This is such a strange time. People socially-distanced by the quarantine; the temporary economic collapse; sickness and the corresponding deaths escalating; inadequate equipment, supplies, and PPE; health care professionals working to exhaustion; and vulnerable ICU patients dying alone, separated from their loved ones.
Coupled with news sources spinning their reports, folks registering their angst ad nauseum, and politicians manipulating statistics to further polarize us, it’s no wonder we’re battling fear, depression, and grief.
As we endure through COVID-19, you’ve likely heard some optimistic soul share this encouraging word of reassurance: “This too shall pass.”
Typically, the one speaking will cop a humble, pious expression, while also hoping we’ll acknowledge their positivity, vision and application of scripture. Their counsel is good, and genuinely is a perspective we all need to consider. Some day this pandemic will be over.
Although “this too shall pass” is a very comforting sentiment, did you know it actually isn’t from the Bible? The principle conveyed is “scriptural” in precept, but the wording cannot be found in the canon of scripture. Which begs the question, where did the idiom come from?
Nobody knows for sure, but according to Wikipedia, it is fabled to have come from an Eastern sage instructed by his sultan to inscribe a sentiment on a ring which succinctly describes the state of perpetual change in human affairs, and he engraved: “And this, too, shall pass away.”
Other sources have the same story, but credit it to Israel’s King Solomon. Originally this saying may have leaned towards pessimism, noting that for all one’s hard work and accomplishments, these too one day will be gone.
I think people like to encourage others through tough times, offering the sense that our difficulties are temporary and will eventually be over. It’s similar to saying “tomorrow is a new day”, “give it time and things will work out”, or singing “the sun will come out … tomorrow”.
Let me share a scripture for your consideration in that same spirit, from 2 Corinthians 4:17-18:
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.”
One day, looking back, this pandemic and quarantine will be like a “light and momentary affliction” for us, and we will recognize God’s hand of blessing in it. God is escorting us through this tough season, and ultimately will redeem it in full for His glory and our good.
We may not see it with our eyes right now, but we will know it in our heart later.
So, let’s keep reminding ourselves that the pandemic won’t last forever. The quarantine will draw to a close. And whether we return to the old normal, or discover a refreshing new normal as anticipated, things will certainly be more normal soon.
God bless YOU!
Dave Hinman is Pastoral Elder at Dove Church Wilmington.