[caption id="attachment_172065" align="aligncenter" width="1180"] Image: Pexels.com (2016), CC0/PD[/caption]
I closed my eyes and found myself in a cocoon -- the coronavirus cocoon of isolation. Where was the familiar life I knew yesterday? Here God wrapped me in his protection by confining me to a small space and captivating my heart. Instinctively, I struggled to escape. Each struggle to escape brought me a new understanding of myself and, finally, peace in God’s will. I settled into the attitude of learning what He intended to teach me.
In my coronavirus captivity, God was shaping me into the woman I need to be when I fully emerge into a new life. He was giving me the strength, wisdom, and faith to survive in the world outside that was becoming so different from what I remembered. He was teaching me not to expect or long for the old life I had, but to trust Him for this new life He has for me.
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I remember a story of school children watching a cocoon develop in their classroom. A couple of them, seeing how the larvae was struggling to get out, decided to help it by cutting the end of the cocoon, thinking they were releasing a butterfly. The larvae’s wings had not developed the strength to fly outside the cocoon and died. After I surrendered my need to know when the pandemic would end, I could freely accept God’s will.
The ‘in-between’ world
I wondered what an “in-between” world would look like before it evolved into a steady-state of existence. What would be different?
I remember vividly my 9-11 experience in Washington, DC, when the world changed. Some changes remained entrenched, such as security checks at the airports, public buildings and sports arenas. What will remain in force after the coronavirus pandemic? Masks and social distancing? Endless temperature checks? Scarce jobs and scarce groceries? What fears will haunt us, such as fear of going to a hospital?
As we emerge, we find our neighbors, fellow parishioners, and coworkers showing a wide range of emotions -- anger, fear, grief – all stemming from the same insecurity we are fighting. Most of them long for life to be restored exactly like it was before. But from the depths of any disaster, fresh opportunities surface that we had never imagined before the crisis.
How will we respond?
God has a vision for us, and He can be trusted to bring us the best outcome and timing. We can emerge from this cocoon as encouragers by stepping up to opportunities to share what God did for us during this lockdown.
Or we can emerge as complainers, kicking and screaming and demanding restoration of our former lives — fully and immediately!
Encouragers emerge by strengthening their relationship with Jesus Christ. When we are open to God’s love and surrendered to Him, His love overflows from our hearts. The pandemic put us in a cocoon of vulnerability where God can fill our hearts with His love. Let Him now fill it to overflowing with His hope. Bathed in God’s consoling love, that’s what we encouragers have to offer: HOPE!
Review your experiences since the beginning of the pandemic. What has the Lord brought you through? Think of one particular incident. Specifically, what story can you share of how God has given you hope when you needed it? Perhaps, like me, you have failed to trust Him at times. Did He abandon you or reveal His merciful love to you in an unexpected way?
Tell them what you are most grateful for. Tell them about your hopes for the future based on God’s faithfulness. If your post-pandemic life reflects God’s goodness, many will see a change in you and ask you why you are so hopeful. How will you respond?
Always be ready
Stories effectively convey our most authentic message as we try to express what’s on our hearts. In fact, St. Peter instructs us in 1 Peter 3:15-16:
Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for the reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence.
When you share what God did for you in the last few months, you’re not bragging about how well you survived the pandemic; you are giving glory to God for His goodness. And that goodness can emerge for others as they seek it as a refuge from their misery.
C.S. Lewis uniquely expressed sharing our faith in Mere Christianity. He said we are to spread “the good infection; spread Jesus Christ to others.”
I challenge you to counteract the coronavirus effects with the antidote of your witness of how Christ is transforming you.
What personal story of hope will you share as you emerge?
Copyright 2020 Nancy HC Ward
About the Author
Nancy Ward authored Sharing Your Catholic Faith Story: Tools, Tips, and Testimonies (and the DVD) and contributed to The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion. She loves to share her conversion story and give evangelization workshops and retreats equipping others to share their faith. She facilitates the DFW Catholic Writers, Catholic Writers Guild Nonfiction Critique Group, serves on their Board, and speaks at writers’ conferences. Learn more at JoyAlive.net and NancyHCWard.com.