When any major event happens that seems out of our control, we try to find meaning. Any time there is a catastrophic hurricane, tornado, or tsunami, voices speak up trying to offer a reason why these things happened. It is part of the innate desire within us for meaning beyond what we can see. Many political and religious leaders, news outlets, and voices on social media are offering (often ridiculous) commentary as to why this COVID-19 has suddenly appeared, and who is to blame for its spread. Even among Christians, I’ve read and heard people make completely absurd statements, such as that the virus is the fault of the President, or that it is God’s punishment for homosexuality.
Yesterday afternoon, my six-year-old – who is really getting bored with staying indoors – decided to go outside and play. When I looked outside after a few minutes, he was just lying in the grass staring up at the sky with his feet resting on Pike, my family’s dog, and enjoying the outdoors. It made me realize that our best response right now is not to get upset and yell about what is happening, but to rest in God.
When it comes to Christianity, rest does not mean inaction. It means having hope that inspires reliance. It means that we believe in what God says about caring for us, then acting on the expectation that it is true. It means rest from caring only about ourselves.
Amid all of the unease in the world today, Easter is approaching. While we often think of Easter as being a celebratory time, it is only that way because we have the luxury of looking back on the events that happened, rather than having to experience them as they unfolded. I think we can have hope in the fact that those closest to Jesus felt unnerved, anxious, and even hopeless at times. After Jesus was betrayed and condemned to death by the leaders of his own faith, his followers locked themselves in a house and hid in fear.
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders…” (John 20:19)
We tend to think of these guys as fearless proclaimers of the Gospel, but that’s not who they were at this point. They were scared. Everything they had known for the last three years had just been destroyed, and they weren’t sure what to do next.
It’s easy Christians now to look back on that moment and know that it was only temporary, because Jesus was about to break the power of death and reappear to his followers. I think they were probably feeling hopeless. I think they were just waiting for the sun to set on what they probably considered to be the worst day of their lives. Maybe they were afraid that the Jewish leaders were going to kick down the door and decide to execute the followers of the one who the Roman government had just tortured and crucified. Maybe Peter worried that the others would find out that he had betrayed Jesus before his death; then, he would not only lose his mentor, but also his closest friends.
“…Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’” (John 20:19)
What most of the world celebrates on Easter is the victory that was accomplished through Jesus. After he rose from the grave, he stood among his terrified disciples and said, “Peace be with you!”
With everything that is happening in the world today, maybe we should listen as Jesus is speaking peace into our lives and situations. Rather than worrying about ourselves and what will happen next, we can seek his will and look for ways that we may love and serve others during this time, rather than adding to the chorus of negative voices.
While not everyone is able to serve in the same way as those in health care or relief organizations are able to serve, there are ways that we can serve others even while being confined to our home. It can be as easy as picking up the phone and calling, texting, or FaceTiming a person who is alone right now. Maybe you know of someone who is in need and can send them a grocery order. Maybe you have musical talent or some other talent that can bring positivity and laughter into the lives of others by posting some kind of video.
Maybe we should all start by getting into a place of silent meditation before God and asking him what we can learn as this event is unfolding.
This is the rest that we should be seeking right now.