Trusting the Unknown to the Known

Many people seem keen to make predictions about what our post-pandemic world will be like. Will we fully get back to ‘normal’ or are we heading for a ‘new normal’ and should we, therefore, relocate the office to Bermuda?

I’m not going to make any predictions because one of the most important things we should have learnt by now is that we don’t know what the future holds. Remember no one predicted the pandemic! We can’t control the future, but we can control how we respond to what happens to us in life. I want to suggest five lessons that we can take into the future, whatever it holds.

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude

One of the joys of coming out of lockdown was appreciating afresh things that we may have taken for granted before. A meal with friends, a day out at the rugby, or a family holiday. It’s like when you recover from having the flu – for at least a few days you appreciate your health in a way that you didn’t before. The danger is, that like with our health, it is all too easy to start taking these other things for granted.

Develop a rhythm of rest

A recent article in The Guardian spoke of people who wanted to develop a regular ‘lockdown day’ after the pandemic. Many of us might find the idea crazy given most of us were desperate to get out of lockdown! However, they found that, for all its many challenges, lockdown also caused them to slow down and spend time with their own family. Maybe we need to commit to regular times when we slow down rather than simply rushing back into busyness.

Remember the importance of relationships

Someone recently commented that British people should have found social distancing easy – we’ve been doing it for years! It is somewhat ironic that it took a pandemic to bring us together as a society. People started to get to know their neighbours and communities pulled together. Perhaps we have started to learn that we need each other. Deprived of close human connection we may have learnt that it is who we have in life, not what we have, that makes life worth living.

Avoid the myth of ‘safety-ism’

It seems that no longer do people say ‘goodbye’ but the new accepted phrase is ‘stay safe’. Whilst it is totally understandable that we might wish people safety (especially in the middle of a pandemic) there is a danger that we make safety our primary concern in life. Real life is about more than just staying safe; indeed, life can never be 100% safe. The psychologist Jonathan Haidt, observed (even before the pandemic) that an overemphasis on safety is stunting the development of young people and preventing them from learning how to weigh up risks.

Reconsider the foundation of life

The pandemic was something of a wake-up call to a culture that had forgotten about death. We have been reminded daily of the numbers of people dying, yet we can forget that even without Covid-19, over 1,500 still die every day in the United Kingdom. We can’t escape the reality that life is fragile, and it’s not just death that can come out of the blue: jobs can end with redundancy, and the most precious of relationships come to an end through death, divorce or disagreement. All of this should make us consider whether we can find something that can stay constant even when everything else changes.

What about God?

You may be surprised that I haven’t also added something like ‘Think about God’ to that list. After all, I am a Christian writer, writing in a Christian magazine! What is more, surveys show that the pandemic has caused people to think about spiritual realities in a way that we wouldn’t normally do. However, there is a danger that we simply think that we need to tack on some religion to our lives just as we might a hobby. However, God is not simply to be another aspect of our lives but the very foundation of them. It is my conviction that knowing the God revealed to us in the Bible makes the best sense of every aspect of life. With that in mind, let me revisit my suggestions:

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude

We have said that we should cultivate an attitude of gratitude but to whom should that be directed? It seems that we have much to be thankful for, but no one to be thankful to. Knowing God as the source of the good in our lives and thanking him for it actually increases our enjoyment of those things.

Develop a rhythm of rest

I find it amusing that The Guardian has suggested we need a regular lockdown day when the Bible had been on that idea over three thousand years ago. It’s called the Sabbath – a weekly day of rest. God’s rules are not given to us to limit our enjoyment of life but to enhance it. When we break God’s rules they also break us. If God is the author of life, then he knows best how life should be lived and we should listen to what he has to say – not just in regard to rest but also in everything else.

Remember the importance of relationships

We have learned that relationships make life worth living. That should be no surprise. The God who made us in his image is a relational God. Relationships are therefore at the core of who we are. We were made to relate to God, but we were also made to relate to each other. One of the best places to find intergenerational and multicultural community is the church.

Avoid the myth of ‘safety-ism’

If love and relationships are the most important things, then life can never be ‘safe’. To love is to risk getting hurt. This is the story of the Bible, God didn’t stay in the safety of Heaven but came into this broken and dangerous world. His love was expressed not simply at the risk of his life but at the cost of it. Jesus chose love over safety and calls us to follow in his footsteps.

Reconsider the foundation of life

The only foundation that is strong enough to build our lives upon is Jesus himself. The Bible says that he is the same yesterday, today and forever. When we come to put our trust in him and make him the foundation of our lives then nothing can separate us from his love, not even death. Since Jesus not only died but also rose again to life, we can have confidence that death is not the end but merely a gateway to an even more wonderful dimension of life.

Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who faced the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp. Reflecting on the turmoil that she lived through, as she suffered the loss of both her father and sister, along with experiencing unspeakable suffering she was able to conclude: ‘Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.’

M. Ots

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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