These last six months have been wonderfully brutal. I didn’t see all this coming. If you did, good for you. I didn’t.
I’m tired of Coronavirus or COVID-19 or the ‘Rona or whatever you want to call it. I’m not minimizing it. I’m not denying its reality. I’m just saying I’m tired of it. I’m tired of the changing narratives… the “flatten the curve” narrative (which I was entirely on board with) and now the “keep the vulnerable safe” (which I understand, but I don’t quite see the desired end for this playbook).
I’m tired of talking about masks. I remember when SARS initially broke out in Asia. I was in China not long after that, and it was disconcerting to see so many wearing masks. I’m tired of the tension it’s created: the “care for the vulnerable”, “your arrogant if you don’t wear it”, “it’s my personal liberty to choose what I wear”, and always helpful, “my body, my choice” (which seems to play well politically when it’s comfortable and convenient).
I’m tired of the cultural tensions we’re living through. People are sinful. This shouldn’t shock us. Sinful people do something in common… they sin. We sin by hating what God loves, by propagating injustice, by resisting God’s correction, by pridefully thinking we know what the world needs, by trusting political candidates more than we trust God, and a thousand other ways. Why do we keep looking at the VERY SAME CULTURAL CONSTRUCTS that created the problems we’re living through to solve them?
I’m tired of what the past six months have created… a culture of comfort and entertainment. You watch what’s comfortable. You avoid what’s not. Our primary guidance is being drawn from, is it “safe”? This is especially tragic because safety rarely connects to meaning. It’s easy to disconnect from an online church service when it starts to feel unsafe and starts to challenge your opinions and perspectives. It’s easy to withdraw from a relationship when you feel like you’re being challenged or convicted, because it’s much safer to stay comfortable.
I’m tired of being tired. We’ve opened a new location and pivoted our internal systems to provide a new, online platform for ministry. My family sold a home and moved in the last six months. I’m feeling it. I’m tired… the kind of tired a good night of sleep cannot fix.
When you’re tired, there’s a reason. We can focus on what we’ve lost, or we can focus on what’s left. We can focus on what we’ve given, or we can focus on what we’ve gained.
When life pressed pause during the shutdowns, we all gained a new perspective. We saw how busy we were. We saw how much we’d neglected our families. We learned that we didn’t need to do all those things that we’d been doing. It was a brutal lesson in how we’ve managed the invaluable resource of our time. Still, it has given us a beautiful hope for a future that integrates what really matters.
Masks work to stop the spread of a respiratory virus about 60%-80% of the time. There’s no perfect solution to this new viral contagion, but it’s something we can do together. Whatever measures are taken, it’s evident that they only work if we work together. What a time to live in… a time when we are culturally trying to figure out how we can all work together to cope with, treat, and navigate a new threat. It’s a tremendous opportunity for unity and solidarity, no matter your perspective or political affiliation.
While the cultural tensions of this year were spurred on by violence and resulted in violence, it’s essential to understand that there is an amounting potential for peace. As a Christian, I’ve lived most of my adult life, knowing that many of my closest held beliefs weren’t widely affirmed culturally. Many people who are outside of Orthodox Christian thought look to it’s abuses as a means of discrediting our Christian message and beliefs. Ravi Zacharias has correctly argued that “you cannot judge the validity of an idea by looking to the abuse of that idea.” This is the perfect time to listen to people who are different than you, lean into their stories, and validate their experiences.
While our new way of life has created an opportunity for us to “culturally curate” an existence that is much freer of discomfort and guided by safety, this will create a vacuum of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. The Gospel of Jesus shines in such cultural moments. It is at the heart of the message of Jesus that we find our most authentic selves and our greatest purpose. The Church has a new moment, with new tools, and a brand new audience. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s going to be a tremendous opportunity for the hope of Jesus to shine through His bride.
When we’re tired, it’s a new opportunity to trust Jesus. Jesus once said, “Come to see all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). You can’t sleep off the kind of tired many of us are feeling these days, but Jesus can give you rest. You can rest in His grace, His mercy, and His love for you.
You might be tired like me. If you are, it’s a perfect moment to turn to Jesus.