The pause button

Published 4:29 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2020

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For many years, the word unprecedented has been used for dramatic effect over and over. I’ve thought that it was used too much, but I cannot think of another time when the word is so suitable. Maybe September 11, 2001.

Our entire nation was shocked by the Twin Towers and Pentagon terrorist actions, but even then, the drama was localized. New York City and Washington DC were truly affected and all over the nation, on that Tuesday, we were glued to our televisions finding it hard to believe what had happened. But on the Wednesday after, the nation went back to work.

On that September 11, Tuesday night, churches held prayer meetings and vigils like we had not done in many years. On the next Sunday, church attendance spiked to all time levels. Americans were moved to “humble themselves, pray, and seek the Almighty.”

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This current challenge of the coronavirus is like September 11, 2001 on steroids! I’ve never seen our nation as stressed and shutdown as it is now. Even churches have been asked to hit the pause button for many weeks.

Schools all over the nation, affecting tens of millions of students have closed. Universities are ghost towns as they offer their courses through computers only. Hospitals and nursing homes in every state are restricting visitations.

The great New York City has closed the bars and restaurants. All sporting events, and you know how much our nation loves sports, have been temporarily canceled and some seasons are pronounced over!

The city of Atlanta was all set to host one of the most iconic sporting events this month, the Final Four of March Madness. I’ve worked in the hospitality business in Nashville, Tennessee, and I know what it means for an entire city to be “sold out” in hotel rooms. Every restaurant full of out-of-towners eating expensive meals and tipping bigtime. Souvenirs being sold all over the city to the tune of millions of dollars.

The estimation of lost revenue for Atlanta will be in the billions. In addition, there are conventions in every major city in the United States that have been canceled. The ripple effect for those localities may be in the trillions. In other words, the costs of this coronavirus pandemic will be unprecedented.

They say that every cloud has a silver lining. Can you find one today?

In our Christian faith, we are in the midst of our Season of Lent. It’s a season meant to offer a pause in our lives so that we may reflect upon our lives. We acknowledge our failures, but emphasize the hope, the real hope, that we have in the work of our Savior.

In a way, our nation has hit the pause button. We’ve been stopped in our tracks, so to speak. By taking such dramatic, and let me say it one more time, unprecedented, actions we may stop a life-threatening virus in its tracks. It’s possible that these few weeks of isolating ourselves, as we have never done before, may be just the medicine that is needed to prevent a much more serious occurrence. It might just work.

Our nation has been careening out of control for longer than most of us want to admit. That word “careening” is appropriate.

The word means that, at times, a ship is run upon a beach so that the hull may be repaired. Can you pray and think that the ship of the United States needed to be “beached” so that its hull can be caulked, repaired?

We have been sick long before the coronavirus came to our shores. To paraphrase a verse of scripture: “What could be perceived as harmful, God can use for good!” Pray for our nation.