I talked to a friend today who is a pastor in Illinois. He asked me a good question. “What have we learned so far?” I’ve always believed that every circumstance can be a classroom if you let it. I suppose that’s a bit of an occupational hazard. When you’re a teacher, everything looks like a classroom.
I didn’t really know how to answer him though. Sure, there are some anecdotal things that we’ve learned over these past days and weeks. There are definitely some practical/technical things that we’ve had to pick up. The problem is that lessons are best learned in hindsight. Upon reflection, we have enough distance and perspective to see a bigger picture. This is the root of nostalgia. We look backward with fondness because we have gained the perspective needed to understand a greater significance. In the moment, however, that perspective is lost on us. It’s hard to know what you’re learning from a moment as long as you are still in the moment.
So what are we learning from the coronavirus pandemic? I don’t think we know yet. At least, I don’t think we know with any clarity yet.
I’m gonna be honest. Right now I feel like I’m flailing. I go through wild swings throughout the day. I’m embarrassed to admit that a lot of my mood is a direct consequence of what is posted on sites like Facebook. One person posts an uplifting story about people coping with the crisis, and my spirits are lifted. Another person posts that we have to choose between a military presence on every street or bodies lining every street, and, well, that’s a downer. Can anyone identify?
Here’s the point though, I’m not sure I’m in the mental or emotional space right now to talk about grand lessons. That’s what Job’s friends understood, at least at first. Sometimes you just have to sit in it. You just have to survive before you can thrive. You’ve got to resist the temptation to cover everything with a fragile platitude.
I believe that God is teaching us something – collectively and individually. Rest assured that you are being taught right at this very moment, and someday (soon, hopefully) you will enjoy some clarity. But I think that maybe what we most need now is just to be still and know that He is God.
Sorry for the rambling nature of this post. I’ll be more coherent soon. Promise.