This too shall pass

We are Americans! We will emerge stronger than before.

Two weeks ago I didn’t imagine I’d be living in the midst of a pandemic so widespread that every country in the world would be impacted. I didn’t imagine that citizens in the free world along with socialist and communist societies would be ordered to stay home and not leave except for necessities. Yet, here we are.

Faith is an important part of my life. I spend time most mornings reading my Bible and praying for comfort and direction in my life, and for family, friends, and others who need God. When times are tough I see the purpose to this daily habit—my mind is flooded with things I’ve studied before that apply to such times. Today, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 comes to mind:

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

Seriously, there is “a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” Ecc. 3:5.

Some who read this passage don’t find comfort. In fact, when you consider the bad portion of each verse, it’s depressing. Yet, when you consider it in light of our own history, it’s encouraging. On a lighter note, you can’t have a rose without the thorns. In America’s history, we have experienced far more roses than thorns, yet we are foolish to ignore the reality that just as God promised in Ecclesiastes, and we’ve experienced as Americans, you cannot have the good without the bad. Now’s a good time for a brief history lesson as proof of this truth.

King George and parliament used the colonies to fund their wars. When the colonists resisted taxation without representation and the siezing of arms, British troops invaded. The colonists came together knowing that if they lost, they would sacrifice not only their liberty and property, but their lives. As Benjamin Franklin put it, “we must hang together or we’ll surely hang separately.” Patriots died. Everyone suffered. But the bad times passed with victory, and blessings followed. It also resulted in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, which we will soon need to ensure that this crisis doesn’t end as an excuse to wrest away our freedoms and inalienable rights.

The British didn’t take the loss well. In fact, in the time leading up to the War of 1812, they seized America’s merchant ships and forced American sailors to serve in their navy. America declared war on Britain. Britain invaded America and burned the capital to the ground. We won again. But there was again sacrifice and fear, followed by blessings.

There were other sacrifices and difficult times in between, but the most apparent time of sacrifice to follow was the Civil War. Indeed, one group of Americans were continuously victimized and not experiencing any time of blessing, slaves, from the nation’s founding up to the Civil War. Put where we are now in context of America’s slaves, who were beaten, abused, sold out of their families for generations. Slaveholders even used the Bible to justify this oppression. This injustice led to a war where more than 600,000 Americans died and countless treasure sacrificed. (Please spare me the “states’ rights” argument.) Our president was assassinated, and this resulted in a reconstruction period that ensured that former slaves would live as second class citizens for another few generations.

More than 116,000 Americans died in WWI. The Spanish Flu pandemic that followed killed another 675,000.

More than 416,000 Americans died in WWII.

Almost 34,000 Americans died in the Korean conflict.

More than 58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam conflict.

More than 7,000 Americans died in the 1st and 2nd Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and occupations.

Add to the sacrifices in these wars and conflicts economic setbacks of various recessions and the Great Depression, and it’s obvious that the current generation has been spared from much sacrifice. We are a little spoiled.

But the purpose of this post isn’t to criticize our reaction to the covid-19 crisis and how our government is responding, it’s to point out what has always happened in times of crisis throughout our history. We always persevered and emerged stronger. Pastor Darren McClintock of Central Christian Church began our online service this morning with Psalms 30:5: “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” We’ve lived this truth time and again. We’ve sacrificed. We’ve chosen to be optimistic about the future. We always experienced joy in the morning.

It’s not Christian and certainly not biblical, but the phrase “this too shall pass” has truth in it. The covid-19 pandemic shall pass. When it does we will remember the bonds that we renewed with family and friends, and the shared sacrifice we made to survive and eventually thrive. Just like Americans have been doing for centuries.

God bless you, your family, and friends,
Hon. Kevin M. Smith

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