God has a purpose in everything that He does. Being the good Father that He is, He designs our lives with all kinds of opportunities to grow and change and become more like Him. We may never know all that He intends to teach us and show us about Himself through the Coronavirus. But a few things are already becoming obvious.
First, He is teaching us to rely on Him. Anytime that God strips us of the illusion that we are in control, He helps us to remember that He is the only reliable thing there is. He shows us how much better it is to lay our children, our livelihoods, our homes, our very lives at His feet than it is to cling to everything in our powerless way. Are we learning to rely on Him more every day that the quarantine continues? Or are we still worrying ourselves into numbness or struggling to control the anger we feel when we realize things are out of our control?
God is also teaching us patience. The Bible tells us that God’s timing is perfect, but it can be hard to remember that when we’re missing graduations, vacations, sports seasons, and milestones of all kinds. We’re used to a busy and full life, yet here we are, literally sitting at home, nowhere to go, nothing much to do. Inside many of us lives a frenzy of disappointment and a struggle to stay still, to listen to the Lord, to wait for His plans to reveal themselves. Do we really believe that God is accomplishing what He wants at just the right time? Or do we resent His timing?
Next, He is teaching us to love one another. This virus presents some unique ways to love our neighbors, and none of them is easy. We have to stay home to protect one another. We have to work extra hard to reach out to each other, and we have to be mindful of those who are truly isolated. We have to think about neighbors who are struggling financially and those who are having to make difficult decisions as they run their businesses. We have to have grace for each other’s feelings and fears and emotional reactions. This means that regardless of how we feel about the economy, the president, the conspiracies theories, foreign countries, or the way that an acquaintance is or isn’t reacting to everything, God is calling us to show love. And that love should be obvious in the ways that we speak, in the ways that we handle social media, in the ways that we are careful not to judge one another too harshly in a very complicated time. Are we showing love to those around us? Or are we being too reactionary, too hasty, too harsh?
God is also teaching us to remember all that He has done. When we find ourselves in uncertain situations, we can grow fearful, wondering what the next step will be. We are all anxious to hear from practically anyone how things are going to look in the US in another month. We want answers. We want someone, anyone, to look into their crystal ball and tell us how this thing is going to change our lives, change our country, change the way we live. We live in fear of what the future holds unless we remember this: when the road ahead is foggy, we can look back and think on all of the ways that God has come through in the past. We can look at all of His great and mighty works, both in His word and in our own lives and the lives of people we know, and we can remember that God is good. He keeps His promises. He is powerful and wonderful and He has proven that to us over and over again. Are we quick to remember what God has done? Or are we determined to keep squinting down a path that is hopelessly obscured, trying to see some hint of what will happen in the future?
As we continue to live through this historic moment, I pray that we will see it as more than a strange time, but as a rich opportunity filled with spiritual growth. God is trying to teach us some things. Are we learning?