Our story begins Wednesday night, March 11.
Most of us had probably HEARD something about the Coronavirus, or COVID-19; but it was far off and remote. It was something that OTHER people, on the OTHER side of the world were dealing with. It had no practical impact on us.
And then, all of a sudden, the NBA announced the suspension of their season. Then, President Trump gave a speech. Then, Sheriff Woody (I mean, Tom Hanks) posted on Twitter. And just like that, the dam broke loose – and chaos flooded our lives. From that point forward, everything changed: the balance in our IRAs, our plans for the weekend, our children’s school schedules, and even the TV guide (at perhaps my lowest point so far in the age of “social distancing”, I found myself watching “Storage Wars” – in Spanish).
All joking aside, the past week has left us disoriented. Many of us haven’t been jarred like this since September 11, 2001. Even today, we’re still trying to get our bearings, unsure of what our “new normal” should be – and not entirely convinced we’ll ever return to the “old normal”. The common and mundane experiences of last week – like picking up toilet paper at the grocery store – have suddenly become exhilarating, dangerous adventures. Some of us are working more. Some of us are working less. Some of us are working from home. Some of us aren’t working at all.
So, whether you’re watching the news around the clock, on the edge of panic; or whether you’re avoiding the news altogether, and skeptical of just how serious our situation really is; you can’t deny that life has changed drastically.
Naturally, I felt the change most pointedly on Sunday morning. At a time when I’d normally be at PVCC, making sure my microphone is charged and introducing myself to guests before the service, I was sitting in our living room in my robe. Instead of a tiny piece of unleavened bread and a small cup of grape juice, Olivia and I each had a slice of whole-wheat bread and a glass of apple juice. And instead of getting ready to preach the sermon I prepared earlier in the week, we were reading from the Book of Common Prayer.
One of the assigned Psalms for Sunday, March 15 was Psalm 75. Psalm 75 is primarily about God’s justice. VS. 2 says God “will judge with equity”. VS. 7 emphasizes that God will “execute judgment”. VS. 10 says God will “cut off” the horns of the wicked, and “lift up” the horns of the righteous.
Now, you may be asking: what does that have to do with the Coronavirus? Well, to be honest, not much. However, VS. 3 from Psalm 75 stuck out to me:
“When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars.”
Over the last week, it certainly feels like our world has begun to totter. It feels like all the usual pillars that hold up our normal, everyday lives – the money we’ve saved up, the sports we watch on TV, the trips to drop off and pick up kids from school, and even the church events we attend – have all collapsed, in the blink of an eye. The regular, boring lives we usually complain about (along with everything else) have been cancelled or postponed – and now, we can’t wait for everything to just go back to the way it was.
It’s no wonder that we feel disoriented. It’s understandable to feel scared. None of us knows what the future holds.
Of course, this was true long before the Coronavirus had its coming out party in our national and local consciousness. We’ve never been in as much control of our lives as we think we are. But sadly, it often takes a painful, frightening, humbling event like this to remind us of this truth, and put us back in our place.
However, I still found Psalm 75:3 incredibly comforting on Sunday morning. Even though everything feels so different now than it did a few days ago, I believe that God is still on His throne. I believe that He is still good. I believe that none of what has shocked us to our cores has caught Him by surprise. I believe that God not only created our world out of nothing; He sustains our world even in our ups and downs, joys and sorrows, health and sickness. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, rose from the dead, ascended to the Father’s right hand, and one day will return. It may seem like everything around us has changed overnight; but these things remain the same.
So, regardless of what these next few days, weeks, or months hold, I’m confident that God keeps steady the earth’s pillars. Even while our world totters, and we feel unsteady, he is stable. May we remember that today; and may we continue to remember it moving forward – come what may.