By Betsy St. Amant Haddox, Crosswalk.com
When you’re in the middle of a storm, it’s hard to imagine that it could ever end. When the thunder is crashing and the lightning is flashing, you start to think the storm is here to stay. It’s all-consuming and frightening. Logically, we know that at some point, the sun will peek from behind the dark clouds, the air will clear, and the water will dry up. But convincing our emotions and fears to listen to logic is often a losing battle.
I recently had a friend who went through five months of chemotherapy. She got to ring the bell, signaling her last treatment just the other week. She made it! But in the beginning, it felt like an endless journey before her. When we’re parenting prodigals, nervously eyeing our dwindling bank accounts, taking care of aging parents, or going through a health battle—the storm can seem never-ending.
This nation-wide quarantine has felt the same. Worry, anxiety, and concern abound over all the what-if’s and unknowns. I’ve fought the illogical questions myself of “what if this never ends? What if we’re stuck in our houses forever?” But, like every storm, it will eventually pass. There might be lingering damage in its wake, but the waters will recede. Our country’s “new normal” might look a little different than it did before the pandemic, but there will be a new normal. Life will resume.
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.” (Psalm 107:28-31 NIV)
The question becomes—will you be ready? Will you forget the lessons learned during this pandemic? Will you go right back to complaining about the heat of the sun and forget about the torrents of rain that just ended? Or will you have a heart that’s permanently grateful, focused on thanksgiving, and ever counting your blessings?
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)
Here are 10 things to stop taking for granted after the pandemic.
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The Bible is clear in its command to meet with other believers on a regular basis.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25 ESV).
The church needs each other. Many churches were able to meet via online sessions during the pandemic, while others had drive-up services where each family stayed in their car. While the church itself isn’t a brick-and-mortar building, there’s something very beneficial in meeting together, in person, in a building on a weekly basis. When the pandemic is over, be sure not to take for granted the blessing of fellowshipping together in church.
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2. The Lord's Presence
When people are going through hard times, the presence of the Lord is stronger than ever in their lives. Typically, this is due to the pressing need and lack of distractions. When we truly feel our need for the Lord, idols fade to the background. Our need for Christ is the same every day, but in times of trial, it weighs heavier on the heart. This can be a blessing in disguise. When I went through the worst storm in my life—my unexpected, unwanted divorce—I had never felt so near to Him.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 ESV)
After the pandemic, be sure not to let His nearness and your need for Him fade. Keep that in the forefront through praise and prayer.
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3. Date Night
One thing I know I’ll never take for granted again is the ability to go on a real date night, outside of the house, without my kiddos! Many couples got creative while on quarantine, such as having their children serve them dinner in the kitchen on a pretend date, sharing a glass of wine on the porch, or driving around the countryside together. Eating inside a restaurant, leisurely strolling through a public park and enjoying a crowded concert will never be the same again. Hopefully, we’ll all be grateful in new ways for these old joys and simple pleasures.
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4. Physical Contact
Never again will I take for granted a big hug from a family member or friend. “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (2 Corinthians 13:11-12 ESV)
Physical affection is a legitimate need for many. Having to refrain from handshakes, high fives, and hugs has been difficult for a lot of people. When the pandemic is over, be careful not to take for granted the freedom to give and receive affection.
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5. Extended Family and Friends
The pandemic has separated many families. With the government-issued direction to avoid other households, many extended family members haven’t been able to communicate in person—especially those at high risk. When the quarantine is over, remember how eager you were to see your family and friends, and make the most of it. Schedule that coffee date you used to put off with an old college buddy. Reach out to make a lunch date with that single mom at church you wanted to minister to. Go visit your aging parents or grandparents. Never take it for granted again.
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6. Shopping without Fear
Something I believe we’ve taken for granted over the years is the ability to shop without fear of catching a disease or getting too close to a stranger on the grocery store aisle.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)
Regardless of how contagious COVID-19 is, regardless of how nerve-wracking it is to be around strangers, God is still in control. We are experiencing trouble on this earth, as promised, but we also know that Jesus has overcome the world. And one day, pandemics and viruses and illness won’t rule any longer. When the pandemic is over, I’m going to remember His faithfulness and praise Him every time I go into a store—fear-free.
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The Bible says in the first chapter of Job that the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. In America, we’re used to freedoms that other countries don’t enjoy. During the pandemic, a lot of those freedoms were restricted, removed, or at the least discouraged. After the pandemic is over, it’s important to stay grateful for those freedoms that were hard-fought over the centuries and be thankful for the ability to gather for church, peacefully assemble in groups, and come and go as we please.
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8. Small Businesses
Many businesses had to close during the pandemic, at the risk of not being able to reopen. While on quarantine, my family and I tried our best to support some local chains, especially restaurants, and shop online through different sources than our usual. When the pandemic is over, try to broaden your horizons and keep small businesses on the forefront of your “add to your cart” list. They’ll need the help!
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9. Paychecks and Jobs
Many people were not considered essential during the quarantine, and were furloughed from their job, sent home with no pay or less pay, or had to apply for government help to pay their bills. Others were able to work from home with no change in their paycheck, but struggled just the same to adapt to their new environment—especially if that environment was interrupted by kids or other family members. After the pandemic, it shouldn’t be difficult to not take your job or your paycheck for granted—and remember to help be a blessing to someone else who might need the additional assistance in bouncing back.
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Good health is one of those things you don’t pay a lot of attention to until it is gone. It seems that everyone knows someone who tested positive for COVID-19. While on quarantine, my husband came down with a non-virus-related ear infection that had him in agony for days. Getting doctor’s appointments and prescriptions during the quarantine was more difficult than before. Many families struggled with treating themselves at home for fear of going to the doctor or hospital and risking exposure to worse. When the pandemic is over, it’s important we don’t take for granted our health and the health of our loved ones. As we have seen, it can change in a moment. We shouldn’t live in fear, but rather, in gratitude—grateful for each day’s new mercies.
Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of more than fifteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her hubby, two total-opposite young daughters, a vast collection of novels, and an impressive stash of Pickle chips. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored in Christ. When she’s not sweating it out at Camp Gladiator or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha. Look for her latest novel with Revell, titled The Key To Love, coming October 2020. Visit her at http://www.betsystamant.com
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