The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has changed the world in many ways. But how has it changed you? And how long will those changes last?
I don’t know what the world looks like right now.
Er—what I mean is, I didn’t know. I do now. Or, at least, I will. Although I guess from your perspective—
Look, this is a weird article to be writing, okay? I had to write the words you’re reading a month and a half before they were published in Discern magazine.
Which means, as I’m writing these words, I have absolutely no idea how the world will change (will have changed?) after another month and a half of dealing with the impact of the coronavirus.
Did we get it under control? Is life returning to some semblance of normal? Have our attempts to flatten the curve permanently altered the world economy? Are we still doing social distancing? Is it still a 6-foot radius? Are the lockdowns finished or still ongoing?
I wish I knew those answers so I could write something insightful about them—but I don’t, so I can’t. But there is one thing I’m sure about, even while writing this a month and a half in the past:
The coronavirus has changed you.
I want to talk about how.
Whether or not it’s still making headlines as you read these words, its global impact has left a mark. What’s your mark look like? How has everything that’s happened changed who you are, what you do, how you think and how you live? What have you learned about yourself in the process?
In this article, we’ll look at five questions we can ask ourselves to help us understand who we are in the wake of the coronavirus.
1. How do I handle change?
All change (even change that we’re excited about) introduces an element of stress into our lives, and stress makes it easier to say and do things we’re not proud of. A global pandemic that forcibly alters our day-to-day lives is absolutely going to expose us to a lot of change—and a lot of stress.
How did you handle it?
When everything turned upside down—when people started panic buying, when businesses started closing, when your job description changed or disappeared entirely, when lockdowns and quarantines started—what did you say? What did you do? How did you treat those around you?
King David (who knew a thing or two about stress and life-altering changes) wrote, “O LORD, You preserve man and beast. How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 36:6-7).
In times of intense change, we can trust in the love and protection of a God who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).Granted, that’s often easier said than done. But in times of intense change, we can trust in the love and protection of a God who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Of course we still may experience fear or frustration in the face of difficult changes—but navigating change gets easier when we focus our attention on the loving, all-powerful God who doesn’t change.
2. How important are my fellow believers?
Before the quarantines and the lockdowns and the social distancing, people interacted with each other a lot more often. We’d see other people in stores, at parks, at events, at restaurants, at get-togethers—and then the coronavirus reduced our social lives to a skeleton crew.
That hit some people harder than others—but even introverts like me started to realize that being away from regular human interactions for extended periods of time can be difficult.
We learned, in other words, that people are important. That it’s easy to take them for granted. That our lives are different without them—and that’s doubly true when it comes to our Church family.
David was also the one who wrote, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). The coronavirus deprived us of weeks and weeks of interaction with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and that is hard. The Bible warns against “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25), and the coronavirus has helped us see part of the reason why.
We need each other. Spending time with our fellow believers is an integral part of our Christianity.
When that fellowship isn’t so hard to come by anymore, will you still value it the same?
For how long?
3. How am I inclined to serve?
When the quarantines and lockdowns started, something fascinating happened: people had to pivot. “The way we’ve always done things” stopped being an option for virtually everyone, all at once, and as everyone scrambled to adapt to a new normal, some interesting by-products started showing up. Things like generosity. And kindness.
Musicians started putting on virtual concerts—for free. Homeowners started putting stuffed animals in their windows so neighborhood kids could have drive-by safaris. Companies started offering some of their virtual products for free.
YouTubers and Twitch streamers started hosting board game evenings so their audiences could play along. People started using Zoom to connect and communicate in new and creative ways. Stores set aside times for their elderly and at-risk customers to safely buy what they needed.
In other words, a lot of people (and businesses) started serving in ways they’d never even considered before all this started.
And you? Did you find a new way to serve others? Something you’ve never done before? Did you find something you’re good at—something you enjoy doing?
And if you didn’t, can you find something now?
The coronavirus forced us all to pivot, to reevaluate what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. As Christians, that sort of self-evaluation shouldn’t be limited to global pandemics—but what a perfect opportunity for us all to discover new ways to “do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
4. How resilient is my patience?
Of course, not everything that came out of the quarantine was positive. With a brand-new normal (and fewer opportunities to get out of the house), most of us were a little more on edge than usual—and discovered that we had a little less patience than we thought.
How did the quarantines test your patience—and what did those tests reveal to you about yourself?
James wrote, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).
These past few months have probably given you lots of insight into the limits of your patience. James tells us that these tests actually help us to produce patience—if we navigate them correctly. They give us the opportunity to center ourselves, to not react in anger or frustration, and to make better decisions in the heat of the moment.
With patience—as with most goals in Christianity—it’s less about being perfect and more about improving. If you can take your quarantine experiences and use them to bolster your patience just a little more, then you’re coming out ahead.
5. How aware are you of prophecy?
As news coverage of the coronavirus increased, a lot of people started wondering if it had anything to do with Bible prophecy. Was it one of the seven last plagues? Was it the beginning of the end?
For most of us, prophecy is interesting but a bit confusing. Timelines, symbols, dual fulfillments—it can all get a little fuzzy. But prophecy is important. A big chunk of the Bible contains prophecies about the past, present and future—and ignoring those prophecies means ignoring valuable information about the plan of God.
Some of those prophecies tell us that things are going to get much, much worse than the coronavirus pandemic before Jesus Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God on earth—at which point things are going to get much, much better. An important part of prophecy is knowing what we need to be doing, which means now is the time to get familiar with what the Bible says is coming.
One day, it will be too late to read up on the Bible’s prophecies—because they’ll be unfolding all around us.
As Jesus said, “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-36; see our article “Watch and Pray”).
Who will you become?
If the worst of the coronavirus crisis seems already behind us by the time you’re reading these words, you might be feeling like you missed out on some growth opportunities—but that’s not entirely true. Even now, there’s time to look in the rearview mirror and grow. Think back to your experiences during the quarantine and ask yourself those same five questions.
But even if the lockdowns and quarantines are still going on, the most important step is to ask ourselves what we wish our answers were. The coronavirus gave us a glimpse into the mirror, and now it’s up to each of us to do something with what we saw.
We’ve seen who we are—the time ahead of us is an opportunity to become who we ought to be.
That’s what we’re all about at Life, Hope & Truth. Our Learning Center is filled with material designed to help you change and grow into the Christian God called you to be.
The time to start is now.