By Tony Thompson
The events of the last few days have been shocking to us all. I had been in touch with friends in Spain and Italy, talking about the impact on their daily lives and then suddenly we are experiencing the same. I think it is healthy for us all to reflect on how we feel about it. It would be great to hear your reflections. Here are some of my early ones.
The most immediate is a wakeup call to the flimsiness of our plans. I am used to being able to plan what will happen, now it seems I can’t from one day to the next. I expect to go to the shop and buy what I want, now I can only buy what is left on the shelves. I expect to book a home delivery for a couple of days out, now I am lucky to get a slot in 3 weeks. I am used to planning services and preaches months ahead, now I don’t even know when we will be able to meet again. I am used to going wherever I want and meet with whoever I want. Now I am told to self-isolate.
Things work. Things are predictable. It has been easy (and reasonable) to say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money’ (James 4:13).
That has now all changed with chaos in the financial markets, the closure of public events, and the total impossibility of making any plans for travel. All we do know is that life is likely to be much more disrupted and restricted over the coming weeks. We can make plans for this, but we know any plans we make will be subject to rapid change.
James’ warning, ‘What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes’ (James 4:14), has often rung hollow in a world where we are able to plan with confidence. Now it rings clear. That is a good thing. If the current challenges teaches us to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’ (James 4:15), we will actually be in a healthier place.
I realise the world we have created tends to make us very arrogant. We feel we are in control because of the general predictability of our systems and services. But really, we are not. Corona virus is humbling us. It is teaching us not to ‘boast in your arrogant schemes’ (James 4:16). For that we should be thankful – and seize the opportunity it affords us to proclaim the good news of an unshakeable heavenly Father ‘who does not change like shifting shadows’ (James 1:17).
Like James, this is a time to proclaim: ‘Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded’ (James 4:8). Our plans are flimsy: His are immovable.
You may also want to watch a short video, just 5 minutes long, where some one shares her previous experience of coping with uncertainty and unwelcome shocks.