A New Normal

Guest post by Adam Barker

The coronavirus is in full effect. It has changed the world that I once lived in and the routines that I have been walking in for a few years now. As an American, I have grown accustomed to making plans (at will) to have friends over for dinner. I have always been able to get out of the house with my family to have a stroll in the park, a walk in the mall or a night out for dinner. If I had anything missing from a recipe, I could just hop in my car, take a quick trip to the grocery store and grab any item that I needed with a 99% chance of it actually being on the shelf. However, this is now a thing of the past... at least for now... right?

The thought that pops in my head when trying to keep my spirit up and my patience intact during this stretch is this: “This is temporary... Things will get back to normal." In fact, I believe that the biggest hope for any difficult situation in my life has been the assumption that there is an expiration date. The scriptures talk about “seasons" of life and I tend to see the “corona days” as just another passing trial.

One day, we will all get out and go back to our regular lives. Vacations will resume in future Summers, kids will go back to school in future Falls and the “roller coaster” of tragic events will pull back into the loading station to prepare for a new group of passengers... but what if it doesn’t? What if things change for the worse? What if the world, as we knew it, does not return to its regular rhythm? What if we are forced to completely change our way of life and this time of separation becomes a pattern for our future social encounters? What if the economy never recovers and we are all forced to conduct life in a completely different manner?

In the first of the four Gospels, Matthew tells two stories in which the disciples are out to sea and the weather plays a factor in both. However, God chooses to handle each scenario in two different fashions. In chapter eight, Jesus chooses to control the weather to calm the fears of his disciples.

“And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?’"
Matt. 8:23-27

In chapter 14, Jesus opts out of calming the weather to, instead, call Peter out of the boat and into the elements. Matthew tells it this way:

“When evening came, he (Jesus) was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’

And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’"

These two memories from Matthew remind me that God will either stop the storm when we cry out to Him or He will ask that we focus on Him while we are in it. The Gospel is not just a message to help us get through seasons of tribulation like a frog jumping from lily pad to lily pad. No, the Gospel removes the sting of death and enhances the beauty of life, even in its messiness.

God’s desire is for a relationship with us through all scenarios that we face no matter their level of tribulation or degree of ease. God’s criticism in both chapters is in regard to the faith of the disciples. It’s like he was looking at the disciples and saying, “Why are you worrying? Don’t you know, by now, that I have power over all of this?” Jesus already knew that He was going to “prepare a place” for them (John 14:3). He knew that any dangerous wave they were to ever encounter could never change the ending of the story that he had pre-ordained before the creation of the world.

Yes, I personally believe that things will eventually get back to “normal”. We will go back to playing in parks, having friends over for dinner and possibly eat samples at Costco once again. But if none of that happens, that is OK with me. With Charles Spurgeon, I am learning to "kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages."

I have a Savior that loves me, and He controls my future. According to Him, this is not my home and I need only to remember that fact when I start my next activity for the day. Yet, if I forget, and start looking at the “raging waters”, He is always there in the midst of the storm and He will reach out... pull me up... and remind me who is in control. His love for me is unchanging in all scenarios. He walks with me in all trials, and dances with me in all blessings. In the end, that's the only normal we can count on and it's the only normal we need.

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