The governor of my state recently announced that public schools would be out for the rest of the year. While the specific game plan for how things will proceed virtually has yet to be determined, there were a lot of stunned people trying to make sense of this announcement.
For some kids, this might have been a dream come true. For many, they are struggling. They love their teachers. They love their friends. They love their schools. Some of them are graduating and just had cut short a season of “lasts” and monumental moments that they’ll never have the chance to relive again. It’s devastating.
It’s hard as a parent to comfort your child when you don’t really have any precedent to fall back on. While I lived through the months after 9/11 living right outside New York City, it was different. There was a face to our enemy. There was a tangible target of our wrath, anger, sadness, fear, and other emotions.
But this enemy is different. It’s microscopic. We can’t see it but through a microscope. But that doesn’t stop us from still trying to find a more tangible target. We get mad at those people who are venturing out when they are told to stay in. We get mad at those who don’t seem to be taking directions as seriously as we are. We get angry that obeying the “rules” hasn’t brought us any closer to a resolution, to a more positive and final outcome.
Instead, we wait. We hope. We trust. We listen. We pray. Somehow or another, we’ve got to come out on the other side, right?
When I was younger, there was a game that we played called “I have never.” I feel like we are all living through a real life rendition of that game, experiencing moments that have never been experienced before. We’ve not been here before and we would love nothing more than to never come back here again. We’d like to take that COVID-19 virus and dispose of it properly, if there is a proper way to dispose of it.
The world has been turned upside down. We are all scratching our heads. For a country that’s used to getting everything they want, we’re in unfamiliar territory here.
I find myself giving out words of hope, peace, and comfort as much for myself as I do for the people who are hearing them. I’m trying to convince myself as much as I’m trying to convince everyone else. Like the father of the demon possessed boy in Mark 9, I believe, but help my unbelief. That dichotomous statement means so much more to me the older I get.
Thinking back to the many times that I had hard stuff to go through, it always felt like it was the biggest thing in the world. In my 20s, it seemed like it was break-ups. In my 30s, it was life transitions and losing my parents. In my 40s, it’s the fact that I’m getting older. But there’s no way around it, only through it. No way to bypass it. No way to skip ahead. No time-traveling DeLorean will help get us to the other side. We’ve just got to go through it.
So we press on. We can claim resiliency all we want until it’s finally put to the test and we’ve actually got to show that we’ve got all the mettle that we claim we do. Life’s not a sprint, right? Sometimes it feels like we’re on a marathon that’s about 126 miles long though.
And I think about all those who have gone before, those whose stories we can read in the pages of the Bible, who had to just go through it. Abraham and Sarah had no children even though God promised that their descendants would be more numerous than the stars. They just had to go through it.
God asked Abraham to give up the very son that was promised to him. The son he had waited and prayed for. The son who was to be the key to God’s promise. Yes, God would eventually provide a way out, but he still just had to go through it.
Joseph was sold as a slave by his brothers. He was brought to a foreign land where he knew no one. He was put in prison for crimes he didn’t commit. God would eventually provide a way out, but he still just had to go through it.
Jesus came to earth and fulfilled the mission that the Father had for him. The night he was betrayed, he prayed and asked the Father to take away from him the task that was before him. But the only way to go was through it, there was no other way for you and for me but for him to go through it.
When we come to the other side, we will be stronger. When we come to the other side, we’ll realize that there was no way around it, just through it.
Until then, we’ll keep pushing through it. We don’t know when we’re finally through until we come out the other side. It will feel like forever, but we will get through it. In the meantime, remember we’ve got each other. Show grace. Give love. Speak peace.