In our new coronavirus world, being together has become a rare and
treasured experience. As the “invisible enemy” named COVID-19
continues its relentless march around our world, we remain apart to curb
its spread. “Social distancing” has become a strange, new norm.
I realized recently that there’s a major difference between being distant from each other and being absent. Distance keeps
us from touching one another, from meeting together. But being distant
doesn’t mean we can’t talk to each other or see one another.
Thanks to technology, we can do both. We may be distant, but
we’re staying connected. That’s not nearly as severe
as being absent. Absence suggests being alone, isolated,
displaced, lonely . . . even lost.
reminds me of a man I read about who went swimming in a large lake around
dusk. While paddling leisurely about 100 yards offshore, a freak fog rolled
in. Suddenly, he could see nothing. No horizon, no familiar landmarks, no
lights or people on the shore. Since the fog diffused all light, he
couldn’t even determine the direction of the setting sun. For about
30 minutes, he splashed around as panic took hold.
He would start off in one direction, lose confidence, and then jerk 90
degrees to his right or left. He felt his heart racing, beating fast in his
throat, before he would blindly strike out again. Others weren’t just distant from him—they were absent. He felt totally
LOST. At last, he heard a faint voice calling from shore. He pointed his
body toward the sound and swam to safety.
Perhaps in these weeks of enforced isolation you’ve started to feel a
sensation of utter lostness, a growing sense of loneliness and
displacement. You may be closer to panic than you’ve ever been as the
fog of an uncertain future rolls in on you. In unguarded moments, you may
have entertained an alien thought you’ve never pondered before:
Where is God?
A similar spirit of fear, sadness, and panic must have gripped Jesus’
disciples when they met together the night before the crucifixion. To their
shocking dismay, the Master told them He would soon suffer and die. He
would leave them.
Talk about disillusioned! They had anticipated Jesus’ reigning as
King and their sitting alongside Him. But that was not to be! Instead, He
would be crucified as the sacrificial Lamb. Later, He said, He would return
and reign as King, but He gave them no clue about when that would happen.
All they could hear was the terrible news: He would suffer and die and
The disciples felt like many of us feel today: confused and frightened.
Jesus looked into their fearful eyes and quietly reassured them:
“‘Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and
trust also in me’” (John 14:1).
Everything was under God’s control, Jesus promised. His plan could
not be shaken or altered. He told them essentially, “Trust Me and
don’t be afraid. I’m leaving—but I will return! In the
meantime, we’ll stay in touch. You’ll pray . . . and I’ll
answer. No matter how difficult things become, I’ll be in full
control. You know where I’m going, and you know how to get
Thomas wasn’t so sure: “‘We have no idea where you are
going, so how can we know the way?’” (14:5).
You likely know Jesus’ reply by heart: “‘I am the way,
the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through
It was a magnificent moment! The disciples sat transfixed, when just
moments earlier, they were restless, struggling, filled with questions. Are
you feeling that way these days? Are you filled with questions:
How much worse will this virus get? Can I make it without getting
infected . . . can my family? Will we have enough money and food and
other essentials to get by? When will all of this end?
Take Jesus’ words personally: “Don’t let YOUR heart be
troubled.” Imagine Him saying to you: “Do you know the way to
Me? COME TO ME! Are you seeking the truth about Me? SEEK ME! Is your life
lacking security—are you feeling lost and abandoned? TRUST ME!”
The Lord is with you and with me as we journey through this dark
coronavirus valley. He is not distant . . . and He is never