Updated: Apr 4, 2020
When things started to get cancelled due to COVID-19, people said, "strange times..." When the shelves and freezers at the shops were empty, people said "strange times..." When we started keeping a two-metre distance from everyone, people said "strange times..." When we first started meeting online, people said, "strange times..." I even heard people muttering to themselves as they walk about unusually empty spaces, saying, "strange times..." Perhaps people are saying this as a reassurance that life is not normal right now, but it's only temporary. They are looking back at a time before COVID-19 when these things were unimaginably absurd. They are looking forward to the time when this pandemic will pass, and normal life will resume.
I was thinking about how this saying, "strange times..." is an excellent analogy of for how Christians should feel about our whole earthly life (with or without COVID-19). Death, sorrow, sickness, conflict, disaster, injustice are not normal. Our whole world has been dwelling in "strange times" ever since The Fall, when sin first entered the world through Adam in Genesis 3. Most people don't realise this because they are blind to what came before and what comes after life as we know it now. But as Christians, we have the advantage of God's revelation in the Bible which shows us that before The Fall, there were perfect relationships between people and creation, between one person and another, and most importantly between people and God. That's what normal life should be like. As Christians, we also have the advantage of God's revelation about the future, that one day God will wipe away every tear; there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away and God will make all things new (Revelation 21:4-5). That's what it will look like to return to normal life. Deep down inside every human heart cries out for this normal that we've never experienced because we were born straight into the period of "strange times". These are "strange times" where we can't help our urge to rebel against God and his righteous rules. Some have tried to cope with this by classifying our sinful desires as "normal", but their perspective is too narrow. They fail to see that we don't have to settle for this broken world and just make the most of what we have, there is a greater hope beyond human control in God's plan for restoration.
That said, when God restores the true order and makes all things new, he must judge sin and eradicated it before life, as it should be, can be restored. But if we are sinful, how then can we escape God's judgement and be part of the restored and eternal life? By our own efforts we can't, but thanks be to God that Jesus died to take our sin away and if you take hold of this salvation by trusting Jesus, you will be united with him in resurrection life too. If you trust in Jesus in this way, you can then truly say with Paul, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:17) or in other words, we can say "strange times..." as a reassurance that life is not normal right now, but it's only temporary.
When Christians face suffering, disaster and persecution in this life, we should say "strange times..." knowing that this was not the way God designed creation to be originally. We should say "strange times..." not just looking forward to "life after COVID-19" but looking forward to life after sin.