The Weirdest Day

Three years ago—March 11, 2020—was an unprecedented day.

Just five days before (Friday, March 6), it was a bright sunny day, and it felt like spring; a perfect Friday. My uncle Rob called me; he and I had planned to meet for lunch at our favorite local pizza place, “A NY Slice,” that afternoon. He said he was feeling really good on this Friday, and had called ahead and ordered us a large pepperoni pizza, and that I would probably arrive there before he did, so just find a place to sit and he’d be there shortly after. He and I both arrived and shared a delicious pizza and fountain drinks. Before eating, though, I took a photo of the pizza because it just looked so amazing (I’ll get to why I mentioned that in a minute)

We sat there and talked about all sorts of stuff, but mostly the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (“March Madness”). Neither of our teams was likely to make it to the Tournament this year, although there was still a slight hope that one or both could win their Conference Tournament and get in.

On the evening of Tuesday, March 10, I sat in front of the television and watched the ACC Tournament first round game between North Carolina and Virginia Tech, while watching the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament Final between Hofstra and Northeastern. The craziness hadn’t quite started yet, but there was still an odd feeling that something was changing.

By the end of the night on March 11—three years ago right about now—I posted on Facebook that it had been the most bizarre day I could ever remember: the Dow Jones had plummeted 700 points, there was talk about shutting down all travel from Europe, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson tested positive for the virus, the NBA had suspended its season, it was announced that the NCAA Tournament would go on with no fans in attendance. All the news stories were about the Coronavirus. People were going crazy.

The next day, all the remaining Conference Tournaments in college basketball were canceled, and finally, the NCAA Tournament was canceled as well.

Church on that Sunday was weird too; we were one of the only churches in Richmond who were still holding services in person. I remember as I was leaving, I looked at one member (I forgot who) and said something to the effect of “see you…sometime…”

I keep that photo of the pizza on my phone as a reminder of how quickly things can change; five days after that photo was taken, the world was a very different place. It was the last photo I took while everything was considered “normal.”

For essentially the rest of the year, everyone had to forgo all their plans, and do everything “virtually” (unless they were looting businesses or burning down churches and police stations and terrorizing innocent people—then for some reason it was totally acceptable and nothing was done about it), all in the name of being “safe”—as if it has ever been 100 percent “safe” to even go outside—but that’s neither here nor there; not what I’m trying to get at here.

Aside from all those around the world who died with the coronavirus, the Pandemic itself was one of the most divisive events in all history, separating even the closest of friends and families. Many more people’s lives were ruined by the lockdowns and mandates; mental health problems skyrocketed, and many people’s businesses and livelihoods went under and have never recovered. I still have hope that one day there will be at least some accountability for all of it; the cost has been way too high to just “let it go.” I fully believe the LORD knows what happened and how it all started, and what it caused, and he will not be mocked. Less people are attending church now than at any other time in the history of this country; the forced isolation ruined the faith of so many, and I couldn’t imagine that sitting well with him.

The Coronavirus has more than a 99 percent survival rate. But there’s a much bigger pandemic that has been raging since the start of human history, and it has a zero percent survival rate: sin. Paul writes, “the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a).” All have sinned, and thus all have payment due. The good news is that Paul doesn’t end his remarks on sin there; he goes on to say, in the same verse, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” The LORD offers forgiveness and salvation through the great physician, the great healer. There’s no other cure for sin; you can’t just “ride it out (such as when you have a cold or the Flu or the stomach bug, or any other virus for that matter)” and become better by yourself.

It’s written of Jesus, “Surely, he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:4-5 KJV).”

In the first few verses of Luke 8, you can read a short account of Jesus healing a leper. In those days, leprosy was thought to be a curse from the LORD; those who had it were thought to be highly contagious and they had to wear a face covering (Leviticus 13:45).  The leper says to Jesus, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Then Jesus reaches out and touches the man and says, “I am willing, be clean!” And immediately the man was cleansed of his leprosy. Jesus could have just spoken the word, but he went a step further: he reached out and touched the man, which would have made him ceremonially unclean under the Law [of Moses] (Leviticus 5:3).

Jesus then enters Capernaum and a Centurion comes up to him, asking to help his servant who is at home paralyzed and suffering. Jesus asks if he can come and heal him, and the Centurion says, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Jesus then says he has not found such faith in all Israel, and to the Centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would!” For the Centurion, Jesus’ word was enough. We have [many of] Jesus’ words recorded for us!

The chapter ends with Jesus healing two demon-possessed men. In one of the more bizarre stories in Scripture, the demons are driven into a herd of swine who run violently down a cliff and into the sea. This time, the people plead with Jesus to leave.

Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world: because there is sin, there is disease, unfairness, and violence. It’s not going to get better until Jesus returns to reign as King over all the earth (Zechariah 14:9). In that new heaven and earth that the LORD will create (Isaiah 65:17-23), people will live much longer and happier, healthier lives; even someone who dies at age 100 will only be considered a child. There will be no more Pandemics, no more crazy government overreach (and instead righteous rulership); it will be a wonderful time on earth for all who turn to the LORD.

God said to Israel at Marah, “If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”

Come unto him—Jesus—all ye that labor and are heavy-laden; and he will give you rest. Take his yoke upon you, and learn of him; for he is meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For his yoke is easy, his burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

Joy and gladness,


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