We have all been in “The Middle” of something, where one way of living has ended and another way has just begun. However, it is rare that we are all in “The Middle” together like we are now with the COVID-19 pandemic. I can remember completing the eighth grade year in middle school and being terrified that summer before entering High School. I remember talking to my parents and they assured me that it would be okay and in some ways it would be even better. I remember thinking, “I sure hope so!”
Please read Daniel 1:1-6; 2:24 and 6:1-28.
This book is written in a time of exile for God’s chosen people. They have been conquered by earthly kingdoms of the day and they’ve lost their way. These were very hard times–a time of transition, certainly. Daniel embraced this separation and put his hope for the future in God. In this book, Daniel had some prosperous times. He advanced in status with the King and became one of his trusted advisors. Daniel also experienced desperate times–like having people conspire against him and being thrown into a pit of lions to be left for dead. What I love about Daniel is that no matter what the situation, good or bad, he put his hope in God.
Hope is a funny thing. It is defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. It is easy to hope when things are good–like when our 401K is rocking along or when we can go to our favorite restaurants and hangout with friends and family. But when we are thrown into “The Middle” and see unemployment rates soar, the stock market crash, and our hospitals overrun, it is hard to even know what to hope.
My challenge to you is to be like Daniel who put his hope in God in the good and bad times. As Daniel was facing certain death, he did not waiver and kept up the practices of the faith. Many of us experience hope in a passive way. Genuine hope is not something you turn on and off but transcends every aspect of your life.
- Hopeful people are grateful for what they have. Take a moment each day and write down the things you’re thankful for and maybe even send a thank you note or two.
- Hopeful people look at the world and dream about how it can be different. Look at ways we can make our community healthier and better for all of us.
- Hopeful people look at every experience, even bad ones, as things that can bring value to our lives. What are you able to do now with the social distancing guidelines that you didn’t otherwise have time for?
- Lastly, hopeful people are generous and giving. What can you do during this pandemic to make a difference in people’s lives? Maybe it’s giving of your time, talents, gifts, service and your witness to those around you. (Yes, that was a Methodist clergy-juke using the Church membership vows.)
After middle school I was in “The Middle” of a hard summer but do you know what? My parents were right! Some things were better in high school–more freedoms, marching band, NJROTC (look that one up), and friends. When Daniel was in “The Middle,” he put his hope in God in good and bad times. When he came out of the lion’s den unharmed, the king rejoiced and the one true God was able to flourish. As we go through “The Middle,” we are anxious and sometimes terrified, but we have hope in Jesus. Just because life won’t be the same when the coronavirus has passed doesn’t mean some things won’t be better.