Millennial writer Patrick Manning writes:
This moment is unlike anything that most of us have ever experienced. The tally of sick and deceased mounts higher every day. We turn on the news or look out our windows to see empty streets and darkened buildings. We are cut off from one another, passing our days in varying degrees of isolation. Worries about our health, finances, and the future we had planned dominate our thoughts. Saints like Ignatius of Loyola enjoin us to “find God in all things,” yet, in moments of crisis like the present, we may find ourselves wondering, “Where is God in all this?” It may feel to some that God is simply absent….
There is no quick fix for a global health crisis, nor for someone who has lost the sense of God’s presence. What follows are rather invitations to be transformed in the awareness and way of being we bring to the present moment. Nothing less will suffice.
#1: Be on the lookout for the unexpected ways God might be working in the crisis.
So much of our fear and anxiety arises from reactive thinking. We obsess over the terrible things that could happen: What if I or my loved ones get sick? What if my business goes under? What if the store runs out of toilet paper? We fixate on what we have lost — our routines, our plans, freedom of movement, maybe even our jobs. Imagining the good that might come out of our current situation comes less easily to us. Yet, when we look back through the history of God’s dealings with humanity, we see that God has brought good forth from evil time and again….
#2: Welcome this moment as a time of Sabbath rest.
COVID-19 has disrupted the business of the world and forced billions of people worldwide to step outside of their normal routines. For many, this means that life has slowed down considerably. That many of us experience this slowing down as something uncomfortable should tell us something about how inhumane our lifestyles have become, how far we have strayed from God’s vision for our lives….
#3: Refocus on what is most important in life.
While the pandemic has brought additional stress and work hours upon many medical professionals and workers in essential industries, for many others much of life’s daily activity — commuting to work, attending meetings, running errands — has come to an abrupt stop. Again, this may be a gift that we never would have given ourselves. Many of us have been living like Jesus’ friend Martha, who was overwhelmed by all the work to be done. We have been so beholden to our to-do lists that we have lost sight of what is most important….
#4: Spend time with God in prayer.
The doors of retail stores are locked, tables at restaurants sit empty, the lights of Broadway’s theaters have gone down–all because of the COVID crisis. Our world has grown quieter, and, like inactivity, that quiet can be unsettling for those of us who are accustomed to constant noise. Although we may initially perceive it as a threat, this quiet is an invitation….
#5: Connect more deeply with the people in your life.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of our current situation is the isolation many of us are enduring. The crowds that normally surround us in the office, on the train, and in coffee shops have now dispersed. We are unable to visit with friends and family. Yet there may be an opportunity even in this. If it is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder, then perhaps this time of separation will engender in us a greater appreciation for the people in our lives. And we need not wait passively for this period of separation to take its effect. We are blessed to live in an age of unprecedented connectivity wherein we have the technological capacity to see and speak with people thousands of miles away.