CMDA's The Point

The Coronavirus Show Us Who We Really Are

April 22, 2020
Photo: Unsplash

by Bryan Stoudt

I hope each of you are doing—and feeling—well despite the challenges we’re experiencing with the Coronavirus.

 

Today, I’m writing with a reflection in a small effort to help us profit from this trying time. There are many lessons we could take away, but here’s one that’s smacking me in the face.

 

The Coronavirus shows us who we really are.

 

Under Pressure

I’m not sure about you, but even though God has preserved my health, I’ve found post-Corona life pretty challenging.

 

Long lines and little food at the grocery store. Amazon delaying my “non-essential” orders. Having my four kids home all day, every day. (Pray for us. 😂) Church and small group going on indefinite hiatus. Not being able to visit and support my mom as she undergoes treatment for cancer. And watching a neighbor’s mom die from the virus.

 

My friends in healthcare tell me they’re experiencing real challenges, too.

  • A geriatrician came down with a cold and couldn’t see his patients for a few weeks.
  • A pediatric resident says she’s “going stir crazy, especially with little kids at home.”
  • A dentist mentions that all her elective procedures have been halted indefinitely, and “facing an entire month of unplanned not working, I’ve realized that I barely know who I am outside of my work. I have so much time on my hands, so I feel obligated to be productive. This has also increased my anxiety.”
  • A medical student shares that “the whole situation makes me think about our vulnerability and frailty as humans in general…I have had to think more seriously about what it means for me to expose myself to disease on a regular basis in the future. I certainly want to lay down my life for others, but this situation brings that possibility even closer home.”
  • Others are weary of nonstop COVID-19 coverage and continual policy changes as the situation keeps unfolding.
  • Another physician shares that “it is the ‘unknown’ of the virus that I struggle with. I never learned about something in my medical training regarding treating a disease without a plan or expectation. I worry for my family’s health, my patients’ health and my friends’ health.”
  • And two physicians in New York City talk about sleeping at the hospital, critical shortages of supplies and the overall chaos of life in America’s biggest hotspot.

 

I’m guessing many of you can identify. The isolation, loss of control, weariness, fear of getting sick and infecting others, and a million other things, are exacting a heavy, long-term cost that can’t be dismissed. As one resident put it, sometimes the virus “makes the world feel cold and dark.” Pretty depressing stuff when we stop to think about it.

 

And yet, we know that God is “…an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NIV 1984), and He is at work here, even now.

 

Let’s take a look at one way we can benefit during this hard season.

 

Pressure Reveals Who We Really Are

As one person put it, “the virus is a reminder that you don’t get to choose a crisis, just what you bring to it.”

 

We might also say that the virus reveals what’s already inside of us. Our true character—good, bad and in-between—bubbles to the surface in the pressure cooker of tough times.

 

(And it must be said that we’ve seen so much “good” in the healthcare community throughout this stressful time, and particularly among believers. You have risen to this challenge with amazing, Christ-like character!)

 

If I’m honest, I’ve been way grouchier, less patient and more demanding as the virus leads to more limits and restrictions. As my circumstances have become harder, God is showing me that I’m far more self-reliant and less Christ-like than I had ever seen before.

 

These shortcomings have always been there, but as I’m increasingly stripped of my routines, comforts and margin, I’m seeing more and more who I really am and where I need God’s grace.

 

Maybe you are, too. And that’s a good thing.

 

A Severe Mercy

Though it’s painful and a true tragedy, we can be thankful for this aspect of the Coronavirus. Through it, God is showing us who we really are. And, He is meeting us there in His grace.

 

There’s no way, of course, we can comprehend all God is doing through the Coronavirus. But we know from Scripture that God tests His people.

  • “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried” (Psalm 66:10, ESV).
  • “He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do” (John 6:6, ESV).
  • “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts” (Proverbs 17:3, ESV).

 

Whatever else God’s purposes for the Coronavirus may be, it’s at least a test that reveals what’s really in our hearts.

 

God’s Grace To Us Through The Coronavirus

But God’s testing is always for a good purpose, even when our circumstances are painful.

 

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4, ESV).

 

As the stresses, limits and failures resulting from this “trial” continue to grow, if we respond in joy and faith, James says that we will become:

  • “Steadfast,” firm and unwavering in our relationship with Christ;
  • “Perfect and complete” and “lacking nothing.” In other words, even though we won’t be truly perfect in this life, God is making us more holy—like Him—through these hard times.

 

It’s hard, but alongside the devastation, we will see God’s good, refining purposes through this in the end. As one fourth year medical student puts it, “God refuses to be less than faithful, and as undeserving as I feel at times, He is still leading me through every challenge. Even though my plans have been derailed, I am still confident things will come together for His good plan.”

 

What About You?

With everything going on, it can be hard to slow down and process what’s happening. And yet, a few moments of thought and prayer can yield tremendous benefit, so let’s take a moment and make this personal.

 

Here are some application questions for you:

  1. What is God revealing to you about yourself through the Coronavirus?
  2. How will you become more “perfect and complete”—more like Christ—if you respond faithfully with His help? (Be as specific as possible.)

 

May God take this difficult season and use it in your life to do “…far more abundantly than all that [you] ask or think, according to the power at work within [you]” (Ephesians 3:20, ESV).

About Bryan Stoudt

Bryan Stoudt is a pastor serving as CMDA’s Area Director in Philadelphia. He and his (awesome) wife Sharon have four wonderful children, and in his spare time Bryan enjoys running, reading, roasting coffee and learning languages. He blogs about following Jesus in a noisy, broken world at bryanstoudt.com.

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