Rethinking ‘canceled’ in an age of coronavirus

We always feel like we have nothing to show after a kidney stone incident. Instead, we have a week of missed opportunities, regrets, and cancellations. But it strikes me that perhaps we aren’t measuring productivity the same way God does. We often emerge from these episodes with compassion for others, new insights, fresh perspectives on suffering, and a reordering of our own priorities.

This is a different kind of productivity.

With the emergence of the COVID-19, people worldwide are experiencing these same feelings. You may have had meetings, trips, and large events canceled. You may be dealing with the uncertainty of how and when things will go back to normal. Even if you and your loved ones are fortunate to not fall ill or to face serious economic repercussions from the response to the virus, the disappointment of these missed opportunities is real.

But what if we reframed the word canceled? In mathematics, an equation is balanced when one side “cancels out” the other side. We are being forced to slow down, and this slowing could help us “cancel out” some of the effects of our normally busy lives. What canceling out have you been in desperate need of?

One of our workers has struggled with asthma attacks for the past few months. When schools in her area closed, she wrote, “Honestly, a few weeks downtime is a gift after an intense period of ministry, so I’ll take it gratefully. My lungs have not been functioning well for three months. A respiratory infection is the last thing I need and could potentially land me in hospital. So I’m settling down to rest and stay at home as much as possible.”

We must remember that God is still working during all these cancellations. During seasons of transition, God often does a deeper work in us so he can do a bigger work later on. We don’t become better people in haste—in fact, I’m not sure we do anything better when we are in a hurry.

If you’re forced to slow down because of COVID-19, here are a few ideas for using the time to serve others and to grow deeper with God:

    • Take one of your canceled events and replace it with a Day Alone with God.
    • If you’re healthy, consider how you can serve people at higher health risk—perhaps by delivering groceries to front porches or by wiping down frequently touched surfaces if your church is still meeting.
    • Read deeply about a topic that has interested you recently. Check out the SEND U blog for recent book reviews on things like Discipling in a Multicultural World.
    • Reach out through phone calls (or the online equivalents) to those who are self-quarantining.
    • If you live overseas, observe how your host culture is responding to COVID-19. What insights does this give you into their cultural beliefs and practices? How are they different from yours? (If you live in your passport country, you can ask yourself similar questions about your own community!) This article courtesy of SEND International

SEND is a global movement of Jesus followers making disciples among the unreached. Our 500+ missionaries serve in 20+ countries of Asia, Eurasia, Europe, and North America. They live among the people they serve, evangelizing the lost, nurturing disciples, developing leaders, and starting churches. SEND International was started as Far Eastern Gospel Crusade (FEGC) shortly after World War II by a group of young soldiers who had been involved in gospel meetings in Asia. The mission expanded as new opportunities opened around the world. Our mission is to mobilize God’s people and engage the unreached in order to establish reproducing churches. Learn more about Send and how you can support their work here.

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