There’s a strange sense of community in reaching out while everyone is staying home. Because this pandemic is of great concern to the whole world, there is an unusual international obligation, giving us opportunities to love our neighbors without actually spending time together. Instead of being excluded from others’ activities, we’re sharing the burden of disappointment and making memories while living through an historical event.
There is anxiety and deprivation, to be sure, but there is joy and peace in sharing as well. Our viral enemy is faceless, and our human enemies are fighting the same battle we are. This is another chapter in the Story of depravity, common grace, hope of redemption, and our need of a Healer.
This month the boys and I have been singing “O God, Beyond All Praising” (borrowing the tune from “The Planets”) and I love these lines:
Then hear, O gracious Saviour,Michael Perry
accept the love we bring,
that we who know your favour may serve you as our king;
and whether our tomorrows
be filled with good or ill,
we’ll triumph through our sorrows
and rise to bless you still:
to marvel at your beauty
and glory in your ways,
and make a joyful duty
our sacrifice of praise.
I have been wondering what stories will be like in the New Heavens and the New Earth. Sans crisis, villains, or need for heroic rescue, what fresh narratives will flow through our Happily Ever After? Isn’t the marriage relationship, knowing the groom in a daily and intimate way, far superior to waiting for the wedding day?
When Solomon dedicated the temple, he prayed that when God afflicted the people of the land in various ways, including plagues,
“whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows his own burden and his own grief, and spreads out his hands to this temple: 30 then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men), 31 that they may fear You, to walk in Your ways as long as they live in the land which You gave to our fathers.”2 Corinthians 6:28-31
Here is an invitation, a promise of grace that is still being fulfilled, a hope to remember as we anticipate celebrating the Resurrection from home in just a few weeks. Immanuel, God with us in quarantine. May our joyful duty be a sacrifice of praise.