If there were an enemy wanting to eliminate our collective good, perhaps he would send a virus that would create worldwide panic, shut down our schools and places of worship, stop us from gathering and joining together. He would expect us to turn on one another and hoard, become overly dependent on technology to soothe us, and to put our needs and our wants first. 

This darkness would seep in and plant a seed of question in our minds. 

Just how good is a God who allows all of this? 

And what of us if we have dared to entertain this thought? If in the days and weeks ahead we get worn down and wonder how a God who loves us so dearly gives permission to a pandemic? 

If we take the question all the way down the rabbit trail, we retrace our human steps back to the Garden of Eden and find a real enemy and his twisted, whispering ways. With eyes to see, we can find his glaring miscalculations. We serve a compassionate God who accounted for our lapses in faith by way of the cross. And as image bearers, we are compassionate people, our hearts knit together by and to our ever-compassionate Creator. 

We may question God in our humanness, but this does not surprise or anger a God who promises to be with us. Immanuel. He put on the skin of humanity to save humankind. He does not fear our worst, nor is His Kingdom in danger.  

He provided guides for this season of sheltering in place. Generations before us have subtly prepared us for these times by the way they lived. Our grandparents lived plain and simple lives and, for now, we know how to live plainly and simply. What grace to know what this looks like! We may not have understood we were learning when they reused and stretched and fixed, we may have thought their thriftiness was a bit exaggerated, but they were our steadfast examples for such a time as this. 

What if we shifted our question from God to ask one of ourselves—

How will we remember this time? 

The very thing that came to harm us, will leave an awful wake in its path and we all will be changed in some way. Still, we have hope for what that can look like. What if we named the good outcomes now and pulled hope close. 

What if this sheltering in place—

strengthened our homes and families, marked our knees by prayer, and restored time to linger and gather at our tables?

forced us to get creative with ways to check on one another, become less wasteful, and we finally catch the elusive minimalism we chased after?

gave us permission and time to move toward one another and deepen our roots?

opened our eyes to everyday heroes in our midst?

In this war, the brave souls on our front lines are people in positions of service—their weapons are food, compassion, selflessness, medical care and expertise. Creatives are keeping us engaged, continuing to put their art and beauty into a fragile world. What are the rest of us choosing to honor by their service and hard work? 

These moments strung together will grow roots if we allow, the deepest roots of faith in a God that is good. 

There is an enemy wanting to eliminate our collective good and it seems like his tentacles reach far and wide, at this time. And instead of turning toward the destruction, instead of rising in defiant response, what if we held our sanitized hands open to what God could bring out of this chaos? If He has allowed it, we can be confident, where a front door is closed, there is a kitchen table open for hope. Generations are with us. Immanuel.