We are living through an extraordinary crisis. Words fail. Everyone has a story; no one is immune from the implications of COVID-19. Every part of every life is impacted on every level.
As I, like everyone on our planet, work to navigate the challenges before us, I am reminded that there is one thing we cannot do: we cannot give up hope. Everyone hopes in something. My hope is in God. I do not doubt God’s wisdom or rightness; God is Sovereign—God is in, around, above, before, behind, under all things. In this present crisis, as always, I have some questions for God. But I know God hears my prayers every day. I trust God even in the midst of the storm; God is teaching us something in all of this.
With life now sideways and our feet treading in quicksand, I spent a few hours yesterday cleaning up our basement where I practice trombone and have most of my music, books, recordings, and files. It is there where tomorrow, I will begin teaching remote lessons to my students at Wheaton College (Illinois).
Sometimes when you go looking for something, you find something else. While filing away some documents yesterday, I came across the Boston Symphony Orchestra program for opening night, September 24, 2008, four years before I retired from the orchestra in 2012. It was the fifth year of James Levine’s tenure as music director of the orchestra, and the program included Pictures at an Exhibition of Modeste Mussorgsky, orchestrated by Maurice Ravel. The concert remains memorable to me, but the reason I saved that program is because of its beautiful cover image. It shows the center of the ceiling of Symphony Hall, Boston, where the middle of three crosses on the ceiling is illuminated by a chandelier. I spent many hours looking at that ceiling and its three crosses, which always reminded me of three crosses on a hill called Golgotha outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago where my Hope, Jesus Christ, lived, died and rose again, and gave me the Hope I hold. And now, looking at this beautiful, artistic photograph, I am reminded again of my Hope. Light in darkness. Good in the midst of evil. The solid rock in the midst of sinking sand.
In the midst of this storm, the only hope we have is in God. Pray for deliverance from this pestilence. Pray for safety. Pray for wisdom in how we can help others. Pray for others who have greater challenges than we have. Pray that when this ordeal is over, we will act in new ways in light of the lessons we are learning today. This we pray. Amen.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
[Header image: Sunrise over the Sierra Estrella, Goodyear, Arizona, 2012. I took this photo from the front porch of our home where we lived from 2012-2018. Sunrise. A new day. Hope.]