The Standard May 14, 2020
Due to COVID-19 many Pitt County churches stopped holding in-person worship services starting March 15 and North Carolina public schools closed beginning March 16. On March 27 Governor Cooper issued a stay-at-home order which was extended until May 8. This past Friday evening marked the beginning of Phase One of a gradual reopening of the state. Much has changed over the course of these past two months of social distancing and flattening the curve.
Many “essential” workers have faced stressful overtime hours while large groups of hourly wage earners and “non-essential” employees and employers have found themselves at home. Ways of working have changed. Those who can have done their jobs remotely. The number of Zoom meetings and conference calls have increased dramatically. The vast majority of airline travel has come to a halt. Dine-in restaurants have adjusted to serving only take-out and delivery. Foodservice manufacturers and distributors which sold products to restaurants and commercial outlets have shifted parts of their processing and packaging to sell to grocery stores instead. All kinds of deliveries have been on the uptick. Plants have been retrofitted to produce hand sanitizer or to manufacture personal protective equipment. Methods of teaching and learning have changed. Grocery shopping has become different. Economic outlooks for many businesses and individuals have changed, with some being unable to rebound from the major hit. Many spring graduations have been transformed into virtual ceremonies. Proms have been cancelled and weddings modified or postponed. Birthday and anniversary celebrations have been postponed or recognized by well-wishers holding signs from a distance or throwing a parade. Trips and summer camps have been cancelled or postponed. Worship services and Bible Studies have gone virtual. Nursing home visits have morphed to waves and greetings from a window. Non-essential and elective surgeries have been postponed. Loved ones have had to face hospital stays and even death without being surrounded by family or close friends. Many of these changes have been devastating.
King Solomon, son of David and Bathsheba, searching for the meaning of life and wrestling with the changing nature of life writes, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
Throughout the ever-altering seasons of our lives, God remains constant. “I the Lord do not change. So you, descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” (Malachi 3:6) “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)
For almost one hundred years these hymn lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm have offered the assurance of God’s unchanging nature in the midst of uncertain times: “Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father; there is no shadow of turning with thee; thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not; as thou hast been thou forever wilt be. Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see: all I have needed thy hand hath provided—Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”