In the last weeks we hit the wall. All of our lives had been thrown upside down. My kids were schooling from home, my wife was off of work, trips had been canceled, church looked completely different than it had a few weeks ago, and my birthday celebration wouldn’t be what I had hoped for, without friends around and restaurants open. I began to think about everything that had changed over the last few weeks since the Covid-19 virus had been declared a pandemic, all sorts of things had closed or been canceled, and social distancing became our new reality for the time being. How do we maintain some sense of normalcy when everything seems to have been thrown upside down?
It made me think about Israel in exile. Their lives had been thrown upside down as well. But there were still some things that they kept doing even in those times. They kept celebrating festivals, they kept planting gardens, they kept marrying. It made me wonder what things we needed to keep doing in order to maintain some sense of normalcy and some sense of our identity in these difficult times.
Keep bedtimes and wake up times the same. If Friday night was always pizza and movie night, keep doing it. If you always went for a walk with the dog at 5 every afternoon, keep doing that. Maintain some sort of a routine for your family so that things seem a little more normal.
Churches and organizations that help people haven’t stopped their work. It might look different than it did a few weeks back, but they are still planning worship services, feeding the hungry, and housing the homeless. They can use your gifts now more than ever.
Physical activity is important for the health of our bodies and minds. It would be really easy to hunker down on the couch and binge TV shows for the next eight weeks. But that won’t be good for your physical or emotional state. Stay active. Go for walks, plan a garden, pull weeds in your flowerbeds, or paint a bathroom.
Our world needs to see ripples of kindness. This isn’t a time to forget about our neighbors and those in need. Offer to get groceries or supplies for an elderly neighbor. Help a school hand out needed meals to their displaced students. Don’t hoard groceries from other people who may need them. Remember other people and don’t only think about yourself.
Stay connected with people. While we are all social distancing in person, we can still talk to friends on the phone or over video conferencing services. Call that friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Video conference with family members who live in other states. Wave to your neighbors as you all sit on your front porches.
It may seem like this will never end and like life is pointless. But that isn’t the case! God has not given up on any of us. He is still in control and his love is for us now more than ever! Because of our faith in God we can have hope even in the midst of our challenges. God's Spirit is at work within us renewing our hope.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:4-5).
Churches are trying to figure out how to continue faith formation and worship during these times. Find some friends online and study a book of the Bible together. Tune in to your congregation's online worship service or watch some old sermons from a pastor you know and respect. Do a small group bible study or chapel service via video conference. Call people who are less digital to see how they're doing. Stay in touch with your own church community in every way possible.
What other things are important for you to keep doing during this time? Come up with a list as a family and post it on your refrigerator. Help each other maintain some sense of normalcy while so many other things are definitely not normal. Control what you can control and allow God to handle the rest. Remember that the community of believers, the Body of Christ, is in this together and is here to support each one of us as we figure out how to live life for the time being.