Are you at home right now? Me too. Isn’t this all so….weird? In the last month, the world has changed dramatically. People are getting really sick. Some are dying. Healthcare providers are working around the clock. The rest of us have to stay home for an undetermined amount of time.
In my life, all my speaking events have been canceled. My husband has reduced hours at work. We just moved into our new home here in North Carolina, and Home Goods is closed. Yeah, I know, Wal-Mart is still open. But I don’t want Wal-Mart. I want Home Goods. In the scheme of things, this is probably a shallow desire. But we're all friends here, right? I can say these things to you.
I wake up every day and hope there will be a news briefing announcing this entire thing is miraculously fixed. Yet the ramifications of Covid-19 are unfolding day by day. I feel like we are all collectively holding our breath, unsure of what’s next. We are waiting to go back to our places of work and worship. We are waiting to get together with friends. Healthcare workers are waiting for a day off. We are all waiting for the Coronavirus curve to be flattened. It’s tempting to “wait and see” before making any future plans. It’s easier to stock up and hunker down and not think about tomorrow.
But we don't need to wait to hope.
Hope works best in times like these; in the unknown and unplanned. It's a reminder that what is will not always be. When your world shrinks because of pain or hardship, hope stretches it out again. It directs your sightline to further places than your own two feet. Hope shifts perspective from the immediate to the imminent.
So how can we embrace hope in our self-quarantined, social distance surroundings? We can look toward the future with optimism, discover the gifts of the present, and be generous along the way. We can trust that God has as many blessings today as He does when Home Goods is open. You don’t have to “wait and see” to hope. You can quarantine it in your heart and look toward the future by cultivating hope now.
Here are a few practical ways to quarantine hope:
1. Plan your next vacation.
When we once again can go anywhere without travel restrictions, where do you want to go? What do you want to see? Who would you like to visit? Pick a destination—even if it’s a bit crazy-- then research places to stay, where to eat, and things to do there. Read reviews and tips from other travelers. Use sites like Google Earth and Earthcamto do some online exploration. Find smaller, more personalized websites created by locals offering great tips on the cities where they live. Their insights are generally more interesting (and usually cheaper) than promotion-fueled travel websites. By planning for the future, you give hope to your present.
2. Eat what you’ve got in your cupboards.
Chances are you’ve got food in your cupboards and freezer that you purchased long before this quarantine. Remember those four cans of yams you never used for Thanksgiving dinner? Use ‘em up. Discover great recipes using the food you’ve got on hand. With the help of websites like fridgetotable.com, you can type in an ingredient or two, and tada! You’ve got great recipe suggestions. It reduces grocery store runs where social distancing is difficult. It thwarts anxieties that that lead to hoarding. By using what you already have, you’re reminding your soul that God will not only provide for you in the future, but that He already has provided.
3. Share supplies.
Speaking of God’s provision, there are churches and religious organizations that are bringing supplies to those who are high-risk or homebound. If you've got a month's supply of toilet paper, give three-fourths of it away. You can get more. It will be there. Philippians 4:19 states, “My God will meet your every need out of his riches in the glory that is found in Christ Jesus." I'm relatively sure this covers toilet paper. Don’t squeeze the Charmin—give it away.
4. Slow down.
It might seem ridiculous to suggest slowing down when we're all staying home. But just because your body is confined to a smaller space doesn’t mean your thoughts are. Stressful situations can cause us to busy ourselves with social media, television, projects, and phone calls. We’ll do almost anything to avoid being alone with our thoughts – especially when those thoughts might lead to feelings that are frightening or painful. But this particular, strange moment in history has been allowed by our good, trustworthy God. I’d hate for you to miss the blessings He is offering in it. Midnight is as planned for and essential as daylight. I believe this so much I wrote a book about it. When our faith is in Jesus Christ, the darker places in life offer just as much hope as the lighter parts. Don’t diminish the importance of difficulty by focusing only on getting out of it. For these next few weeks, we’ve been given a chance to slow down and be present where we are. Ask God what He wants you to learn. Then still your heart long enough to hear Him teach.
Today is burgeoning with hope. We can plan for the future, enjoy what we’ve got, and give it away with confidence. We can explore the painful, scary aspects of this quarantine because the Lord offers provision and grace in both the darkness and light, in the best of times and the worst of times, now and in the future--whatever it holds.