I don’t know much, but I am sure about this: We won’t be going back.
While we are already weeks and weeks into dealing with this COVID-19 pandemic, we have much farther to go than we’ve come so far. The disruptions, the changes, all those people infected across the globe, and the sheer number who have died are all nearly impossible to comprehend.
The path thus far has been difficult and confusing. We wonder when it will all end. If only we could go back to “the way things were.”
Even if we could somehow return, it wouldn’t be the same. We’ve already been changed. Our eyes have been opened to how small the world has become. Our inter-dependence has morphed from a mere concept to a reality measured in test supplies, food delivery and even, yes, rolls of toilet paper.
We’ve been reminded, again, how fragile life is and how quickly it can change. There is no going back from this.
If we can’t go back, and I doubt few want to stay here, then the other option is to move forward. But how? How do we find the energy, courage and determination to move step by step into a future that is now much less known, much less predictable, than it was just a few weeks ago?
For many of us, the answer is “by faith.”
While what we are facing is unique and specific to our time in history, we are not the first people to have to choose to either go forward or not. Early in the Hebrew Bible, the people of God, held in bondage by an oppressive force, were being freed. They were on the way to a promised, new future.
But just weeks into what would eventually take 40 years, they wanted to go back. Traveling into the unknown was too hard, too uncertain, too difficult.
Fortunately, they were encouraged by signs, given daily, that they were not alone or forgotten. Each day God provided tangible evidence that God was still with them, caring for them, giving them life. It was encouragement enough for them to continue moving forward.
God is still giving us signs, each and every day. Signs that give witness that God is with you and me, giving us life. Signs seen in the small acts of kindness by others, in new ways of overcoming COVID-19, or even in the beauty of a sunrise announcing yet another day.
Yes, God is with us, even now. There are signs. Keep moving.
Pete Berntson is the pastor of Church of the Palms United Methodist Church in Okatie.