My wife and I are longtime Garth Brooks fans. We’ve watched his mammoth television concerts in packed stadiums over the years. Last night, however, we saw him perform in a completely different way.
Brooks and his very talented wife, Trisha Yearwood, sang songs by request for an hour in a small studio accompanied only by his guitar. All proceeds benefited healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
Actor John Krasinski made news this week in a similar way, hosting a very funny new YouTube show called Some Good News. His daughters made the logo. He recorded the show while sitting behind a desk at home. Steve Carell was one of his guests; he did the segment from his home as well.
Here’s another sign of the times: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will reportedly stage a rematch of their winner-take-all, $9 million duel held in November 2018. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will apparently play with them. Spectators will not be allowed, however, and all proceeds will benefit charities associated with coronavirus relief.
Learning from Anne Frank
People are doing what they can to respond to what the United Nations chief calls “the greatest test that we have faced together” since World War II. COVID-19 is now the No. 3 cause of death in the US. In two weeks, its daily death toll could double to become our nation’s No. 1 killer, eclipsing heart disease.
Trials are now underway for a vaccine that would be the “ultimate game changer,” as White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday. Scientists in Australia have begun testing potential vaccines as well.
In the meantime, the most important way you and I can respond to this crisis is to practice the social and physical distancing that is crucial to slowing the spread of the disease. As one study shows, with normal behavior a single infected person will infect 406 people over thirty days. With 50 percent less contact, that person will infect 15 people over thirty days. With 75 percent less contact, that person will infect 2.5 people over thirty days.
A friend reminded me recently that Anne Frank and seven other people hid in a 450-square-foot attic for 761 days, trying to remain undiscovered by the Nazis to stay alive. We can all do what we can do to keep everyone safe through social distancing.
As I wrote earlier today in “Choosing between what we want to do and what we should do,” this is the only way short of medical interventions to slow this pandemic. However, as Aristotle noted, “Man is by nature a social animal.” Social distancing is not only incredibly disruptive to our economy; it is also extremely difficult for us psychologically and relationally.
That’s why, as I noted in this morning’s Daily Article on “Finding meaning in crisis through solitude with God,” we urgently need to seek God’s “face” today. The more we are isolated from others, the more we need to deepen our intimacy with our Father.
A carpenter must touch the wood he intends to shape
In these afternoon Special Editions, we are focusing on ways to fight fear with faith. Fear of isolation is a very real thing. The internet is filled with advice from those who have been there, including lessons from astronauts, tips from polar explorers, and advice from scientists who have spent months in isolation.
I would add this suggestion: Christians can reframe solitude from a relational challenge to a spiritual opportunity.
As I noted recently, spiritual solitude is an ancient but empowering discipline. When we take time to speak to God and to listen to him, our lives are changed in profound ways. A carpenter must touch the wood he intends to shape; a painter must connect her brush with the canvas. When we are alone with our Father, his Spirit makes us more like his Son (Romans 8:29). This personal connection is indispensable to spiritual growth.
If Jesus needed to begin the day by seeking his Father’s face, so do we (Mark 1:35). If he needed to get alone with the Lord before making major decisions, so do we (Luke 6:12–13). If he needed to pray in crisis, so do we (Matthew 26:36–46).
“To be a child simply enjoyed by the Father?”
In his First15 devotional, Craig Denison wrote recently: “If you want to hear God, you must practice solitude. If you want fortitude in your life, a steadfastness that surpasses your circumstances, you must practice solitude. You are designed for time spent in the quiet, simply being with your heavenly Father.”
He adds: “Once you connect with God’s heart free of words and just look at him face to face, his gaze will become one of the most important parts of your life. Knowing experientially that your heavenly Father sees you and loves you is meant to be at the foundation of everything you do.”
As a result, Craig encourages us to “commit yourself to spend time in solitude with God and learn what it is to be a child simply enjoyed by the Father.”
When last did you experience the joy of solitude with your Father?
When will you today?