The Coronavirus situation has had a tremendous impact on the lives of many people around the world. Sickness, death, economic impact, scammers trying to take advantage of it, social impacts, hoarding resulting in shortages, etc.
Life throws challenges at us all the time. One of the measures of our character is how we choose to respond to these challenges.
I would like to urge you to consider how the Coronavirus could be offering you the opportunity of a lifetime.
Lessons to Learn (Or Be Reminded Of)
When we face unexpected, difficult challenges we are frequently faced with reexamining our life perspectives and how we have been choosing to live. Here are some of the lessons we can learn, or be reminded of, coming from the Coronavirus situation.
A Reminder of Our Mortality
Many people choose to ignore or put off thinking about the fact that we are going to die. Everyone is going to die. This is an opportunity to be reminded of that fact and reflect on important questions and concepts.
Why do we fear death? Is it because we have been ignoring our Creator and we’re actually afraid to face Him when we die? If so, now is the time to address that fear.
Everyone acknowledges that “you can’t take it with you”. Material possessions (stuff) are fleeting. Even before we die, things can happen (like the Coronavirus) which can have a major impact on our stuff (jobs, retirement plans, possessions, etc.).
Stuff doesn’t bring happiness or peace. We like to think that it brings us security, but it really doesn’t.
So why do so many people spend so much of their time accumulating and being “owned by” their stuff when they ultimately know it’s going to go away?
Now is a good time to rethink our attitudes about stuff and to ask ourselves “Who or what are we putting our trust in?”
Modern medicine/science is truly wonderful and amazing. But it’s not infallible. Who or what are we really trusting in?
In times like these, football players, movie actors, celebrities, media pundits, politicians and rich people are not the people we should look to for help.
The people we should really be looking up to and being inspired by (besides Jesus) are people who are giving their lives in the service of others with no regard to monetary gain. We have the opportunity to reconsider our aspirations, who we look up to and what we would really like to be like.
Much of our lives are spent in social interactions. Now that we are being forced into cutting back drastically on this, we have the opportunity to evaluate what our social interactions have been like and perhaps how we should modify them.
First of all, we should learn that spending time alone is OK. We need time to reflect, meditate and pray. We cannot do this when we’re with other people all the time. Nor, can we do this while constantly checking our phones, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Take advantage of the “Off” button on our smart phones.
Additionally, when we are with people are we engaging solely in trivial conversation (weather, sports, movies, etc.)? Are we thinking about injecting meaningful topics into our conversations?
Take advantage of this opportunity to think about this.
Things We Thought Were Important
The true test of whether something is truly important or not is when you are forced to do without it.
Can we do without food? Nope – it’s important. (But we can consider which foods are most important, and what we can do without.)
Can we do without watching sports on TV? Yep. If that’s so, why are we spending so much time doing it?
This is a great time to evaluate what’s important and what’s not.
Have we truly identified our priorities? What priority is at the top of the list? Do our priorities need to be re-prioritized?
Things Not To Do
Quarantines, layoffs, social distancing, etc. have put many people into a position of having newfound time on their hands. Many suggestions have been made about what to do with this additional time. Whose suggestions are you going to listen to?
Here are some suggestions that I would “suggest” you dismiss.
Watch More Streaming
Is watching more movies and TV really worth our time? Are we really so uncreative and undiscerning that we can’t come up with anything better to do than that?
Spend Time Reading the “Classics”
I’m not against reading “the classics”. I’ve done some of that. However, in the end I realized that reading “classics” may make me more “educated” but they don’t make my any wiser.
Spend More Time on Social Media
Social media can play a useful role. But most people have been lulled into believing that being engaged in social media has resulted in more relationships and friendships. More and more studies are confirming that the more time people spend on social media the lonelier they are. There is actually a correlation between increased social media use and suicide rates.
In this time of quarantining, social media can be useful. But don’t for one minute believe that it is going to fill your need for relationships.
Keeping Up To Date
We are told that we need to be “informed”, kept up to date on what is going on in the world. Of course, the way that we should do that is to leave the TV on all the time and constantly check our tweets, and blogs and podcasts so we can get the latest information.
