By Joe McKeever, Crosswalk.com
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/beerphotographer
I have no advice on the current coronavirus crisis. But I do have a lot of thoughts, from the perspective of a lifelong shepherd who has seen my share of calamity. Allow me to share them with you, in hopes of keeping our spirits strong and faithful.
1. Stay Positive and Joyful
I appreciate how we can laugh at ourselves and with one another while the world rapidly changes around us…or, ‘when everything not nailed down is comin’ loose’...as someone said about something, one time.
In 1940, when Hitler’s bombs were pummeling London, the British were suffering, frightened, and dealing with death. But they remembered to laugh. A bombed-out restaurant or store would post a sign out front the next day saying, “Yes, we’re open.” Google “World War Two jokes” and you’ll find a thousand.
My favorite funny of this week during the COVID-19 crisis was the guy who said, “I have washed my hands so much I’ve now uncovered the answers to the 9th-grade math quiz.”
A friend sent a photo of the bathroom tissue holder, showing each segment of paper labeled Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and so on. The caption read: “Problem Solved.” The background to this, of course, is the way people are stocking up on toilet paper. It’s an odd happening but no one has ever been able to figure out why people do what they do.
A friend in South Louisiana said they’re cleaning the groceries out of bottled water. “Even if we all get the virus,” he said, “our water should be fine. So, what’s with everyone buying water?” I suspect it’s because that’s what they do when a hurricane is threatening.
My friend Shawn Parker is the newly installed executive of Mississippi Baptists. On Wednesday I asked whether he had called his predecessor, Jim Futral, and asked if he wanted this job back. He laughed and said, “I called him and said, ‘Where is your file on Coronavirus?’ He said, ‘Check under the heading ‘Katrina.'” Ha...true enough.
A cartoon showed a family hunkered down in their storm cellar, with mounds of toilet tissue around them. The dad says, “Did anyone think to buy food?”
Thank God for the ability to laugh. Let’s keep doing that.
Photo Credit: ©Crosscards.com
2. Keep Praying
We should all be praying often generally, but sometimes we need to pray specifically and pointedly.
A friend texted early this morning to say her adult daughter who lives in another state has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. I’ve replied that we share their pain on that and are praying, and she should keep us informed. The daughter is young and should do well, from all we’re told. But we now have a name to specifically pray for.
Sometimes when I’m praying, I find myself asking the Lord to “bless America during this time,” but immediately I recall that it’s not just our country but the entire world. Truly a global phenomenon, the very definition of a pandemic.
More than anything I pray, “Father, thy will be done.” And the prayer of Jehoshaphat, “Lord, we do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon Thee” (2 Chronicles 20:12). And “bless our leadership, Father. Show them the way.”
3. Maintain Normalcy as Possible
We need as much normalcy as it’s possible to get while the world is changing right before our eyes.
This morning’s paper says the city of Jackson, Mississippi has shut down all bars and is limiting restaurants to take-out only. Our spirits need some things to stay normal, as much as possible. That’s why I was glad to find bananas at Walmart early yesterday morning. We keep bananas here at the house. As well as strawberries, blueberries, and large seedless grapes. Oh, and Blue Bell Natural Vanilla Bean ice cream. I’ll be fine as long as we have these. Smile, please.
As a retired preacher, my schedule stays fairly full going from one church to another, doing senior meetings in churches, the occasional revival or deacons training. I get invited to sketch at children’s functions, for charitable ministries, public libraries, and the like.
But these days, I’m getting several cancellations each day. And there will be more. For how long, only the Lord knows. And He ain’t telling.
So, our spirits need as much normalcy as we can generate. To watch the same television programs that always brought us comfort, however small. To talk with the same friends, although by phone now. To walk in the same parks.
It’s a matter of keeping our sanity. And our balance.
Photo Credit: ©Crosscards.com
4. Welcome Change
The single thing we may be assured of is that the longer this goes on, the more life will change forever. Life as we know it, may never return to what it was before.
In New Orleans and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, they refer to BK and AK, before and after Hurricane Katrina. Life changed forever when that storm blew through at the end of August 2005. We may say the same about the coronavirus hurricane: Nothing will ever be the same.
During this time when churches are not meeting, new forms of ministry and outreach will be created or uncovered or rediscovered. Some will be an improvement over how we did things before. No one knows what they will be.
I wonder if our churches will find themselves after this is over with huge empty buildings we no longer need because we have found better ways to meet and worship and serve. I’m wondering is all, not predicting.
Dear Lord, help us to be faithful. This is war, although the enemy is invisible and we’re still in search of the weapon that will mean his undoing. But when this war is over—and that is exactly what it is—may those who come behind us find us still faithful. For Jesus’ sake. By Jesus’ blood. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
On September 1, 2005, a couple of days after Katrina had blown through our part of the world and we began to see that our part of the world had changed forever, I began to write about it on this website. For the next two years, every article posted here dealt with what was happening in New Orleans and the rebuilding of our city. For the COVID-19 reality, I promise not to write exclusively about it–how depressing that would be–but to leave the occasional posting here on what’s going on where we live, and how we are experiencing this new reality. If for no other reason, it’ll be a historical record. My great-grandchildren (or theirs!) will want to know.
Joe McKeever has been a disciple of Jesus Christ more than 65 years, been preaching the gospel more than 55 years, and has been writing and cartooning for Christian publications more than 45 years. He blogs at www.joemckeever.com.