NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, March 31st. Good morning to you! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Here’s WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney on futures. And we’re not talking financial ones.
JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: What will be the score two months from now? I wish I could ask my future self if it’s safe to fly, or if the kids are back in school, or if the shelves are fully stocked. Or if I’m struggling to breathe and someone I know is dead.
Don’t panic, they say. I don’t see panic, just a larger number of shoppers stocking up, with an attitude of cheerful resignation. Last week many of them had decisions to make—about spring break, or meetings, or travel, or church.
Now all the decisions have been made for them.
A few days ago my 2020 Bible-reading plan started me on Luke. Talk about disruption! There they were, Zechariah going about his sacred duties and Mary tending her mundane ones, when a visit from the angel Gabriel turned everything upside-down. Zechariah trembled with fear and Mary was “greatly troubled.” Both struggled to grasp what the angel was saying. Both would later rejoice with songs of inspired praise.
If Mary could have seen her future self, sobbing at the foot of a cross, would she have sung of bringing down the mighty, exalting the humble, and scattering the proud? Disruptions can lead to happy results, or evil ones, or some of both, but on that Friday she could see nothing but evil.
Doesn’t everything, after all, end in the grave? The only difference is how we get there. And if that’s the case, Mary might have preferred to skip the angelic visit and the career of her remarkable Son. Better to forego all that wonder, joy, and consternation, if heartbreak was the certain end.
Unless you hold stock in Purell or Campbell Soup Company, you’d rather skip global pandemics too. Who wouldn’t say “No thanks” to a plunging Dow and a nationwide quarantine? Hey people, I have plans!
Try saying that to God.
He doesn’t have one purpose in the current disruption; he has millions of them. Suppose everyone slows and pays more attention to family and neighbors? Suppose our government honestly sizes up its emergency response and cuts some red tape? Suppose nations develop better strategies, break up some monopolies, and position themselves for next time?
Because, with increasing global connections, there will be a next time. Think of COVID-19 as a dress rehearsal, complete with technical glitches and missed cues, and it might help us prepare for something worse.
Also, think of the ground trembling under a tomb, a mighty hand pushing aside a thousand-pound stone. The greatest disruption the world ever saw has already happened, and we’re living it. I can’t predict next week, but Christ has predicted me. The near future is obscure; the ultimate one secure.
I’m Janie B. Cheaney.