Yes, we need to be informed. But are we really more informed if we check the news 20 times a day instead of just once a day? Constantly inviting this bombardment of “information” into our brains is counter-productive. It only succeeds in making us news junkies. Guess who would like for that to happen? Do you really think the media is only interested in trying to “keep you informed”? Wake up. The more you watch, the more you are exposed to advertisements. The more people are exposed to advertisements the more they are influenced. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that you are immune to being influenced. That’s exactly what they want you to think.
And the attempts to influence you are not just limited to advertisements. The media (all sides) have made it their mission to influence you with their worldviews and try to get you to adopt theirs.
Yes, keep up to date on what’s going on. But don’t be obsessed by it. And be sure you’re doing what it takes to keep your worldview aligned with Jesus’.
Things To Do
If you are taking this opportunity that the Coronavirus has presented and trying to learn the lessons described above, here are some ideas to consider about how to spend some of your time.
Seek First God’s Kingdom and His Righteousness
Jesus spent more time talking about the Kingdom of God than any other topic. However, most professing followers of Jesus don’t know anything about the Kingdom of God. Maybe now is the time to focus on what Jesus told us to make our first priority.
In Jesus’ teachings he inseparably associated righteousness with the Kingdom of God. Most professing followers of Jesus think righteousness means “sinlessness”. That’s not what Jesus actually taught about righteousness. This is good time to look into that.
Work on The “Spiritual Disciplines”
The term “spiritual disciplines” is frequently used to describe activities that followers of Jesus should be actively engaged in. These include:
prayer and meditation
studying the Word of God (Jesus)
Practicing Kingdom Principles
Learn more about what it means how to practice Kingdom principles:
loving God with every fiber of your being
loving your neighbor as yourself
Reach Out to Isolated Neighbors
We must be willing to ignore social distancing guidelines and take risks in the name of Jesus to reach out to and serve any neighbors who are isolated and truly in need of help.
Point People to The Father
In this time of high fear and anxiety, people need to hear about the Father’s love. We should seek opportunities to tell people about this.
Explore God’s Handiwork
We can take more time to explore God’s handiwork and appreciate just how amazing He is.
I personally am fascinated by the work being done by the Intelligent Design movement to uncover how God’s design and handiwork are increasingly convincing people to understand that there is intelligence and design behind all that we see in the universe; that these wonders that we see are in no way possible by mere accidents and blind processes.
Ok, we all know what we need to do in this area. This is a great time to do something about it. This includes outdoor exercise/activities as well as indoors.
Gardening, even pots in the house or on the balcony, is a great way to spend time. It’s good work (as opposed to other mindless or harmful activities). It increases our appreciation of the Creator’s wisdom and provision. It can also be a way to share with others.
Learn New Skills (or Improve Current Ones)
Even while confined at home, there are plenty of online resources that can help you learn new skills such as:
Cooking from scratch
You can also work on improving skills you already have like music, writing (articles, journaling), etc.
Teaching The Young
Quarantining has resulted in more parents needing to get involved in teaching their children/grandchildren. This is great opportunity for both the adults and children. Parents can start to take back what has been their responsibility all along: teaching their own children in the way they think they should be taught. Parents and children both can find a new level of interaction and relationship that they never had before. And who knows, the parents might even learn something new.
Again, there are plenty of online resources for this.
This is a great time to reconsider what you own. Perhaps you will discover that some of the things that you own actually end up owning you (use, maintenance costs and time, etc.).
Reconsider Financial Perspectives
Take time to reconsider your financial perspectives and practices (investments, savings, what you spend your money on, giving, etc.).
Challenge Your Spiritual Beliefs
Spend some time considering other perspectives and honestly thinking them thru. You will either learn something new and grow or you will end up strengthening your current beliefs. A no-lose proposition.
Will We Forget the Lessons?
The Coronavirus situation is going to end. The question to ask and answer now is whether we will learn and retain these lessons. If we fall back into our old habits and return to life as it used to be, then we have truly missed a great opportunity. Replace old bad habits with better habits and continue them after the Coronavirus scare has passed.
Spread Hope, Not Fear
As believers we are promised the love, peace, joy and hope that only God can offer. Yes, the Coronavirus is a concern. But, it’s not the end of the world (that’s actually something quite different).
If you are fearful, you need to address that first. For those who have learned to live in hope, let’s share that hope with others.