By Geneva Wright
It was around mid-January of 2020, back before my kitchen table became my full-time workspace. I was working at a real desk in my office, where the nonprofit organization that I work for coordinates a big annual conference in Poland. My co-worker stopped by to chat and mentioned that one of our regular volunteers, an elderly man from Arizona, was on the fence about volunteering again.
“He’s worried about that virus people are talking about,” she said. “He wants to know what the likelihood is that the conference will be canceled because of it.”
I burst out laughing.
“He’s just being paranoid!” I scoffed. “There are barely even any cases in Europe. Does he think our whole conference is going to get canceled just for that?”
Well, that’s egg on my face.
Although the conference ultimately wasn’t canceled, barely two months later it would be re-formed as a virtual event in the midst of global upheaval. My co-workers and I brought our computers home, thinking we would need to work remotely for a few weeks. Twelve months later, we still haven’t returned.
As we remember the good things about the world that existed pre-pandemic—the world that all of us hope soon to return to—I have been finding it helpful to also look back on some of the sinful assumptions and areas of ignorance that this year has forced me to confront. James 4:13-16 reads:
Pre-pandemic Geneva believed there was no way a global pandemic could shut down most of the world for the better part of a year. But more broadly, she thought she knew something about what was or wasn’t possible. She arrogantly—albeit unconsciously—assumed that control lay in the hands of someone other than God. Now, she thinks of the future with a little more humility.
The Lord works in surprising ways, and as He sanctifies us, He sometimes uses extraordinary circumstances to purge us of sins we didn’t know were there, tearing them off of us like Aslan tearing off Eustace Scrubb’s dragon skin in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. This is grace: in the midst of suffering and trauma, He is still working to reconcile us to Him. He opens our eyes when they might otherwise have remained shut.
As I look back to the beginning of March 2020, I remember a world that was largely sunnier, blissfully unaware of the pain and grief and conflict that lay ahead. But I also remember the sins, arrogance, and ignorance that the Lord would soon tear away from me—layers of my own dragon skin. I remember the ways in which, by God’s intervention, who I was differs from who I am today. And I thank Him for those changes.