The covid-19 wilderness…

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Luke 1:80 The child (John the Baptist) grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.

John the Baptist was a prophet sent by God to prepare the way for Jesus. We’re told he was “in the wilderness” which has obvious connections to both Israel wandering for 40 years in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land and Jesus who was tested for 40 days in the wilderness before starting his earthly ministry. In each case the wilderness season involved testing, deprivation, but also strengthening in body and spirit for what was to come.

In the last few days news has been breaking that covid-19 hospitalizations are at record levels in my home state of Texas and several other places around the U.S. and the world. This news is being accompanied by further easing of restrictions to economic activity. My older daughter Victoria is being called back to her part-time job since area restaurants and bars will be allowed to function at 75% starting Monday. I’ll admit I’m concerned. But I understand the impulse to get out of isolation.

Being mostly separated from friends and family this long has been hard on many of us. It feels like the wilderness. A relational wilderness. For many of us it’s also been an economic wilderness. Even a spiritual wilderness. Mostly I just want it to end. I want to get back to something closer to normal, though I expect it’s going to be a while yet. Ugh. But at the same time I wonder what we’re being prepared for. I’m reminded of the teaching on Romans 8:28

“28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

Paul’s point is not a denial of hardships, but a reinterpretation of them. Somewhere in the middle of this mess there is a divinely inspired witness that glorifies God, that gives hope to people struggling, that offers light in the midst of a dark world. This morning I’m asking God to reveal my role in this witness and for grace to live it out. Lord, let it be so. Amen.

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