I cling tightly to my two cell phones, apprehensively jumping at every ring, uncertain as to whether it will bring me good or bad news. New York in this early spring season is a hotbed for COVID-19 deaths, and every day I am saddened by a list of the ones we’ve lost while I encourage myself with the good news about those who have left the hospitals and recovered from this deadly disease that is wreaking havoc and disrupting our way of life.
The past two weeks have been painful as we lose family, friends and colleagues, and as the death toll rises, it leaves a billow of fear, anxiety and dread blanketing our city. The “City that Never Sleeps” is in a deep slumber and the “Great White Way” is as black as midnight. How quickly things have changed. In a matter of three months, our world has succumbed to the ill effect of this coronavirus pandemic that forces all to surrender. In its blatant disregard for status, race or geography, this deadly plague trekked its way seventy-five hundred miles from Wuhan China in the furthermost parts of Asia to this fair and happy land of New York City.
Now we are thrust into a new kind of normal in an abnormal kind of way. Staying away from friends and family is the new way to express love, and hugs, kisses and handshakes is a new form of “crazy.” Your average New Yorker now walks around n latex gloves and “designer” face masks; supermarkets, discount stores and your big box retailers are all out of toilet paper for some unexplained reasons, and New Yorkers are being fined if they fail to stay at least six feet from each other.
O how things have changed right before our very eyes. All that we took for granted has been stripped away from us – privileges we enjoyed are now cause for great distress and that which constituted our daily routine now requires deliberate avoidance.
The human family in New York, America and the world now scrambles to make sense of a modern day plague that has already claimed one hundred thousand lives, almost 10 percent of whom are from New York. The most important lesson we must learn is that we humans – however gifted, innovative and powerful – are subjected to the power of the universe and the unmatched power of God. The earth is more powerful than the combined force of our human genius, and the earth is the Lord’s!
God is NOT the orchestrator of calamities and destruction, nor is He the creator of plagues and diseases. These forces operate within the realm of a sinful and polluted world, and it is our obsession with the created over the Creator that thrusts our world in chaos. Humans are dispensable, the earth is not. We may know how to revive Broadway, restore tourism and recharge the economy, but no human on earth has the power to bring a single life back!
As I increase my appreciation for this coronavirus-enforced downtime, I am transforming my home into a sanctuary: my study is now a spiritual war room, my bathroom is a prayer closet, and my living room is my threshing floor. I am purposefully seeing God’s hands at work in all of this, and while He did not create this debilitating virus, I am growing to comprehend the better in the bitter, the beauty in the ashes and the calm beyond the storm.
This is a good time to deepen your journey into communion with God; a time to build on your spiritual capital and to connect more deeply to the invincible power of God. He is a stronghold in times of trouble, and in our weakness, He is strong.
So here we are in this vibrant Spring of 2020, yet powerless to live life freely. No dining out, no trips to the movies, nor rush hour traffic, no NBA finals or start of the baseball season, no worship in the sanctuary, no evenings on Broadway, and no toilet paper on the supermarket shelves. God is NOT responsible for taking any of this from us, but He is fully engaged in loving us through it and protecting us from this deadly disease. God’s love is not restrictive, it is protective.
By the fullness of His GRACE, He gives us the GOOD we don’t deserve; by the act of His MERCY, He relieves us of the BAD we do deserve; and by His boundless LOVE, He generously gives us BOTH! This is your God season.