“Have you ever known anything like this COVID 19 pandemic?” Knowing that I have been around for a long time, people have often asked me this question. The only other event in my lifetime that impacted the entire world was World War II, and even that didn’t affect life at home as much as this pandemic has.
Certain events affect the culture in lasting ways. For example, during the Second World War, women entered the workforce in large numbers, and since then, this number has only increased. Another example is the counter culture of the 60s, which has had a lasting effect on sexuality ever since.
The point is this! In times like this, you don’t go back to normal. Life will in many ways, never be the same again.
Here are some of the ways things will be different:
COVID 19 forced students into online and distance learning. In America, we are going to have to rethink how to educate young people in the future. Do we still need the ‘ivory towers’ of colleges and universities when students can easily get a degree online?
This could mean a radical shift in how people study and learn. The younger generation that has grown up with computers will have fewer problems adjusting to this change than the older generation of teachers. There could also be a growth in homeschooling, as many families were forced into online learning in recent months. Note online learning is not homeschooling.
Education may never revert to being normal again.
Changes in the way we shop will continue. As one commentator put it, “The pandemic ensures the retail apocalypse will continue apace, with more brick and mortar stores closing. As more business shifts to home delivery, the joy of shopping in person may go the way of the phone booth. Some physical stores will still exist, of course. They’ll probably install thermal cameras to weed out sick customers” (newsmax.com).
But, shopping – normal shopping – as we once knew it is a thing of the past.
It will be interesting to see how all this works out. People love to eat, and they love to eat out, whether it be date night at a fancy restaurant or getting a quick meal at their favorite fast food place. But with social distancing, seating will have to change, and restaurants will struggle to survive. “Some planners envision temperature checks at the door and tables hidden inside cubicle style dividers” (newsmax.com).
Maybe these changes will encourage more family meals together at home.
Health care is also changing. Telemedicine is a new concept for medicine. In recent weeks, instead of having an appointment in the clinic, my wife Dorothy has had three different phone appointments with doctors. Doctor visits via video conferencing will inevitably become more common, as doctors can prescribe medicine via phone or video appointments. One problem will be how this all works out with health insurance.
For those of us who are older, we can remember changes that have already taken place. For example, when I grew up in Australia, our doctor, on occasion, would make home visits.
We need to realize that health care will not be the ‘normal’ that we have known in the past.
The way people communicate with each other has already been changing, with texting, instant messaging, and social media. Now with the rise of Zoom video calls and the like, changes will only increase. These changes, in turn, will affect how companies do business, such as reducing the need for travel. These changes will also affect the concept of attending conferences and large meetings. More and more, communication will be online driven.
So in both the personal and business world, we will not return to the normal of the past.
The impact on travel will be enormous. How do you fly in a plane and maintain social distancing? Or what about Uber or Lyft? It will be nearly impossible to keep social distancing in a vehicle. Airlines will face an unknown future, and so will car companies.
Perhaps more people will depend on their automobile more and more in the future when they travel. But travel will not be normal again.
COVID-19 has highlighted the different political positions in America. On the one hand, some on the left see this as an opportunity to bring more government control into people’s lives, with some form of progressive socialism. The Washington Post reported, “Many liberals see the response to the virus as a way to enact quicker versions of the broad social change at the heart of the Warren and Sanders campaigns”(washingtonpost.com)
It will be interesting to see how the campaigns for the Presidential election in November take place. It seems unlikely that there will be larger gatherings, and questions arise as to how to have the conventions during a time of pandemic.
During April and May, here in America, churches were required to cease meeting as a congregation. Most resorted to live streaming their services via such platforms as Facebook or youtube.
Those churches who already had their services online were able to adapt quickly to this change, but many churches were left playing catch up. It will be interesting to see how many people make online services their new church home. There will need to be a major rethink as to how the church should be organized in the future. I believe there are going to be some new creative responses to these present circumstances. Over recent decades there has evolved a variety of models to meet the challenge of the changing culture. It is time for this to happen again. The message doesn’t change, but the church needs to change to meet the challenges of a new era.
The church cannot return to what was normal in the past.
It is not all bad news, some changes are good. With the parents working at home and lockdown, families have spent more time together, even eating together more regularly. People have realized you can get by without daily doses of sports. It has caused people to think more seriously about life, what it is all about, how uncertain it all is, and their need for God. There have been reports of many people receiving Christ through via the internet. Greg Laurie from Harvest in California, states in April 2020, “In the past four weeks, we have seen over 21,000 people indicate their desire to put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. This is unprecedented” (Harvest.org).
What a challenging time we live in! It is almost like living in the midst of a war. For the Christian believer, there is the assurance that God is still on the throne. He is still in control. Change is here to stay, and the biggest changes are still likely ahead of us, leading up to the return of Christ. The Scriptures are being acted out before our very eyes.
Let us have confidence in the God that we serve, who is right in the middle of all that is happening, working His purposes out in our lives, until that day when there will be a new heaven and a new earth.
Come, Lord Jesus, come!