July 2, 2020
By Deb Benigni
“The water prevailed upon the earth for one hundred and fifty days.” —Genesis 7:24
As of today I have been in my house for 111 days. Even though it’s not because of a flood, I think I have a better understanding of how Noah must have felt as the storm raged and the earth was submerged in the waters. He was alone except for his family and the animals (in my case, it’s me and my two cats).
It hadn’t occurred to me how much quarantine was going to be like being in the ark. Thank heaven my house doesn’t smell like a zoo and is relatively quiet without sheep bleating, elephants trumpeting, and lions roaring. Noah had plenty to do on that ark, but I’m sure by the time it was over he was more than ready to get off. Yet when the 40 days of rain stopped, there was still more waiting…for the water to recede, for God to move upon the earth, for a chance to settle on dry land.
Carol McLeod wrote the book StormProof: Weathering Life’s Tough Times, which we’re reading in a small group I lead. She says there, “I am not particularly fond of waiting, are you? Yet I have determined that waiting is unavoidable…We must all wait for something, so we might as well decide to wait well.”
I’ll admit I’m not patient, and being home alone has made this a difficult season. Some days are better than others. I’ve been trying to use my time wisely, so I’ve probably read more “church books” in the past three months than I have in the last three years. I’ve prayed more earnestly and had more discussions with people about faith from my home then I ever did in the physical building of the church. I’ve used this time to care for others (sending cards, sewing masks, making jams/jellies) and to care for myself.
But still I am waiting…am I doing it well?
One way Galilee member Deb Benigni has stayed busy in quarantine is by sewing masks, including making PPE for the Loudoun County PPE Makers.
I take comfort in the fact that storms are temporary: “No storm lasts forever—even though it might feel as though your particular storm has been never-ending,” says Carol McLeod. “If you are weary due to the length of the deluge that has poured into your life, look for signs of a new beginning. Listen for sounds of a peaceful new day.” So I am looking and listening for signs of what a post-COVID world looks like.
I am hopeful…but I’m also cautious.
Cautious, because for many the aftermath of the storm may be harder than the storm itself. Some of our folks are going to struggle with life after the storm and all that entails. We’re a church that is focused on mental health issues, and I think the issue of PTSD is going to affect some who got sick or lost loved ones, some who lost jobs or opportunities, and even some who remained relatively unscathed. I speak from experience here. We have to be concerned for our brothers and sisters who are struggling, whether it’s from illness, financial loss, kids being out of school, or the societal issues of racism that are also now in the forefront.
We still have some waiting to do before we can return to normal, so let’s do a few “good things” while we wait:
- Care for each other. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.” —1 Thessalonians 5:11
- Pray and worship. “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.” —Acts 16:25-26
- Wait well. “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’” —Lamentations 3:19-24
- Rejoice. “May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.” —Psalm 20:5
As you know, the flood eventually ended. Water receded from the earth, and then something miraculous happened. Noah and his family celebrated the covenant they had made with God with a sign made possible by that very water:
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” — Genesis 9:12-14
Deb Benigni has been a member of Galilee since 2005. She has written email devotionals for the church, leads Galilee small groups virtually for people all around the country during quarantine, and is active in the Galilee Book Club.