Monday, September 21, 2020

We’re All In This Together, Right? Not So Sure About That

Several months ago, many of us figured that by now the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 would be a fading memory. One of those “good riddance” things. Obviously we were wrong. The virus and its consequences are very much with us. 

One of those “consequences” is continuing to hear famous recording artists and actors, celebrity athletes, and anyone with a “Who’s Who” type of name tell us, “We’re all in this together.” Well, not exactly. It’s true that in one way or another, we’re all in the same storm – but we’re definitely not all in the same boat.


Many of the we’re-all-in-this-together folks video their words of consolation from multi-million dollar mansions, or spacious ranches, or extravagantly designed urban apartments. Most of them, like our devoted and outspoken politicians, haven’t missed a single paycheck, while their fans and constituents were trying to figure out how to pay their bills each month, even every week.


Is the "boat" you're sailing in
going to carry you through 
life's inevitable storms?
So, to put it another way, some folks are weathering the COVID storm in jaw-dropping yachts or even ocean liners, while many of us are struggling to keep afloat in canoes, kayaks, or flimsy sailboats. Thanks for the words of encouragement, but when you tell us, “We understand,” we’re not convinced that you do.

I was thinking about this because even in non-pandemic times, the realities of everyday living can seem like a storm. Balancing a budget; trying to figure out how to pay to repair or replace things that break down unexpectedly; confronting the stresses of raising children or caring for grandchildren, who at times are just like angels, and other times, well, not so much. Coping with health issues, or the inevitable challenges of getting older. For many of these kinds of problems, it doesn’t seem to matter as much which boat you happen to be in.


From time to time we hear someone talk about the Titanic, the supposedly unsinkable luxury steamship that lost its close encounter with an iceberg on April 15, 1912, in the North Atlantic Ocean. On that fateful night, despite the unquestioned assurances of the ship’s designers and builders, more than 1,500 lives were lost that ill-fated night.


Contrast that to the simple fishing boat in which Jesus and His disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee. Matthew 8:24-27 tells us, “And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But Jesus was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ But He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith.' Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, ‘Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?’”


What a difference: So many lives lost in the sinking of a ship that its makers claimed was indestructible, while a group of devoted followers survived a violent storm that developed suddenly on a vast sea, only because they were traveling in the presence of the Lord.


This is a valuable metaphor to cling to today, when the future remains so uncertain – not only with what is yet to unfold with COVID-19, but also the upcoming Presidential election, widespread unrest, and the daily and unpredictable events of life. Whose boat would we rather be in? As Jesus taught similarly: 

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (Matthew 7:24-29).

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