The phrase “a new normal” has been flying around on social media. We are all trying to find a new way to spend each hour of our day while remaining in our homes. In some ways, the Covid-19 government restrictions are providing many of us with a slowed down pace. What has that been like for you? Restful? Lonely? Boring? Creative? Chaotic? More bonding with your family? A new kind of busy?
Of course, some are involved in the frontlines of the battle. Their lives are anything but boring. Our prayers go out to them. Let your new normal include praying for the workers directly confronting the silent enemy. Our prayers also go out to those suffering from this horrid disease.
There is a character in the Bible who experienced both these sides of the battle. Remember Jonah’s crazy story? Thrown off a ship, only to be swallowed up by a large fish (probably a whale) for three days. Can you even imagine it? Dark. All alone. Little hope of survival. Horrible conditions. Separated from anyone who knew and cared about him. Endless passing hours of fighting to survive. I cannot even fathom what I would do in that same situation. Those currently suffering in the hospital with Corona virus are probably experiencing many of these same feelings.
In the second chapter of Jonah, a beautiful thing happened in Jonah’s heart amid his wretched situation. He prayed! But look how he prayed. Read Jonah 2:1-6 if you want to understand some of the pain he was going through. In Jonah 2:7-9, we see an attitude shift in Jonah. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you Lord, and my prayers rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.” He acknowledged that idols are worthless. That our salvation can only come from the Lord. He gave thanks to God. Can you imagine fighting off being strangled by seaweed, struggling to stay away from the stomach acid, and then give thanks to God! Perhaps in those prayers, he personally met God in a way that completely humbled him and filled him with un-explainable peace. When we have a supernatural encounter in the presence of God, all pain and fear flee. We begin to recognize what really matters; a worshipful, obedient relationship to the one true God. Jonah recommitted himself to the vows he had previously made to God. When we go through catastrophic things (Covid-19 fits into this category), we can either become bitter or hopeless, or we can have a positive paradigm shift in our emotions. Jonah became repentant. He knew he had been disobedient and was running away from God’s will. In the belly of a whale, he spent time thinking and praying about ways he had displeased the Lord. He remembered earlier times when he was more passionate to follow God.
Sisters and brothers, use this time to pour out your hearts to God. Then let the Holy Spirit guide you to reflect on your life. What can you be thankful for? What commitments have you previously made to the Lord that you have not followed through on? Repent of anything that is displeasing to the Lord. Let your new normal include a deeper commitment to the Lord of your salvation. Who knows then what God will do? Marvelous things happen when we surrender to the will of God!
Today's Bible Reading: Jonah 1-4