Back on March 14, when “social distancing” and “stay-at-home orders” were relatively new terms for us, my brother posted a picture of one of his favorite places—the lake where we spend the summer camping together. The picture showed the campground beach, blue skies, and calm waters—a welcomed respite from the chaos that was starting to overtake our world. He captioned the picture #coronabonus as a play on the word “coronavirus,” a term that has inundated our TV screens and newsfeeds in the weeks that have followed.
But the hashtag has stuck with me even as COVID-19, the now official term for this virus, has brought with it so many changes, restrictions, and challenges. Amid all the hard realities of life as we currently know it, there are also myriads of blessings. Believe it or not, coronavirus has also produced many a “corona bonus.” In a normally busy, often over-scheduled life, I’ve heard several people say they have enjoyed the forced slow-down of shelter-in-place. Being at home has allowed us to rest. It has allowed us to get reacquainted with our own families: eating dinner together, playing board games, drawing with chalk on the driveway, dad and son playing catch in the yard, and family walks or bike rides.
The shutdown of communities and entire states has given the skies time to clear and the earth time to heal from the massive pollution that clouds and distorts God’s handiwork. Spending so much time inside has given us a greater appreciation for sunshine and warm weather (here in Northwest Indiana), the natural beauty of creation, and a thankfulness for opportunity to cruise the open road with windows down, praise music blaring, and the sun warming your skin through the open sunroof.
One corona bonus that has really meant a lot to me has been having my daughter at home. While her life was turned upside down when her college campus closed and transitioned to classes online, she has also recently gotten engaged. Having her home as we start to plan her wedding has been a great blessing to me, and I am so grateful that we can share this special time together. Another corona bonus for me is increased opportunity to write. Be it weekly encouragements for our Celebrate Recovery ministry, blogs, devotions, or Bible study lessons, I am thrilled to be doing that which sets my soul on fire. Who would have thought that a worldwide pandemic could launch me into my sweet spot?
I’ve been so encouraged by the creativity and innovation of people, especially within the church. We can’t host a birthday party, so we decorate our cars and form a birthday train or parade. We can’t gather in person to worship as a body, so we turn our living rooms into sanctuaries and our kitchens into dance parties. Pastors are doing driveway drop-ins to love on their people while still maintaining social distance. We can’t meet together for Bible studies or small groups, so we create a Zoom room to maintain connectivity. For each of us who feel stuck at home, there is someone on the front lines, meeting needs and putting their lives on the line for the greater good.
All that said, we have unique and wonderful opportunities to be the church in ways we never have before. The extra efforts of our church leadership have allowed us to maintain engagement with one another as well as establish new community relationships. People are making masks for healthcare workers, drawing pictures, writing notes, organizing snack packs and gift bags for those on the front lines. We have opportunity to serve those who are most vulnerable by writing words of encouragement, providing meals, and grocery shopping for them. We can encourage our communities by supporting our local businesses (my family loves the new rhythm of getting takeout once a week!), posting quotes in your picture windows, or showing support with a sign in your front yard. This is what it means to truly BE the church! God’s Word continues to go forth with power! Only our God can take something meant for evil and destruction and use it for good and for the growth of his kingdom.
COVID-19 has given us the perfect reason for us to share the hope that we have in Christ Jesus! This season has pushed us into living with a sense of intentionality we may never before have considered. But this is it, friends. This is what it looks like to live on purpose! If you’re discovering that for the first time, you too have experienced a corona bonus! I challenge you this week not to be overcome by fear of coronavirus, but to be overcome with gratitude for corona bonus. Take note of all the blessings that God has poured out during this time and thank him for using even this hard season to reveal himself and to make you more like him as a result.
What’s your #CoronaBonus?