The following article is an opinion piece and reflects the views of only the author and not those of AllOnGeorgia.
Woody Jarrett is the Lead Pastor of River of Life Church. Woody is married and is the father of four young adults. He currently resides in Waycross, GA.
“We interrupt this program to bring you this important message.” Or sometimes you will hear, “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test.” These messages come at the most inconvenient times. Sometimes it is right in the middle of an intense sporting event or a murder mystery. When the program returns to normal viewing, you would have missed the game winning shot or “who shot J.R. (from the TV drama Dallas).” Of course, you are livid because you did not think of setting your DVR. Even though we do not like the interruption of these messages, they have done the job of getting our attention.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has given us a new definition to the word “interruption.” The Coronavirus carried with it a demoralizing interruption to the lives of people in the world, and it is truly a test of the mind, body and spirit. The grinding halt to life’s routines, finances, businesses, entertainment and sports has been affected in gargantuan ways. And we dare not trivialize the psychological as well as the physiological toll on those on the frontlines of this battle. Our family and dear friends have taken direct hits, with some losing their lives from this virus.
While this devastation from the virus has interrupted our lives, is there any good that has happened? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” So, you ask, “What’s the good?” The one good is that the core unit of families have come back together. Do not miss the fact that families are talking to each other. They are using different forms of technology to communicate. We cannot help but notice families out in their yards, neighbors talking even if it is from a distance, kids playing outside and families taking walks together. The family, instituted by God, is rediscovering how to “love your neighbor as yourself.” The family is the first place where we practice how to “love your neighbor as yourself.” This is only possible because there has been a shift of focus in the family unit. The busyness of life is not so busy or rushed for the time being.
As an example of loving our neighbor, the Church must position itself to provide comfort, support, aid, and hope to families who are interrupted by marriages in trouble, domestic abuse, child abuse, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, depression, shame and economic setback. So, let those who have benefitted from the interruption be ready to compassionately love our neighbor back to the wholeness of life. This interruption has given families back the precious commodity of time. In Ephesians 5:16 the Apostle Paul writes, “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
Another way this verse is written is to “redeem the time.” To redeem is to buy back or to recover. While it is impossible to buy time or to recover time, we can make the best use of time now to prioritize the family. This interruption has given us time to do just that. We can only hope that families will use this time to reset their homes, set new goals and reprioritize the important things.
Let me address the other side of this interruption for families. All the not so good that was happening in families has now increased or magnified. Whatever abuses that were happening, you name it, has intensified. The escape from the house in way of going to school or work is not there. Some families, even with both parents working, were still struggling financially. What is happening in families if both parents are not working? The pressure cooker of providing for the family only escalates. For some families, there is the awkwardness of going to foodbanks and asking for financial help. Now think about families that are shaken with grief because loved ones have lost the fight against this virus. There are currently empty spaces in the family core that will never be filled.
How do we reconcile these two interruptions? We read in the Bible to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).” We celebrate the families who are benefitting from the interrupted good and we mourn with those who are grieving from the interrupted anguish. We join them, no matter the interruption, “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 9:19-20).”