The Covid-19 global pandemic will most likely be a seminal event. When we return to normal it will be a new normal. How do we surf the turbulent waters of a seminal event? How do we live smart so that we don’t have to be afraid?
The Seminal Event
My Grandfather’s generation was shaped by WWI and the Industrial Revolution.
My Father’s generation was shaped by WWII and the Great Depression.
My generation was shaped by the Cold War and Vietnam.
My children’s generation is being shaped by 911 and now … a Global Pandemic.
These are called seminal events because they strongly influence what comes after. Seminal events change things. They deconstruct the norm and create a new normal.
The Babylonian Exile
In 597 BC the Babylonian army destroyed Jerusalem and carried her brightest and best citizens into captivity. They suddenly became slaves to the Babylonian Empire. They were strangers in a foreign land, torn away from their family, friends, temple, and city.
This was a seminal event. It turned their lives upside down and changed everything for generations to come.
The thing they didn’t know is that they would be the community to keep the Hebrew faith alive. They were the ones who preserved Monotheism and Torah.
The Babylonian Empire unwittingly crystallized the faith of the Hebrew exiles and ultimately paved the way for Jesus and eternal salvation.
Seminal moments are that important.
How to Navigate a Seminal Moment
I once faced a major decision in my life and was somewhat paralyzed with fear. I had a huge opportunity but wasn’t sure I could do it. I didn’t think I was good enough.
I called an old friend (literally, he was a lot older than me).
After reviewing my options, I confessed that I was afraid. I knew the pros and cons. I knew the risk. I knew the potential rewards. He said, “Ellis, don’t ever let your fears inform your decisions. Smart is always better than afraid.”
This is what the Bible says about being smart — “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7).
The prophet Jeremiah sent a letter to the Babylonian exiles with instructions from God on how to live in the seminal moment. He basically told them that smart is better than afraid. Then he gave them three tools to help them navigate the seminal event — how to be smart so you don’t have to be afraid.
1. Keep doing the important things
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease” (Jer. 29:5-6).
The temptation is to think that this difficult time is going to pass quickly. So you hunker down and just wait it out. You push to get your old life back — your old ways. But God warns against that.
The seminal event did not come so that you could stay in your old ways and methods.
Embrace your new normal with a resolute spirit. There’s a good reason for it.
A pandemic will burn away all the dross — all that is not important. It will force a laser-like focus on what is important. Only the important will last.
The difficulty isn’t going to pass quickly. Deal with it. Settle into your new normal with a resolute spirit. Do all the things you need to do in order to preserve what is most important.
2. Work to make your new normal prosper.
“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jer. 29:7).
This is crazy! The city he speaks of is Babylon. The Babylonians were the mortal enemies.
Jerusalem is still smoking, burned to the ground. The Temple is in ruins. All at the hands of the Babylonians. God was telling them to work for the peace and prosperity of the city of the very people who enslaved them!
Did Jeremiah hear God correctly?
Yes. He did. It was counterintuitive but true. Wherever you find yourself, for whatever reason you are there … plant flowers … make it beautiful. Don’t wait for others to do it. You take responsibility.
Pray for your city. Pray for your county. Pray for your economy. Pray for your leaders. If your city prospers, so will you.
3. Remember that you have a brilliant future.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'” (Jer. 29:11).
God wants you to know ahead of time what he is going to do for you.
God wants you to go through this pandemic (and anything else in life) knowing this — HE will be with you and HE will bring you through this and HE will bless you! You don’t have to be afraid.
“If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you …” (Prov. 9:12).
Smart is always better than afraid!