(April 2020 post)
Pandemic perspectives. Quarantine quandaries. First-world focus. Coronavirus chaos. My first-world problems seem far removed from current real-world issues of risks, illness, and death in the face of COVID-19.
With our grocery-shopping limited to once every two weeks, why do the chips, trail mix, and snacks disappear within days of our trip into town?! (We no longer have teenagers in the house to blame.) Despite our agreement to limit shopping, my husband often thinks of food that he wants to buy. Right now. I revert to lessons I taught my kids on needs versus wants.
As I learn to live with my shaggy hair with exposed gray patches, my husband desperately threatens to take the dog clippers to his hair. Neither one of us suffers. No dog clipper wounds or food fights ensue. Our needs for food, water, and shelter are met with abundance. We continue to shelter-in-place under Minnesota’s 5+ weeks of COVID-19 mandates. God teaches me contentment and helps refocus my priorities.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13
A first-world problem has little significance in comparison to life and death outcomes regularly faced by people in different situations. COVID-19 is not limited to impoverished, non-industrialized nations; this pandemic breaks all worldly barriers. Even in our first-world setting, the novel coronavirus continues its unpredictable rampage across the United States. As Minnesota cases trend upward, the pandemic slowly marches on toward our remote Minnesota county. Our lives under coronavirus quarantine seem like first-world luxury compared to others who directly confront COVID-19 illness and death. We hesitantly admit that we currently live as outsiders to COVID-19’s catastrophic effects, but we gratefully acknowledge God’s protection and provision during this coronavirus chaos.
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15
What about the stress of first responders, who suspect COVID-19 in every household, on every call? How do the medical and ancillary staff on COVID-19 units face the virus at every turn, every patient, and in every decision? What is it like to battle coronavirus as a patient, seeking medical care, leaving loved ones behind, and being alone during emergency treatment or death?
And what about secondary losses not related to illness? The economic fallout of job loss, interrupted income streams, business failure, and inability to pay bills remains to be tallied. The future implications and outcomes of this pandemic seem overwhelming. May God give me perspective and a prayerful heart for others regarding this coronavirus chaos that I do not understand.
We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
So my complaints about lockdown, being stuck in the northern woods of Minnesota, and eating too much seem shallow and inane. May God use this time to draw me—and all of His children—to Him. As wise Sue from my Bible study said, this time of quarantine helps us to recognize what we miss most. She encouraged us to prayerfully confess any idolatry and ask God to show us the basis of our identity.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
Lord, please use this time to purify me from my biased, first-world perspective. Please purge anything that keeps me from growing in you. Prepare all of us for what lies ahead, and help us to entrust our future to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.