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These are strange times for us; lockdown is not what many of us have experienced before, although we should perhaps remember that for the chronically ill and elderly, perhaps little has changed in their daily routines. Most of us, however, find this period completely unfamiliar: the normality of work and school routines has gone; the normality of seeing friends and family has been disrupted; the normality of being able to go where you want when you want and do whatever you want has been severely impacted. Even the normality of church life has been shaken, for online services, however helpful, are not the same as the ‘real thing’! For most of us, this has meant much adjustment and the creation of a ‘new’ normality, or new routines.
We may be struggling to do this and struggling to know how to adapt, but people are hugely resourceful and creative, and most of us are adapting in many ways. We find in the Bible that this is not as unprecedented as we feel it is and can garner tips from people there as to how to live in abnormal normality.
Noah and his family lived in lockdown on the ark, with rain pouring down for forty days and forty nights and animals everywhere. I doubt that can have been a peaceful existence and yet they emerged with thanksgiving and praise.
The Israelites came from the relentless work schedule of Egypt into the wilderness where they moved at God’s command, never quite knowing whether they would stay in a place for a day or for months. They gathered manna for food, rather than enjoying a wider range of food they had known in Egypt, and it must have seemed an endless journey to them.
Later, God’s people would live in exile, far away from the temple and feeling mournful for all they had left behind. But in each of these situations, God’s people survived, with new routines, new food and new practices, because they learned to trust God with them through it all.
God’s presence with us is the constant in our abnormal circumstances and as He guides us through to some kind of new ‘usual’, we can have hope, strength, comfort and peace because of His never-changing nature and unfailing love.
Through it all you are faithful Through it all you are strong As we walk through the shadows Still You shine on. (‘Through It All’, Matt Redman)