We snapped this pic a year ago – or was it a lifetime? A night of flinging paint at a friend’s birthday
party flickers in my mind as one of the last fun things we did before the world went sideways.
Memories of that time gleam vibrant as the colors splattered across my body. Back then, life was brighter, happier, less unprecedented. Pandemic was a board game we played, not a reality we lived. Reports of outbreaks belonged in history books and B-grade sci-fis. A slight cough didn’t send us into a feverish panic.
Before, we didn’t see people as contagion spreaders or gatherings as death traps. We went to school and work away from home, brushing shoulders like normal human beings who interact in the flesh. We talked over coffee instead of glitchy squares. We hugged loved ones without asking for permission.
Before was better.
I miss before.
Mourning before is justified. In the past year, people died. Businesses crashed. Plans imploded. Loneliness skyrocketed.
But stubborn wistfulness can stir in us a longing for something that was never there.
Before, life wasn’t perfect. Disappointment still disrupted. Uncertainty still lurked.
Like the Israelites fresh off their deliverance from Egypt, we can’t grumble over yesterday’s make-believe feasts.
As God fed us the bread of adversity throughout 2020, he also drizzled daily mercies.
In the lament for what was, we can celebrate the truth that is and always will be true:
The Lord provides. He cares. He doesn’t open the door to suffering without supplying a way through it.
Before might seem shiny and precious, but it can’t compare to the radiance of our future in Christ.
The woman in this picture couldn’t foresee the trouble ahead. Now, she can look back with both sadness and gratitude, tears tinged with hope.
Published February 22, 2020