“We’re doing okay,” said the woman on the phone. “Everyone is well, but we are SO ready to get back to normal.”
Making phone calls on behalf of my church to check in on people during the stay-at-home order, I’m hearing the same thing again and again: We just want this to be over.
I get that. I want it to be over, too.
It’s hard to face uncertainty day after day. It’s disconcerting to be thrown out of our routines. It’s difficult to stay away from people we love.
We may be disgruntled about the choices we don’t have right now, but we can decide one thing.
We can decide how we will wait.
Which one of these responses best describes your waiting style?
You find yourself turning to Google for answers, over-analyzing, and worry-praying. The many questions in your mind begin with What if… or How am I going to…
You forecast the future based on your perception of the past—a future that looks bleak because Jesus is not in it.
You can use up your waiting time by panicking, but the only thing you’ll accomplish is to increase stress and spread fear.
You believe this current crisis is not that big of a deal and it will be over quickly enough. You assume things will be back to normal soon, and you’re impatient with the wait.
You may not realize that your denial is causing you to respond in a flippant, lazy or cynical manner.
You can use up your wait by drumming your fingers on the table, but that would be a total waste.
3. Persevering Prayer
You see this time as a unique opportunity to reflect, reevaluate and participate with God in what He is doing.
You recognize God wants to establish a new normal in your personal life, your family life and even in our communities and in the Church.
Persevering in prayer is the best investment of your wait time!
Consider what happened to the apostle Peter and the wisdom he passed on to us:
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus tells Peter, James and John,
“Stay awake and pray so that you won’t enter into temptation.” – Matthew 26:41
But they fall asleep three times while Jesus prays alone.
Once Jesus is handed over, Peter slices off a guy’s ear and then lies about knowing Jesus three times. (And that’s…bad.)
Years later, Peter pens these words,
“The end of all things is near; therefore, be alert and sober-minded for prayer.” – 1 Peter 4:7-8
He then warns about the prowling, devouring devil and repeats,
“Be sober-minded, be alert.” – 1 Peter 5:8
Peter learned his lesson.
Watchful prayer keeps us from reacting in our flesh. It helps us resist the devil, particularly when we suffer—and this crisis causes all of us to suffer in varying degrees (1 Peter 5:9).
This is a time to be awake in our spirits–alert, sober, and attentive. Let’s not allow personal suffering to distract us from the bigger picture of what God is doing.
We can make wiser choices than wringing our hands in fearful despair or sighing and rolling our eyes with impatience. We can do better than medicating our way through this with alcohol or binge-watching Netflix or overeating.
Did God really allow such an unprecedented, worldwide interruption just so we can go back to business as usual?
I don’t think so.
Peter said the end of all things is near. That’s all the more true today.
As followers of Jesus, we know our God is on the move. Let’s be full of hopeful anticipation.
Let’s be alert and sober-minded, and let’s pray.