April 6, 2020

Tunnel Time

In my childhood I enjoyed making play tunnels. They were usually constructed out of big empty boxes carefully arranged, or sometimes chairs were lined up and draped with blankets. The longer and darker we could make our tunnel, the more fun it was. And if we could make it narrower and more challenging to crawl through, it was even better.

Right now, we find ourselves traversing a long, dark tunnel called the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s anything but fun. How long does this tunnel stretch? We don't know yet. To some degree, our collective efforts may help. Every person’s contribution matters, not just in shortening the tunnel’s span but in dispelling the awful darkness of dread and despair that goes with it. As Adventists, we can play a part in this regard—to shine some light into this darkness.

The whole world is facing this together, so let’s shine a light focusing not just on the corporate aspects of the crisis but on its effect on us as individuals. It’s possible for us to come out of this tough passageway a different person from before. We may emerge from this tunnel closer to the Lord than we have ever been, having claimed Philippians 4:19 to trust God completely for every need. We may finally internalize what the text “Christ is all and in all” from Colossians 3:111 really means. Hopefully, stern lessons of self-denial and self-sacrifice will have been taken to heart, as we’ve tried to help others survive, instead of just striving to preserve our own comfort and convenience.

On the flip side, what if we came through this ordeal alarmingly more settled in our Laodicean condition: lukewarm, complacent, and self-deceived? To become ill with COVID-19 would clearly be horrific. But to end up more enchanted with worldly things, more fascinated by the charms of self-centeredness, and more comfortable with a superficial connection with heaven would be worse, especially in the context of eternity. 

To come out on the right side of heaven, we can start by following Paul’s admonition in

2 Corinthians 13:5, to “examine yourselves.” 

Here are a few questions we can ponder: 

1.  What have my coping strategies been during this stressful time? Am I numbing my fears and anxieties with entertainment? Or have I been earnestly seeking God and discovering that “the moment of greatest discouragement is the time when divine help is nearest”?2

2.  Am I mourning a blow to my finances more than the loss of much more important things such as human lives? Or am I finding ways to reach lives for Jesus within our imposed quarantine?

3.  Have I been taking advantage of this time to “be still, and know” that God is who He says He is (Ps. 46:10)? Or have I been too caught up in panic to calm myself before Him?

If there are some areas we can improve in, all is not lost. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can still choose to make decided and positive changes. We can’t possibly understand the ways of God. But perhaps in the difficulty of these days, God is calling us to Himself and giving us valuable “tunnel time” to spend in closer communion with Him. If so, let’s not let it go to waste.

Sharlene Reyes writes from Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines.

1 All Bible texts are from the New King James Version. Copyright ã 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

2 Ellen G. White, Sons and Daughters of God (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1955), p. 92.