When life changes across the spectrum, when our normal routines are interrupted, we experience a mental disorientation. We are creatures of habit. We become comfortable with the flow of life from job schedules to school calendars, from grocery shopping to eating out, from gym workouts to church services. When even one of those routines gets knocked out of whack, it can be disorienting. But when all of them change, like what we are experiencing now, it can be downright discombobulating.
God describes such wholesale transformation of society in prophecies of coming judgment. Jeremiah, for example, foretells the coming Babylonian judgment against Judah in this way: “Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. And the whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment” (25:10).
John’s Revelation even more graphically envisions the fall of “the great city Babylon”: “The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists and trumpeters shall not be heard in you anymore. And no craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore. And the sound of a millstone shall now be heard in you anymore. And the light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore. And the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore” (18:22-23).
We have all seen pictures of urban ghost towns, deserted highways and shuttered businesses. We have read of wedding and graduation cancellations. The “millstones” have gone quiet in doctor’s offices, schools, theaters, beauty salons, bowling alleys, museums, zoos and stadiums – you name it. Normalcy has been upended and with it many joys of life.
But the major disorientation factor for many of us has been the hiatus of our assemblies. Sunday and Wednesday evenings have long been the linchpins of our weekly schedule. It can be hard to remember what day it is when these focal points are removed. While this is disconcerting, let us remember that it is God and our relationship with Him that is the chief stabilizer of our psyche and sense of well-being.
As we noted in yesterday’s thought, this crisis can be a learning experience. Are we off balance merely because our routine has been interrupted, or do we truly miss God and each other? One good sister who lives elsewhere wrote: “I might be willing to take my chances [of being exposed to the coronavirus] for lots of different reasons but mainly for worship. I miss it!! And my church family!!”
I am not declaring our current crisis to be a punitive action of God. It may be, but we would need a modern-day prophet to tell us that. But God certainly has in the past humbled nations by disrupting their routines, especially when they began to think they were invincible.
We are vulnerable, and we need each other more than we may realize. If you are not yet truly missing your spiritual family, you might want to re-evaluate what those relationships mean to you. “But we brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire” (I Thess. 2:17).