Last week I wrote a post on what crisis reveals.
I left off one really important thing that crisis, such as a pandemic, reveals – our mortality.
We are not superman/woman. We are not indestructible. We aren’t immune to viruses. No matter how strong we may think we are, or perceive others to be, we know inherently that strength has nothing to do with our survival in regards to an infectious disease. Intelligence might help us a bit in altering our behaviors. But even that has limits.
Viruses don’t care about our strength – a virus isn’t intimidated by our strength. It doesn’t care what our intelligence is. It doesn’t care what our political ideology is. It doesn’t care what our nationality is. It doesn’t care what our religious faith is. It doesn’t care if we are stubborn. It doesn’t care what our mindset is.
We are not in control.
We never have been.
We just don’t like to admit that. We like to lie to ourselves and pretend that we are in control of our lives. We like to think that we are independent and don’t really need anyone to survive. But if that were true, then we should hand in everything that was made by someone else – everything. We’d be left with nothing except what we made ourselves. Oh, and all the tools we use to make that item would have to be of our own making. Same for the food. Can’t go to the store to get seeds either – someone else did the work of harvesting the seeds and packaging them.
Even if we could actually be independent of everyone else, would we really want to be? Seems awfully lonely to not need anyone else for anything? Forget about having children and believing we are truly independent – they’d have to learn the hard way to care for themselves right after birth.
We’re not really independent. Being dependent isn’t great either. What we are is interdependent – we need each other to survive. And even then, we aren’t in control of our mortality.
I think this pandemic is teaching us what many generations have known so very well – life is fragile. Mortality is real. Death is real. And Faith is real. It’s not just some nice words that comfort us when we are uncomfortable. Faith isn’t just some intellectual exercise in which we think we know something about God. Rather, faith is a lived reality that shows us how God encounters us, walks with us in the midst of the shadow of the valley of death, that doesn’t abandon us in the midst of crisis. Faith in a pandemic teaches us what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Faith allows us to grasp what resurrected life is about too. It’s not about turning back the clocks to sometime in the past. It’s about being transformed and going forward.
The Old Testament reading for Sunday is from Jeremiah. It’s about the joyous return of those that were exiled. It’s a resurrection story. The people of Israel were resurrected and returned to their land. They didn’t turn back the clocks though and pretend nothing happened and go on their way as it was before. Rather, they were resurrected. They were changed by the exile. And they lived differently.
My hope is that the same is true for us.
Facing death is a life changing experience. It changes your perspective. It changes you. When you truly know your own mortality, you see life differently. You know that life is a gift. You know that each day is a gift. You know that your time here is limited and not to be wasted. Knowing your own mortality brings you closer to God. It allows you to take seriously what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
When we finally return from our own exile, let us embrace our changed reality. Let us learn from mortality. Let us be embraced by faith. Let us live our Kingdom values.