Myth 8: We’ll get back to normal quickly
Ben Stuart is one of the pastors at Passion City Church’s Washington DC campus and he shared a good message today that I would like to pass along. (www.passioncitychurch.com) We are in a marathon, not a sprint. The projected peak of new cases of Covid-19 is currently somewhere about the middle of April. Two weeks away. After that there will continue to be new cases and unless we continue to pressure the virus’ capability to spread after that point, a new and even worse outbreak will flare. I have been asked by many people, “How do we know when it’s over? How do we know when we can go back to church and conventions and sports events safely?” We’ll look to the epidemiologists. When enough people have had the virus and enough herd immunity has developed, or perhaps we create a new and effective vaccine, we can start to reassemble our lives. That will likely take months.
Pastor Ben told the story of a US special forces soldier who was asked in an interview how he coped with being put in highly demanding and stressful situations by others without really knowing the reasons behind having been put there. He responded that he viewed the problem as a bullseye. The center dot is what he could control… his choices and actions he could make in the situation. The peripheral rings are concerning problems but problems that are outside of his control. He said he opted just to focus on the center dot and that’s how he got through the tough spots in which he found himself. The natural follow up question was, “But how do you not get distracted or worry about some very concerning problems that might affect your life or ability to complete your mission?” He said, “I think about them… then I release them.”
We did not ask to live during an epidemic that is devastating families and laying waste to the world economy. We did not ask for our friends and neighbors to suffer by losing their jobs or worse, their loved ones. No person could have prevented the mutation that resulted in the spread of this virus from animals to humans. But we are here. Many generations have faced global crises and have persevered. They did so by learning about their inward strength and applying it to everything they did.
We must prevent the spread of this virus to save lives. We must employ our creativity to save businesses and stabilize our economy. Think about how you can interact with your favorite businesses in new ways that limit physical contact but still keeps money flowing. This problem will not be gone tomorrow or next week or next month. American ingenuity has accomplished astounding feats throughout our short history and can do so again. I am encouraged by the way that we have applied our incredible abilities in science, economics, arts, philosophy, religion and countless other ways to combat the effects of this virus.
I challenge each of you to imagine what your life will be like through the rest of spring and into the summer. Steel yourselves. Plan. Rest. Prepare for harder days. We will not be able to sprint through this tribulation, running wildly with teeth clinched and eyes closed to the devastation around us. Marathon runners set a pace. They have a plan to complete the race. They hydrate along the way. They encourage their fellow runners. They know that only one thing can allow them to finish – endurance.
What does endurance in the world afflicted by Covid-19 look like? First we must think past tomorrow. Plan for your family and plan to help your neighbors. Look for opportunities to serve while avoiding close contact with other people. I promise if we open our eyes we will see others who need help and we may just be in a place to provide that help.
Second, mourn what we’ve lost but celebrate what we’ve gained and still have yet to gain. We have learned more about the resiliency and character of our community in the last two weeks than ever before. Every crisis has embedded within it opportunity. Most of the periods of unsurpassed economic growth and prosperity in America have followed significant national setbacks or struggles. Painful experiences most often serve to reset priorities, bringing about a clarity of focus that often surprises us by what we achieve. I’m looking forward to seeing who we are when we emerge from these dark days.
Finally, endurance is a doggedly persistent refusal to give up. We will not give up fighting the biological blows of this virus. Doctors will treat and researchers will innovate. We will not give up fighting the psychological attacks of the virus. We may feel isolated, disempowered, afraid. But it has never been as easy as it is now to have a connection with another human being outside of physical contact. Reach out. An electronic hug is no substitute for the real thing but it is a readily available salve for a lonely heart. We do not have to fear the virus itself. We have been taught how to avoid it. We are learning more and more daily about how to defeat it. It will not last forever. We will not give up hope. Though we know darker days are coming, we also know that once this trial is over we will be stronger than ever before.
We are here, caught in the midst of a terrible pandemic that no one wants. But we all have our own personal bullseye. We will look at the peripheral rings, the circumstances and worries about what we cannot control, we will think about them, and then we will release them, choosing to focus only on center dot. And then we will do what we can.
Get ready and persevere,