By Jenn Hesse
“Captain’s Log. Day: Who Knows?”
Since governors across the United States began issuing stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19, jokes about days blurring together helped us laugh and cope with cabin fever. Yet as weeks passed into months, and some states extended shelter-in-place restrictions indefinitely, the running gag lost its appeal.
We miss going to work, attending school, hanging out with friends and worshipping together at church. Staying home – either alone and battling loneliness, or with family members stepping on each other’s toes – is proving to be exhausting. Despite how we joke, we’re painfully aware of what day it is and when we want normal life to resume.
Quarantine has worn us out.
The waiting period we face today reminds me of the years my husband and I spent trying to grow our family. Waiting through tests, treatments and the adoption process left me confused, tired and anxious. The never-ending not-knowing stretched on until I nearly despaired of having a child. Just as we ask the Lord to heal the sick and restore our world from a pandemic, I begged him then to look upon my affliction and fill my aching arms.
In both types of waiting, we cry for an answer: How long, O Lord?
Remembering the gospel and the beautiful future Christ sealed for us gives us courage to face long periods of waiting.
A song of lament.
Our petitions echo those of a poet-king who waited on the Lord for deliverance. David had to run and hide from enemies multiple times throughout his life. Whether in a cave or another city, he sheltered-in-place for days or weeks, not knowing when or if he’d make it out alive.
As he wrestled with disappointment, fear and feelings of abandonment, David poured out his emotions before God in the form of a complaint, or lament. “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1)
David’s honest prayers articulated the discouragement I felt while waiting for a child. Rather than bottle his frustration and sorrow, David let it flow freely toward the God he believed was listening. Following the current of his lament led me to the solid ground of God’s enduring faithfulness. “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation” (Psalm 13:5).
Remembering God’s steadfast love helped renew my trust as I waited to welcome a child home. We can take the same approach as we endure day after day of home confinement. By recalling important truths about who God is, what he has done for us and how he continues to work in our lives, we can grab hold of hope that withstands ongoing uncertainty.
God doesn’t forget or forsake us.
Like David, we might feel as though the Lord has forgotten us while we wait for relief from circumstances such as infertility and a pandemic. Yet these feelings don’t align with what the Bible says about God’s character.
Before COVID-19 turned our world upside-down, before the world even existed, God chose his people to be holy and blameless before him (Ephesians 1:4). Those who put their faith in him are his adopted children, promised to inherit his kingdom of righteousness and given the privilege of calling him “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6).
Though quarantine is tempting us to complain about a range of difficulties from being bored to losing jobs and livelihood, God hasn’t forsaken his grumbling children. Because Jesus took our sin and became forsaken for us, we can rest in his work and take comfort knowing we’re beloved by God. “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob; he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine’” (Isaiah 43:1).
Jesus secures our future.
Before Jesus allowed himself be arrested, tried, and crucified, he comforted his disciples with a promise they didn’t understand at the time. “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2).
Unlike the disciples, we have the advantage of hindsight. We know Christ died, rose from the grave and ascended to heaven. But like the disciples, we struggle to believe what we can’t see. Especially when the immediate future looks bleak, like when months go by without a positive pregnancy test, or when we wake up to yet another day of social isolation, we forget that Jesus guaranteed our eternal well-being.
Remembering the gospel and the beautiful future Christ sealed for us gives us courage to face long periods of waiting. Jesus promised to make all things new (Revelation 21:5). We can’t pinpoint the exact date when he’ll usher in this new creation, just as we can’t see what the future holds post-coronavirus. But we can trust that our living hope won’t put us to shame.
The Spirit helps us in our weakness.
Jesus already fulfilled his promise to send a helper. As children of God and coheirs with Christ, we have peace not just within hand’s reach, but living inside us through the indwelling Spirit.
No matter how hard life gets or how slowly time drags, the Holy Spirit will be there to comfort us, remind us of truth, and intercede for us when it hurts to utter prayers. As we yearn to finally hold a child or to step outside the house and hug a friend, the Spirit will give us strength and groan with us, anticipating the day when creation will be finally and fully redeemed (Romans 8:23).
This is the hope that carried David as he waited for rescue, turning his cries of doubt into shouts of joy. However long it takes to flatten the curve and be liberated from quarantine, we can wait with hope in the Lord by remembering that he has dealt bountifully with us.