So raise your hand, how many of you thought we would be done with the whole "virus" thing by now? My hand is up HIGH! Many of you are much smarter than I am and knew this would be a long slog, but I really thought we would be passed this by now.
I was expecting a great fall. I figured the heat would kill the virus and we would have more of our lives back. The weather cooling, football starting, kids going back to school (in a school building!), going to the gym, catching a movie. You get it, I am sure you have your list too.
Yet here we are and based on the conversations and mindsets I encounter, no one is happy about it. You might even say people are discouraged. Honestly, I think we are grieving. I talked about grief and the virus last spring, we may still be grieving.
Here is an interesting article from the Harvard Business Review on the virus and grief from March, it eerily applies today.
The 5 Stages of Grief and Loss according to Psychcentral.com are 1) Denial and Isolation 2) Anger 3) Bargaining 4) Depression/Discouragement 5) Acceptance.
So have you felt any of these lately? Umm yeah, me too.
I think I knock out at least 4 stages most days! Something like "This thing isn't real, its the flu", "This is dumb, I am not going to stand in line to go in the grocery store!", "Look the numbers aren't that bad, why can't we ____________", and "I am over this, I feel over whelmed, this is ruining everything".
(In case you're not sure the seat belts are the virus and I am the crazy guy)
I would like to think I am at acceptance but I wouldn't be bothered about things if I had reached that stage.
My goal is not to complain, but rather move ahead and maybe give you some help moving ahead too. Acceptance doesn't mean giving up or giving in for a Jesus follower. Acceptance means finding hope even in hard times. Peter wrote about this.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead….6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 1 Peter 1
I like Peter, I think I would enjoy hanging out with Peter. He got it wrong sometimes, often spoke too soon and too boldly, regularly failed in a public way and yet he had a passion to follow Jesus. His life was miraculously transformed. He reminds us...even if you are waiting for something to end, that should have ended by now. You can still have hope!
Our hope is not in a vaccine, schools opening back up, or getting back to normal. Our hope, our joy, our acceptance stems from the new life we have in Jesus. It is bigger than anything else we face, even if we never get back to normal. Maybe you just need to hear it:
God has you, He sees, He knows, and He has plans to prosper you and give you a future and a hope. God is in control and it will be ok.
I have my moments of frustration, you probably do to, still we have a life built on hope.
Joseph had hope in the bottom of a cistern, David had hope in the darkness of a cave, Daniel had hope in the lion's den, Paul had hope in prison and Peter had hope in his lowest moment of betrayal. You can have hope in the middle of a pandemic. Lean into the hope you have in Jesus. Ask for it, read about it, Claim It.
One other thought strikes me. There are people around you who don't have the same source of hope you do.
You, with your hope, can bring a calm, a peace, a confidence in the future because of what you know and what you have in Jesus. Those people around you need it, they need it from you.
Peter said something about this too.
15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3
You need hope and the people around you need hope. Acceptance is good, but hope is better.
Embrace hope and share with gentleness and respect, the reason for the hope you have.