“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
As I have been sitting my house day in and day out, I have caught myself thinking that I wished this virus had never happened and everything would just go back to the way it was. When I read this quote from The Fellowship of the Ring, it hit me. Tolkien has great wisdom here. It is not for us to choose the times that we live in; we must choose what we do with the time given to us.
People of Courage, Agents of Grace
Without a doubt, this is a time for courage. Tolkien’s wisdom is that I need not to dwell in ‘what if’s’ but to live in the actual place and time where I find myself. And I find myself in the middle of a pandemic where the church is closed, the congregation can’t meet, where people are losing their jobs, people are getting sick, there is unrest in the world, and so on.
Tolkien reminds me that, while I can’t choose, I find my courage in realizing that God has called all of us to step out and minister in his name.
I resist easy answers to complex situations, but I do know that God wants us to be disciples: agents of grace to people in need, and people of hope in a time of struggle.
We Are Never Alone
The other wisdom Tolkien gives us is the realization that we are not alone in this task. First and foremost, we know that God is faithful. I know that God walks with us wherever we find ourselves. God is the source of all good things like courage, inner strength, love, compassion and goodness. We draw on those things to shape how we respond to suffering and fear. Secondly, we are all together as the church. Times like these remind us that we are not just random people who sing together and have coffee on Sundays, but that we are truly brothers and sisters in Christ. We can lean on each other and help each other. In fact, we need to.
I am grateful for all of you. Let us walk together the way of Christ.