No sense beating around the bush. Let's pretend we're kids once again and it’s very OK for us to pester our father with the familiar question: "Are we there yet?" Of course, I’m not thinking of our father, but rather our Father who is in heaven.
I.e., God—are we close to calling this pandemic off (we, of course, meaning You)? Haven't we pretty much learned what we need to learn by now? You know—the lesson about how quickly life can irrevocably change—we got it. Or the lesson about how important patience is for our spiritual growth—got it again (sort of). So, dear Lord—since it's now been five weeks and we’ve learned our lessons—we promise—is it OK for us to ask: Are we there yet?
In The Atlantic science writer, Ed Yong describes the reality we face: "This physical-distancing strategy is working, but at such an economic cost that it can't be sustained indefinitely. When restrictions relax, as they are set to do on April 30, the coronavirus will likely surge back, as it is now doing in Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other Asian states that had briefly restrained it. As I wrote last month, the only viable endgame is to play whack-a-mole with the coronavirus, suppressing it until a vaccine can be produced. With luck, that will take 18 to 24 months. During that time, new outbreaks will probably arise. Much about that period is unclear, but the dozens of experts whom I have interviewed agree that life as most people knew it cannot fully return. ‘I think people haven’t understood that this isn't about the next couple of weeks," said Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota. “This is about the next two years.'" (www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/04/pandemic-summer-coronavirus-reopening-back-normal/609940/).
Did you catch that? "Life as most people knew it cannot fully return." He means “ever."
Yong goes on: "The pandemic is not a hurricane or a wildfire. It is not comparable to Pearl Harbor or 9/11. Such disasters are confined in time and space. The SARS-CoV-2 virus will linger through the year and across the world. 'Everyone wants to know when this will end,’ said Devi Sridhar, a public-health expert at the University of Edinburgh. 'That's not the right question. The right question is: How do we continue?'" (ibid).
"How do we continue?"
That seemed to be on the mind of Jesus that Tuesday just before His Friday execution. I came across it a few days ago here in my lock-down study at home—one intriguing line: "'By your patience possess your souls'" (Luke 21:19 NKJV). The Greek word for "patience" is from hupomeno ("to remain under" or "to endure"), which of course is what patience is all about, remaining pinned down by circumstances utterly out of your control. You remember from our Livestream Agape Feast a couple of Sabbaths ago the same word described the four walls of dread that pressed in tighter and tighter on Jesus on Calvary. "He endured [hupomeno] the cross." Literally pinned down—not so much unable, but very much unwilling to extricate Himself, which defines the magnitude of what His love endured to save the likes of you and me.
And I complain about my circumstances after a few weeks of being pinned down in my comfortable space by this lock-down?
Interestingly this same hupomeno appears in another one-liner, this one in the Apocalypse, describing God's endgame friends before Jesus returns: "Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12). Pinned down-and-under kind of patience—the very patience I don't have but I want very much to possess. "By your patience possess your souls." Jesus did. His friends will. And by God’s grace, I seek to learn His lesson here in my lock-down.
"Are we there yet?" Turns out we are much closer than we ever realized before—which makes this a very good time to be learning our lesson.