Pandemics are terrible. All crisis is unpleasant. I don’t know of a single person who wants to see a crisis come to them.
And at the same time crisis reveals several things.
Crisis gives us a window into realities that could otherwise be covered up. You don’t have to look to hard to see a multitude of articles ranking how different government officials – both national and state level – are doing in the midst of crisis. These officials’ leadership is what is being focused on.
Crisis also reveals brokenness and broken systems. Crisis doesn’t allow us to ignore problems that already exist, but become bigger when the crisis hits. A short list of broken systems that have become exasperated in this time of crisis include – homelessness, health care, working poor, wages, resistant beliefs, etc. We have to take the rose colored glasses off and deal with these challenges. Not everything was great.
Crisis reveals many things about ourselves too. We have to deal with and cope with crisis. Some people shut down, while others step up. We may learn how introverted or extroverted we really are. We may learn some realities about our work or the organization we work for and with in a time of crisis too. What do they value? What is essential? what kind of adjustments are they willing to make?
Crisis also reveals things about cultures and societies as well – often unpleasant realties. This pandemic is essentially getting in our face and yelling at us so we can’t ignore an unpleasant reality. It’s showing us that in spite of the American creed that thinks we are special or exceptional, we just aren’t. We’re no different than any other nation. We are just as contagious as anyone else. We have more cases of COVID-19 than any other country by a factor of two over the next highest country – Italy. Granted, our mortality is lower than many other countries, but we still have the third highest number of deaths. That’s not something I relish writing. But it is a stark reality.
Crisis reveals things about faith and religion too. Faith is made for such a time as this. It is times like this that we learn how out of control we really are, that our salvation has nothing to do with how good we are, or how good of facade we put up in public. It’s not about that. Faith is putting it all in God’s hands, regardless of what happens to us because faith is knowing that we are not the center of all existence – rather, we must conform to reality. This crisis is also revealing the true health of congregations around the world. It is revealing how stuck in the past so many are and how many refuse to adapt. It is also revealing how many are facing reality and making necessary changes. Crisis will kill many congregations – that is a fact. But it will also make many more stranger than they were before. Stronger in a few ways – the ways of faith, the use of technology, the closeness of community, letting go of unhealthy systems, etc.
Crisis reveals many things. Often, unpleasant things. But it also reveals some great things. It reveals character. It reveals grit. It reveals stamina. It reveals determination. And more.