The first week of our stay-at-home protocol was novel, the second week we were getting into a rhythm, but when, in the beginning of the third week, I heard the announcement of a more long-term arrangement it caused me to cry out, “How long, Lord?” like the psalmists of old. It had already seemed like forever since I had enjoyed an outside meal, a movie, or even some relaxed random shopping. It had already seemed like forever since I was able to greet the people I loved and cared about with a handshake or a hug. It already seemed like forever since I was able to have a friendly conversation without the aid of some electronic device or a 6 foot distance between us.
And yet, in reality it has really only been a few weeks. World War I lasted 4 years and World War II lasted 6. The Great Depression lasted 10 years and the 1918 Flu Pandemic ran for 2. The 1980’s Recession lasted 19 months and the Swine Flu Epidemic 16. It is amazing what a little historical perspective does. Maybe I don’t need to hang on every word spoken on the Nightly News desperately searching for some signal that it will be over soon. Maybe instead I can focus on the fact that we got through hard times in the past, times that really looked like the world was ending, and that we will come through this as well.
I confess that I had to look up how long each of these scourges lasted. Yet I can absolutely recall how long Jesus’ ministry lasted on earth – 3 years according to John’s Gospel. In three years Jesus was able to change the world profoundly and permanently for the better. That is an incredibly short time, especially given that there were no publishing houses, mass media, radio, television, social platforms, or the web. Three years of what appears to be a patchwork of “random” encounters with the least, the lost, and the left out. Years that caused even His closest disciples to scratch their heads in bewilderment, compete for the best place in the kingdom, and even betray Him.
And yet… and yet… today over 2,000 years later we are still being positively touched and transformed by His message of love, forgiveness, grace, and gratitude to God. Despite seemingly endless attempts to do so, not a single “non-preferred” experience or world calamity was able to destroy or discount His message. So maybe I am not asking the right question. Perhaps instead of asking, “How long, O Lord?” and fretting about my inconvenience, perhaps I could be asking, “How are You going to defeat this one, O Lord?” with the full confidence that the goodness of God always conquers whatever evil might beset us. “Even though you planned evil against me, God planned good to come out of it. This was to keep many people alive, as he is doing now.” Genesis 50:20. So I think I will go relax with a cup of tea and let God handle the timing. After all it doesn’t really matter how long it takes to get to the good as long as it does!