Much of our lives function on rhythm and habits. You probably get up around the same time each day, brush your teeth, go to a favorite coffee spot, whatever your routine is. Suddenly, COVID-19 has thrown your rhythm out of whack from grocery shopping to work to childcare to recreation. We went from in-person to Zoom, Facebook Live and YouTube. It’s all a bit disconcerting and we probably all feel a bit weird.
Len denBraber wrote this to describe his experience during this time: “I’ve discovered my experience isn’t unique. Why have we struggled with lethargy, depression (mild and clinical) and anxiety during the pandemic? There are a myriad of reasons, but I think the disruption of our daily and weekly rhythms have really messed us up. The subtle signals of getting ready for work, swinging by Starbucks for an over-priced coffee, interacting with people at church, going to small group, and worshipping with others on Sunday have been eliminated. We have lost our intuition about how our lives ought to flow (can you remember what day it is today?) and without that, we feel untethered.”
People talk about returning to normal, but the reality is that the world has changed. We are not going back. We are entering a new normal. How do we encounter this new normal? How do we find stability in the craziness?
First let’s talk about stability. We must remember that God has not changed at all during COVID-19. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (Heb 13:8). Life may have changed, we need to find a new normal, but we don’t need to find a new God. There is hope and stability found in Jesus. Let’s read in Hebrews 6:16-19.
“Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. 17 God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. 18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.” (Heb 6:16-19)
The common way we look at hope is like this: I hope I win the lottery. We would like it to happen, but it is statistical hope based on probability and chance. It may or may not happen. However, Hope in Christ doesn’t change like the weather or the lottery numbers, it is guaranteed. This is why the Apostle Paul can say in 2 Cor 4:18 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” What is seen is what is in front of us, challenges, troubles, COVID. Yet, these things are limited to this world and they are temporary. What is unseen is the glory of eternity and of a relationship with Jesus, yet these things are known now, can be experienced now and will be seen fully in the future.
Hope allows people not to give up when it would certainly feel easier to do so. In the midst of craziness hope in Jesus is a sure foundation and a steady anchor. You may feel like a little boat tossed around on a big ocean. The moment we think we know what is going on the wind blows us somewhere different. In the midst of this we toss out an anchor called hope. Hope roots us in place. The waves keep coming, the wind keeps blowing, but we are no longer tossed about. We are rooted in place in Jesus!
So we have hope and can find stability, but we still need to find new rhythms. So many things have been canceled and changed this year and these things are tough to deal with. First, we must grieve what we have lost. This grief is real. We need to process the changes and our losses and face what has happened. Then we need to find a new rhythm.
The tendency is probably to try and jump right back into whatever we were doing before COVID but many of those things may have been on our schedules just out of force of habit. My wife Michelle and I have been reflecting a lot over what we missed and didn’t miss during the COVID shutdown. COVID has helped us identify our priorities. For us these things are family, being outdoors, close friends and travel. It’s worth writing your own list and being intentional in your calendar items rather than just letting your calendar book up as things open up.
Now here’s something radical: what if instead of filling our schedules with events and activities, and going back to whatever we did before, we instead set aside time for God and for rest? As you read the Bible starting in creation, God worked for 6 days and then rested for 1. This seventh day is the Sabbath, a day to rest and enjoy God’s creation. (Read more on Sabbath here) Our world tends to be so obsessively busy, maybe we all just need to take a break! Maybe instead of moving to the rhythm and busyness of our culture or what we think we are expected to do, we can move to God’s rhythm.
None of this is easy, but we can continue to trust in Jesus. In him is our hope and stability. We can find a new normal, a new rhythm and eventually, the new normal can be even better than the old normal. Hang in there and keep hoping! Jesus is your anchor, if you will cast your line to him.
 Kruse, C. G. (1987). 2 Corinthians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 8, p. 111). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.