A 'Teachable' Moment

A phrase that has appeared on the linguistic scene is “a teachable moment.” I like that phrase, for it describes the essence of being a Christian – teacher. A teachable moment is a situation in life that illustrates some principle or ideal that we want to recognize and reinforce, perhaps to our children, to our fellow Christians, to our neighbors – or maybe to ourselves.

One such teachable moment occurred on Paul’s voyage to Rome as a state prisoner (Acts 27). After the crew ignored Paul's advice not to sail so late in the season, the ship was savaged by a two-week Mediterranean storm. The sailors and passengers had even foregone eating in their despair that the raging seas would eventually overwhelm them.

But Paul, bolstered by an angelic vision, stands before the people as a shining beacon of hope, and he takes advantage of the ultimate teachable moment.

He first speaks: “Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me” (27:25). While we don’t get direct revelations from God today, there is still a need for us to uphold the words of God in times of trial and crisis. We always have hope, security and blessings from God, and we need to relate that to others who are panicky and insecure.

Then Paul acts: “And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat” (27:35). Often our example will carry more weight than our words, and we must make sure our acts match our words.

The present coronavirus pandemic is a teachable moment. We have the opportunity to show the world that we are different, we think differently, we operate on a higher set of principles than the world’s flawed, inadequate humanistic ideals.

Let us show to our neighbors generosity in the face of hoarding and selfishness. Let us show calmness in the atmosphere of panic. Let us model stability in a time when many are disoriented by change. And let us show trust and confidence in God when so many are fearful and uncertain.