There's that well known phrase when encouraging someone to keep going and pace themselves...."it's a marathon not a sprint".
And I guess in some ways with the current Covid-19 situation, we're in something of a 'long-distance' situation - time-wise at least, if not distance! But there's a significant difference - we don't know where the finishing line is or what things will 'look like' afterwards!
Just how long do we have to keep this social-distancing going for?! (introverts rejoice! J)
Not knowing the 'end point' makes it difficult to plan or pace ourselves.... and can perhaps lead us to feel a bit overwhelmed, especially if we are largely 'stuck indoors'.
As someone who has completed a couple of marathons one of the things that I did that seemed to help was to break the distance down into more 'manageable' chunks - the next mile counter, even the next lamppost! As the Chinese proverb goes "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step".
Maybe we look to do something similar - instead of thinking 'we don't know how long this is going to last - what am I going to do?!', we might begin to think 'what might I do today? what might I do this morning?'. Smaller chunks of time. Make a list if that helps and tick things off as you go along.
(There's further reflections around this sort of thing here - https://nickbaines.wordpress.com/2020/04/15/how-long-o-lord/)
There's no doubt about it, these are challenging times in ways that we might already know (the uncertainty, worries over health - our own and those we love, boredom(!), being alone, being in closer proximity to family members(!)....)....and also in ways that we perhaps hadn't anticipated (discovering aspects of our - and other people's - personalities that we'd rather not discover). You know what these 'challenges' are for you - add your own to the list.
However, if you imagine a coin and one side is labelled 'challenge' the other side could well be labelled 'opportunity' or 'invitation'. In these days we have the opportunity - an invitation even - to explore, discover and learn things that we may not have had otherwise.
What do I mean? Well, we may decide that now is the time to learn Swahili or chess or to listen to the entire back catalogue of Duran Duran....or read those books or try that recipe.....whatever it may be - you know what those things might be for you. (*Swahili is optional J)
It may also be a chance to contact that friend/neighbour/family member who up until now we just 'haven't had time to'.... I sent something through the post first-class just last week and it got to the person the very next day - amazing!! And last time I checked landlines and mobile telephones are still working!! ;-)
And of course, this time may well be an invitation to grow in our walk with God - both personally and together.
We have the chance to stop and re-assess what's actually important, what actually matters - especially as followers of Jesus. What adjustments might we make now to the 'way we do things' that we can carry forward into our post-covid lives?
Maybe, for example, we read through (or listen to) a short book of the Bible every day for a week ( :-O ) - I'd suggest Philippians or Colossians or a Gospel if you fancy something a bit longer - get to know the book a bit better and as you do, you'll get to know Jesus a bit better too.
A great resource for this sort of thing is bibleproject.com. There's loads of really good videos on this website around books of the Bible, and themes - and they're pretty short too!
If you'd appreciate a hand in terms of what and how to pray, this is a good little resource: https://www.tearfund.org/~/media/files/main_site/about_you/pray/coronavirus-prayer-guide.pdf?la=en
One last piece of advice (and this is one of the things said to front-line medical staff for their own sanity):
limit your media intake.....
If you really wanted to you could have Covid-19 morning, noon and night (coverage that is) - and that wouldn't be healthy or necessarily helpful.
I came across this piece in the Guardian the other week which puts another 'spin' on things, see what you think: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/10/coronavirus-good-news-upside-blessings-covid-positive
Let me finish with some verses from Philippians 4:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I've underlined what I thought to be pertinent.... continue to be gentle - with yourself, with others. Remember that - although it may not always feel like it - the Lord is near. He is with us.
May you experience the peace of God, and find opportunities to creatively share that peace with others you come into contact with, even in the midst of this particular 'storm', as we wait patiently (or impatiently!!) for it to pass.
All for now,