With numbing regularity we have witnessed the complete and utter validation of the truth that adversity and problems do not create character. They reveal it. Like any personal crisis, the world-wide pandemic, now infamously known as COVID-19, is chock-full of life lessons dovetailed by the rich and cleansing Season of Lent that hopefully will never be forgotten, especially in our lifetime going forward. Let us take a look at a few.
Clearly, the timing of all this is certainly providential and substantiated by the Scriptures which we allow into our daily diet of news and catastrophic updates. “Thus says the LORD: Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt.” (Hosea 14:1) When we stop and think about it for a while, Lent has been consumed with remembering the most important things in life and realizing how at times our guilt and fear can be so paralyzing. That is why we sacrificed (gave up) mundane things which we really do not need so that we can focus on the things in this world that we truly need. This is supported by the underlying meaning from the eighty-sixth Psalm: “Teach me, Lord, your way that I may walk in your truth, single-hearted and revering your name. I will praise you with all my heart, glorify your name forever, Lord my God.”
Remembering the most important things in life is perhaps at the top tier of must-do items on the proverbial “bucket list.” All of what we have experienced and lived must form the fabric of the wisdom and the philosophy of life as we move into the future, which is all in the mind of God who cares and loves us with an everlasting and even reckless, overwhelming love. During this awesome Season of Lent accompanied with the constant drumming of COVID-19 news ad nauseum, we are called and pulled toward memory and freedom. Guilt and anxiety and worry hurt the soul at first but if it motivates us to change and reform our lives according to Christ, then we will, in fact, remember how it is that we can find our way to Heaven by following the Lord God with every fiber of our being. In turn, we are compelled to pass that on to those we love, especially our children. May we remember the name of the one who has saved us!
Unfortunately, the pandemic of fear which, according to many, is worse than the viral infection itself, has produced victims and victimizers in this amazing viral Lenten season. Everywhere from price-gougers, to hoarders and thieves, over-zealous pontificators who railed against everyone who spent time outside and did not measure up to their own standards of quarantine, to those who are ready to cry conspiracy on every corner, we certainly have been served the entire gambit at play. This has been compounded in daily wear and tear on the soul with the worries about losing one’s job, retirement, elderly relatives and friends fueled by the daily, if not hourly, dose of bad news at the laptop or on the phone. How are we to address all of this and still stay sane?
A man once wrote to his teenage son: “God is the reason why even in pain, I smile, in confusion I understand, in betrayal I trust and in fear I continue to fight.” These are not just words if they are put into practice and lived as best as possible. Long after this particular Lenten Season and after the current health crisis is over, we must remember that our children, students, and friends will not follow our advice—they will indeed follow and remember our example. “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:34)
It’s times like these, facing great uncertainties, that it’s clear that we don’t realize our own strength until we come face-to-face with our greatest weakness. You see, courage isn’t having the strength and stamina to keep going, but rather it’s more like going forward even when we think we’ve got nothing left. This is exactly what Jesus taught us, among many other things, such as the truth that there is nothing so terrible or panic-driven that we cannot make some good out of it. Every problem has within it the seeds of opportunity to practice virtuous living. It should also be clear by now that the self-serving, egocentric lifestyle is truly the enemy. Pride tends to create vicious souls and dangerous behavior: “For pride is spiritual cancer as it eats up the very possibility of love and common sense.” (C. S. Lewis) With so many of us homebound for a time, perhaps we could all agree that mindfulness and stillness is the key that unlocks the truth that we can speed up by slowing down. Now has been the time to learn how to pray intensely, focus, and find that deep personal happiness that no one can remove, to see life clearly, free from the frenetic and melodramatic life scripts shoved down our throats by so many who seemingly love to upset the most number of people as possible.
Easter is a glorious time to remember the one who defeated death and darkness forever and has forever freed us from being a victim of panic and fear. By the time this piece is published and hopefully read by you, our faithful readers, we will be in the throes of the Easter Season and hopefully entering a whole new way of believing, acting and living our lives. We can begin by making conscious and firm resolutions to forgive everyone who may have disjointed us during this time, from leaders who either did too much or too little, too quickly or too late, to the people who locked up the toilet paper or turned social distancing into social rudeness. This is the time to renew our time-honored aspirations for a happy life and to make commitments to overcome the forces within and outside of us that keep us from achieving our dreams. Let this historic Lenten Season bring us to an entirely wonderful Easter existence and move forward with renewed hope and energy to be ready for anything.
Keep your faith close and your fear, well, at least six feet away!Share your thoughts (3 thoughts)