Over the past six weeks, I have heard several people use the same statement. As they talked about the year 2021, they have said with optimism, “When things get back to normal…” I suppose this phrase comes with the potential of a new year or possibly the distribution of a vaccine. Still, people are looking forward to positive changes in the coming months.
My issue with this thinking is the misguided belief that life will one day return to what it was like before the past year of Covid. The world has changed, and there is no going back. Things like hand sanitizer, masks, foggers, disinfectant wipes, latex gloves, and other safety precautions will always be a part of our lives. The fear of getting sick and the possibility of it leading to death will never be erased. In Church, the tools we use like social media and streaming videos are now part of our culture. Some of the people who stepped back from regular worship attendance are never going to return, while others have gone to other places. Many changes are here to stay no matter how badly we want things to return to what we knew before all of this.
Through the centuries of the Christian faith, the landscape has changed dramatically with new discoveries, inventions, and breakthroughs. Some of these changes have been for the better, and a few have made things worse. Still, we press on. As Jesus followers, we keep moving forward in the faith the God is working in all of this. Instead of longing for a past that will never return, we are to embrace the future possibilities for the kingdom of God. Sure, there are things about life before Covid that were wonderful, but some of those things are gone forever. The future for faithful people still shines brightly despite the changes. For believers, this is not a time to look back; instead, it is the moment for us to look forward and move confidently into the future God has prepared for us.
Hope is the belief that God has better things in the future than what we are experiencing right now. Christians are people of hope, both for eternity and on our journey in this life. I am not excited for when things get back to normal, but I am hopeful that God is doing his mighty work, and one day all of this will grow the kingdom of God in this world.