It’s surreal walking into a grocery store – one of the few places I walk into these days – and observe everyone covering their mouths and noses with a mask. I don’t find it odd anymore. Masks are necessary, but they are also hot, uncomfortable, and they make it difficult to recognize people, interpret facial expressions and communicate.
In a culture awash with talk, words, opinions, social media and more talk, I’m starting to see masks as helpful symbols of appropriate silence.
Covid-19 presented us with an unwelcome opportunity to reorient our lives to what is ultimately important and, since no one knew anything about this virus, to seek God’s wisdom. On top of that, George Floyd’s death, and far too many others, have caused us to take a hard look at implicit bias and structural racism in ourselves and, for Christians, in the church.
Society is now faced with important questions. How should schools begin teaching next month? What can be done about structural racism? When will a vaccine be ready? What is the role of the church in dealing with racism? How will people survive without jobs if Covid keeps the economy shut down? Have we confronted our materialism? This is a lot to process, and the answers are anything but clear.
Of course, these questions have become politicized and the thundering thoughts of opinion makers tend to distract us from the real issues. In my opinion, public health, materialism and racism are just a few of the problems that have been magnified in recent months, and if we get over involved with politics we will become outraged, take sides, and forget about what God is giving us an opportunity to see.
This is a time to lift our confused masked faces up to heaven and ask the Lord to open our eyes and ears to what is really happening.
It is a time to be silent.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak... Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7
Our world has been torn apart by materialism and racism, we are concerned about our health and the economic impact of the virus, and our nation in particular is suffering from angry, sometimes violent, disunity. I can’t shake the thought that God is offering us a physical example – worldwide masked faces – of how to approach him during times of great difficulty.
Turn your face to Him. Be silent. Read his Word. Listen to him. Seek him. Trust him. He is the only one who knows how to mend what we have torn.
The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. Habakkuk 2:20