June 13, 2020

Well after 12 weeks of COVID-19 “lockdown” and emerging healthy, I feel both blessed by God and a bit lost, as if I was just emerging from a 12 week stay in a tornado shelter. The feeling I have now, is similar to the one I felt when a tornado destroyed my new barn a few years back. I was stupefied, alarmed, forlorn and a bit mad.

But all the emotion did little to help me and nothing to resolve the financial hole, the circumstances dug for me. So I asked a very simple question, as I plotted my next steps toward the future…”what are we left with”.

The answer to that was both obvious and a bit mysterious.

What was obvious was the trail of debris that’s stretched across our property, the county road and into my neighbor’s field! I was just sick – all that money, all that time invested, all the plans I had for that barn, etc. – all of it literally blew away with the wind. What a waste!

Then, I discovered the mysterious – a surprising twist of good fortune. Not everything was lost – there were useful pieces of construction material among the wreckage. As my son Daniel, a neighbor and I began to pick up the debris I noticed the usable pieces and parts among the wreckage. Therefore, I decided to separate and salvage the useful from the worthless. As we did, I was already making mental plans for a DIY build of another “barn” from those useful parts and pieces. It would certainly be smaller but it would be useful and help me make progress forward toward my original dream.

Fortunately, it did just that. Yes, like a lot of dreams, parts of it were discarded out of pure impossibility, other parts were modified as the storm destruction taught me, experientially, about the types of structures that do best in tornado country. So we built from there and constructed a far better “live, work and play” environment than originally planned.

Indeed the disaster did dampen my joy and enthusiasm initially but it proved a friend; one that taught me a hard truth – one I hadn’t been privy to previously. I was learning the environmental dangers inherent in the area of our build, as well as where the better protected places were. Literally, I found the “better place” as I was looking for a secure location to move the salvaged material. It had been there all along, but I’d ignored it. Now it became a refuge – a place to move the pieces of my broken dream and rebuild. It was better suited to my needs; more durable, adaptable and thereby, enjoyable. It was a win.

Could the same be true of COVID-19?

Could the Coronavirus Pandemic be a passing storm – destructive but temporal, one that devastates, disappoints and dampens our spirit but also found helpful in redirection and ultimate life results?

Perhaps no, perhaps “it depends”, or perhaps yes because we take enough time to find, salvage and secure the useful pieces of our shattered dream, before we move forward to rebuild? Could that, would that, enable us to build something even more magnificent in its stead?

I believe that we too could find, after the shock of seeing our lives, business and loved ones strewn all over the landscape of COVID’s affects, that a mystery can unfold. I believe that as we search among “what’s left” – that there, laying in the field of life, are valuable assets we can piece together to remake our dream – and (can I be so bold) – make it even better than before.

In support of my bold assertion, I recall a man in scripture who shared a similar life dilemma of success, ruin and then re-success beyond his wildest dreams. He started out really well. Then a climactic moment of testing came; approved by the Lord and initiated by Satan, the evil one. His name was Job. Remember him? He’s a good case study for us.

According to Scripture, Job was fulfilling, if not his dream, certainly every other man’s dream. He had achieved a great reputation, family tradition and fabulous material estate, along with a legitimate priestly ministry. Then in a flash it was ALL taken from him, except for his vexing wife. What a shock, Job went from the pinnacle to the pit in one afternoon!

Yep, disaster can come suddenly and normally does – because, if we knew it was coming we could ‘quick, mount a defense’, to ward it off, or at least mitigate its destructive force.

Not so for Job and not so for us and the unwelcome COVID test. Note below the essential 7 stages of Job’s sojourn through the destruction, disappointment, despair and then redirection of thought, heart and actions that resulted in a life change which ended well!

  1. Job, day one, morning

“…that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.”

Job 1:3

  1. Job, day one evening

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped.”

Job 1:20

  1. Job, a few days later

“Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights

with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.”

Job 2:13

  1. Job, at the end of that long week

Afterward Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.

Job 3:1

  1. Job, as he argues his way through grief

“I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me;
Let me know why You contend with me.

Job 10:2

  1. Job, after a lengthy debate, as the crisis passes and his understanding is enlightened by the Lord

“The Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends,

and the Lord increased all that Job had twofold

Job 42:10

  1. Job, has his days end, his dream is more than fulfilled

“After this, Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons and his grandsons, four generations. 17 And Job died, an old man and full of days.”

Job 42:16-17

It did end well, didn’t it? And it can be so for you and me, too. Therefore, today, if you can relate, then you can also hope. Many of you have either, personally, lost something of significance in the last 90 days, or know someone who has. You are the ones I am particularly concerned about and I hope my thoughts help.

As you can see, in the 7 responses of Job (I did immediately) a similarity to Elisabeth Kubler Ross’s 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression then acceptance) take note, I am NOT making that comparison. Instead, I am driving at something different than emotional grief. I am driving at making lemonade from lemons – something good out of something bad. I realize emotional health is an attitude that must be in attendance with each step toward dream renewal, but it alone isn’t the calculus for success. Instead, hope, imagination, asset inventory, industry, counsel, time and planning are.

You see, we got into the mess, not of our doing; right? And we got into it quickly. But now we are left with all the responsibility for getting out of it – with no one to blame. Therefore, for me the question isn’t why or how did this happen – all blame questions. Rather, the question is “what now”. And the answer to that is right in front of you… and me. Yes it is. Note this applicable statement of truth…”Wisdom is in the presence of the one who has understanding, But the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.” Proverbs 17:24

So here is what I think is best, after reviewing the very human experience of Job.

  1. First accept it and give thanks that you once had it so good
  2. Second grieve for a bit, in a manner that doesn’t cloud your judgment or sink you into further despair. Express anger, shock, argue if you want, but don’t go to self-justification and blame others; or God.
  3. Then look around and take assessment of what you have left. And consider options for what you can do, constructively, with it.
  4. Next, prayerfully seek God’s guidance and counsel. AFTERWARD the counsel of others
  5. Now, entertain all your faculties, including emotions, intellectual, physical, spiritual, friends, professionals as well as material assets, in order to get started in the direction your assets afford you and your Lord seems to be directing you.

Now, it’s time to get going. Therefore, I suggest you simply start over with “what is left”; forgetting what was left behind. It is where you are that counts and nothing will change that. Only you and you alone, can change the outcome IF you are willing to enthusiastically, faithfully and determinatively go forward to the next dream; which God has circumstantially and sovereignly set before you.

BY THE WAY: If you are one of the population who has mostly escaped the negative ramifications of this disease destruction – of health; materially, physically or otherwise – then beware, that you do not become as Job’s insensitive and inquisitive friends. Their predetermined bias did not allow them to properly sympathize with the hurting heart of one who lost so much and for no apparent, personal, reason. (Galatians 6:2-5)

So – “What are we left with”? I guess it depends on what you see, and what you intend to do.