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What Good Can Come Out of this Crisis? Part 1

If you didn’t already know, Jim Harbaugh is a famous football coach. He’s also a devout Catholic. In a recent podcast interview with Jay Nordinger of the National Review, Harbaugh said that he doesn’t believe the timing of the COVID-19 crisis is by accident: “As I said, God has virtually stopped the world from spinning. I don’t think it’s coincidence. My personal feeling, living a faith-based life, this is a message or this is something that should be a time where we grow on our faith for reverence and respect for God.”

Although I totally agree that God is using this crisis to bring about a greater good, especially—as He does with all suffering—an eternally greater good, if Harbaugh is suggesting that God orchestrated COVID-19 to bring this about, then I have to respectfully disagree.

As I’ve said before: God doesn’t cause suffering; He redeems it!

Yes, God is sovereign. Yes, He’s in control. But, free will was His idea. He’s given it to us in order that His ULTIMATE will be done—to have beings capable of genuine love. And as Genesis 3 insists, evil and suffering are exclusively the result of sin—our selfish abuse of this precious gift of free will—not God’s intervention. Especially now, especially with a disease, especially with what philosophers classify as natural evil, it’s easy to lose sight of this.

However, this passage reveals one of the most basic and fundamental truths about God: He is never responsible for evil. He never directly causes suffering; He only allows it so that He might bring some greater—and especially eternal—good out of it.

As I’ve also said before, as finite beings we can’t even begin to imagine how, eternally, God will transform our suffering into an infinitely greater good. However, at times, we can see how God uses suffering for a greater good in this life.

Here’s where I think Harbaugh is on to something. The world has indeed virtually stopped spinning. And that’s been incredibly painful. But it’s also yielded some surprising benefits. As he suggests in his interview, people are praying more, showing more concern for others, and talking more about the sanctity of life.

In fact, I see three profound ways this crisis is affecting us that can continue to have a positive effect long after it’s over—IF we take advantage of the opportunities they present. I’ll share one this week and the other two in next week’s blog.

First, when most of us heard we were going to have to shelter in place, we felt a collective sense of dread about being stuck at home. Aside from having nothing to do, even though we love them dearly, we wondered how we would ever survive all this time with our families! And while it has been a challenge; and while I’m aware of some nightmarish exceptions (I’m thinking in particular of the rise in domestic and child abuse, and of those who are all alone), for most, the net effect hasn’t been dreadful at all. From what I’ve seen, people seem to be enjoying this extra time with their loved ones immensely. Whether playing games at home, hanging out in the yard, shopping for essential goods, or going for their recommended daily exercise, people seem genuinely happy about it. They’re smiling and holding lively conversations and gladly seizing the opportunity to be spend more time together.

One example stands out: While going for a run at a local park, I saw a father playing tag with his two children. All three of them couldn’t have been happier, running around and giggling and smiling from ear to ear. I’m guessing here, but I suspect he isn’t able to do that normally. Many parents where I live get up before dawn to commute to the city and don’t get home until late in the evening.

In modern America, we’ve made an idol out of work, a cult out of being busy. We used to set one day a week aside for “Sabbath”. Blue laws made sure everything was closed, so we had to slow down. And that afforded us the opportunity to enjoy time with our families and relax and recreate and recharge. As a result, our lives were far more balanced and healthy.

This crisis is giving us an opportunity for a prolonged sabbath rest. And while there are real challenges, overall, it’s affording us the opportunity to refresh and enjoy some balance in what has been far too hectic a pace of life.

By the way, for those who haven’t been given this opportunity; for all the essential workers, this crisis has made us aware of how much we rely on them—and how thankful we should be for them! Let us never take them or their heroism for granted again!

Just imagine for a second what it will be like when we finally work our way out of this—and we will, hopefully sooner rather than later. Things will return to normal at some point. When that happens, ask yourself: What will you miss about this time? I’m willing to bet one of those things will be the extra time with loved ones, the extra time to relax and recreate and recharge.

In the wake of 9-11, I remember so many people vowing to spend more time focusing on the things that matter in life. I’m afraid that didn’t last. But we’ve been given another chance. So, please God, when we return to that hectic pace again, I pray we remember to be intentional about setting time aside every week for a regular injection of this sabbath rest.

Because, one profound way God is using this crisis for the greater good—if we seize it—is by restoring more balance into our lives.

What good do you see coming out of this crisis? Or, do you think no good can come from it? Go to the “Contact E.J.” page of the Raising Jesus website and share your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you! May our Risen Lord, who brought new life out of the grave, reveal the good things He is bringing out of this crisis for you!

About Me

E.J. Sweeney is a true skeptic. He needs to see to believe. Hard Evidence. Compelling Proof. Solid Logic. This is what he believes in. In college, he encountered questions that the superficial faith he was raised on couldn’t handle. So he began a quest for Truth, a quest for the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

EJ Sweeney

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