With any misfortune and hardship there always are lessons to be learned.
Not the least of which is how to survive, if possible, to live another day.
Here are some of the lessons I am learning:
1. The importance of being in community, especially a community of faith; having people with which to share joys and concerns, fears and frustrations, hopes and dreams, doubts and faith, and a mission to others. There is great joy in community that comes from this sharing, and when it denied life becomes a little more joyless.
2. The importance of being alone. For some, especially introverts, being alone comes natural and is something to relish. But for other people, especially extroverts, who need to be around people, who they relish, being alone has to be learned and is sometimes forced upon them.
Some people don’t like to be alone because they are afraid of being without the security of other other people, and because they are afraid they might not like themselves. Instead of losing ourselves in others, being alone allows us to find ourselves and come to like, and even love ourselves.
3. Spending time with people that matter. Studies have shown that in our modern world husbands and wives and parents and children actually spend little time together. Parents are at work, children are at school, and activities for both take up a great amount of time, leaving little for each other.
So called “ quality time” becomes time actually spent with each other. Vacations and times away with each other become cherished times that strengthen relationships. Living together in almost forced isolation, for an extended period of time, can become a blessing.
4. The importance of finding the joy. Joy becomes hard to find in the midst of a hardship and misfortune like a pandemic. This is especially true when news reports seem to be more ominous by the day and we never know how, when and if we will be infected and whether or not we will survive and be secure.
Joy becomes even harder to find when some of our usual joys are taken away, like being with family members and friends, going to church, going to the movies and restaurants, going to the gym and watching sports.
But even when all these things are taken away, there is still joy to be found! Especially in simple things like reading a good book, calling and/or FaceTiming a friend, cooking or creating something, taking a walk or a bike ride or simply looking and listening to the sounds of nature like birds singing, snow falling or the wind whispering.
5. The importance of laughter. When thing seem bleak it becomes hard to laugh. Our hearts are heavy and no longer sing. But there is always the absurdity and ridiculousness of it all.
And, there are plenty of things to laugh at, especially our own paranoia and drama. More and more these days, I find myself tuning in comedy channels when I am driving or watching movie comedies.
In theology school when my fellow students and I would get weighed down by our studies, we often would retreat to a local watering hole where we would watch old episodes of the Three Stooges. Laughter as they say, “really is good medicine”.
6. The importance of touch. I don’t think we ever realize how important touch is until it is denied. Medical and psychological studies have shown when touch is denied to infants they can shrivel up and when touch is denied to the elderly, they can feel unloved and hopeless.
Being denied the touch of others during this pandemic, even in the form of a simple handshake, hug or kiss, should make us all relish the opportunity of safely touching those we love the most.
7. The importance of spending time with God in scripture and in prayer. Many people today are strangers to their Bibles. If they own one at all, it is never opened, read and sits on the bookshelf collecting dust.
The only time it is read and heard, even for the faithful, is in church. But it’s books contain great stories, poems, letters, teachings and wisdom of individuals and communities facing hardships just like our own and overcoming them. The Psalms in the Old Testament and the Gospels in the New Testament are only two of the more prominent places to find solace and guidance.
Unfortunately, we often forget about God except in times of crisis and misfortune. But these times drive us to God in prayer and it’s there we can empty our minds and pour out what is in our hearts and souls; things like our indictments, our doubts, our fears and our frustrations.
It’s there we learn to place our trust in God, realizing it is not we, but God who has control of our lives.
The Psalmist said it best when he wrote this in Psalm 13: “How long , O Lord, will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear my pain in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God, lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death…But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. Therefore I will sing to the Lord, because he had dealt bountifully with me!”
What lessons are you learning in the Coronavirus pandemic?