Nearly 10 years ago, a famous pastor from Minnesota was diagnosed with cancer. On the eve of his surgery, John Piper wrote an essay called, “Don’t Waste Your Cancer.” It has helped thousands of people walk through cancer with a determination to glorify God with and through and in their trial. You can read that here. I’m shamelessly coopting the title to encourage you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, not to waste our pandemic. I want to focus my heart and mind on glorifying God through this, and I want to encourage others to do the same. So with that, here are some thoughts about not wasting our pandemic.
You will waste your pandemic if you fail to set your hope in our sovereign God. This, of all things, ought to humble the world and help us see how fragile we are, and how little control over things we actually have. A tiny, nearly invisible agent has shut down the most powerful countries on earth – nearly shut down all of the world! That’s humbling, and it ought to focus our hope in God.
Our ultimate hope can never be in preventative measures or in science or in medicine, as important as all these things are. We have to trust in God. He is God over all, big and small. From the mightiest nations to the tiniest microbes – he is Lord.
You will waste your pandemic if you spend all your time worrying about the future or complaining about the present. By all means, do what you can to secure your business, or find other employment, or whatever you can do today to keep food on the table. But doing things is different than worrying. You have no idea what tomorrow will bring (James 4:14), so leave tomorrow’s concerns to tomorrow and focus your efforts on today. Meditate on Philippians 4:4-7 (memorize it) and preach the truths of those verses to your soul until they stick there.
And complaining is about as helpful as worrying. Which is to say, it is not at all helpful. In fact, there is little in this world that is more faith-killing than a complaining or grumbling heart. So don’t give in to that. Start a journal and write down, every day, all the things for which you are thankful. Share the things for which you are thankful with those around you. Post evidence of thankfulness on your social media. Let the world know that we are thankful to the Lord, for he is good and his steadfast love endures forever. Read 1 Corinthians 10:10 to sober up from the stupor of complaint, and then drink deeply from passages like Psalm 136:1-26.
You will waste your pandemic if you spend all your time browsing or ranting on social media. Social media can be a wonderful thing during an event like this – an unprecedented means of communication while we are sheltered in place. Many thousands of Christians will be watching live-streamed sermons and services this Sunday from the safety of their own homes. We can easily check in on one another. We should be thankful for social media (and related technology). I’m thankful.
Yet, these things can also be a great means of discouragement. Christians would do well to stop Facebook shouting at their neighbors for either over or under-reacting (according to their superior, better-informed judgment). Please remember that the bridges you burn during this pandemic will likely stay burned after this is over. And people need love right now, especially from the children of God. So use this time to show love to your neighbors. And maybe turn the phone off and go read a book.
You will waste your pandemic if you focus only on your own needs. The world is reeling from this. Fear is everywhere. Use this time to show the love of Jesus to those around you. Call an elderly person and tell them you are praying for them and ask them what they need. Gather a list of needs and people and pray for them, every day. Seek for ways to serve others.
And do good things for your soul. If you have extra time off from work, spend that time with your family. Start up some online prayer groups (Zoom is an excellent tool for that). Read good books, go for a [socially-distanced] walk. Play a board game. Get on the floor and build a castle with your six-year old.
These are hard times. Let’s not waste them! Soli Deo gloria.