As the saying goes, “Hindsight is 20/20,” which infers that looking back adds clarity. Well, 2020 is behind us now, and through the fog of Covid19 challenges we can find glimpses of clear and useful lessons that can help all of us better cope in the future. Here at Creation Illustrated Ministries, we have found five of them to keep in your back pocket as reminders that “past is prologue” which can have a positive affect on everyone—even eternally.
1) Heroism resides in all of us. While hospital staff, ambulance drivers, grocery workers, and utility providers seem to always be there for us, we now have a new appreciation for their selfless service to humanity. By definition: “Heroism consists of putting others first, even at your own peril.” The noun heroism comes from the Greek hērōs meaning someone who shows great courage. Although we live in a society where superiority, attainment, and power often reign supreme measures of individual worth, the biblical concept to esteem others higher than yourself shines through as a vital character trait that uplifts everyone during times of hardship.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Phillipians 2:3, 4, NIV).
Even in nature we witness acts of benevolence. For example, the often vicious badger will share its den with other creatures such as coyotes that serve to protect the badger, as told in the Winter 2021 edition of Creation Illustrated magazine. Countless symbiotic relationships exist by Divine design, not the least of which include the bee, the flower, and the fruit upon which we depend for our very existence.
So our very being needs to be ready to respond with humble acts of heroism rather than remaining in constant isolation while assuming this is someone else’s job.
2) Charitable giving is inescapable. The needy and homeless among us have increased in numbers exponentially with the loss of millions of jobs. We often look to government assistance to care for the poor and less fortunate in times of economic decline, but in reality, we are the government. We determine how resources are produced and distributed. We typically pay various tariffs that get re-allocated in ways that may or may not be effective or logical. So to ensure useful assistance to those in need, we each can look to our abundance and find a way to share something, anything. The recipient obviously benefits from a hand lifting them up out of despair, but the giver also benefits from the joy of selfless compassion toward fellow humans.
The biblical counsel, “It’s more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35), and “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8) guides us away from worldly “survival of the fittest” tendencies and toward connecting with others through heartfelt benevolence. Our ministry has experienced an amazing influx of generosity and contributions in 2020 that encourage us to boost our efforts to bring the healing power of nature and Creation to hospitals, prisons, and schools. Our gratitude cannot be put into words, so we choose to respond by furthering our global outreach to hurting souls.
3) Death is more than a number. All of the Covid19 graphs, tallies, and projections of the dead and dying pour cold calculations over heart-wrenching loss of life and torn family fabrics that cannot be fully mended. Such statistical devaluation of humans harkens back to the 1960s when the evening newscasts flashed a “scoreboard” on TV screens showing the cumulative number of American and Vietcong deaths as if this was a valid measure of victory. Our ministry is dedicated to revealing the wonders of living creatures and verdure to help demonstrate that death was never a part of God’s original Creation. Yet we need to recognize that coping with loss and grief also calls upon our symbiotic “codependency” that comforts one another in times of loss.
The biblical assurance, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4) is not a nebulous notion that this will happen automatically. It is part of a series of promises that call each of us to participate in comforting those who suddenly need a huge void filled in their lives—much more than a card in the mail or a casserole on the doorstep. Empathy means experiencing someone else’s feelings. It requires an emotional component of personally identifying with the other person. Sympathy, on the other hand, means understanding someone else’s suffering in a more cognitive way that keeps a certain distance.
Learning from 2020 how to reduce the vast numbers of losses to individual pain helps us know how to respond in a way that we would want others to respond to us.
4) Social interaction is not optional. Being told to “social distance” during the Covid era places a painful misnomer on how we should relate to one another. Preferably, the term should have been “physical distance” which is much more descriptive and to the point. Social distancing void of personal interactions has plummeted countless souls into isolation, depression, and disorientation. As social creatures, people have found ways to connect through online portals and cell phone apps that have allowed families, friends, and coworkers to interact. Even choirs, bands, conventions, and churches have found ways to gather via technology.
Proverbs 13:20 advises: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm” so we need to be careful about who and how we associate with others. But we are also counseled to “love our enemies” and to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”
Such admonitions challenge us to reach beyond our comfort zones to find common ground with others in an era of disagreement, disruption, and disinformation. The enemy is seeking to isolate us and divide us from one another, whereas God designed us to interact. Our ministry provides material that can be enjoyed by entire families or reading groups to build connections that might not otherwise exist.
5) Getaways are essential. While we cannot fully comprehend the scope and number of lives impacted by Covid restrictions, we empathize with those in the travel industry suffering from the closure of hotels, restaurants, resorts, and transportation options. Each of us can do whatever possible to help these businesses survive while trying to improvise and replace those minor or major outings that friends, families, and coworkers crave.
Our ministry seeks to encourage people to get outdoors and away from our protective bubbles. Finding common joys in nature is a profound way to connect on common ground. But even from the safety of your living room sofa we can take you places you’ve never been before. In fact the current Winter 2021 edition of Creation Illustrated takes you to the grasslands of northeast Colorado for birdwatching, two places in Africa, and even to China. Beyond that we invite you to explore with us the outer reaches of the stellar universe to listen to the songs of the stars! If you clamor for a getaway in these restricting times, let us help you fill this void with not just interesting adventures but with mental and spiritual enrichment.
While we cannot prophesy about what exactly will happen in 2021, we need not be a prophet to know that we are one year closer to Christ’s return when we are called forth to embrace a getaway that is out of this world!