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As Gold Being Perfected in Fire: A Story About 2020

COVID, COVID, COVID, this word is so morbid… most of us are very tired of hearing it… and this is not unjustified. Over the past year and a half now we have seen so many people deal with clinical anxiety, depression and loneliness, without talking about the grief which we have all been dealing with. This may sound odd, you may tell me “that’s not true, there are lucky ones who didn’t see their loved ones dying” and in one sense you are right… but in another… you can’t be further from the truth. Everyone, yes, everyone, has been dealing with some sort of grief during this time. This may be grief of their work, Church, community, friends, or simply just that coffee shop that used to be the one thing that got them through the day. Those things may or may not have permanently ceased but they did at least temporarily… but when that time is undetermined, it surely feels like it’s everlasting.

We all had to completely change our way of life. We went from barely being home to barely being out and from barely having time to having too much time – even though sometimes it feels like we have none. Remember the beginning of this all? Most people were so happy! I remember looking at our emails frantically waiting for news from the university telling us that classes are no longer in-person; this feels like a lifetime ago…

That’s because during this time we have grown SO much. I would dare say more than ever in our lives. During the pandemic we were forced into the fiery furnace that perfects us, like gold under heat that is made perfect. We are, of course, very far from perfect, and it would take an incredibly long time to be even remotely close to perfection… but we are closer… not only as a society, a community, but also as individuals.

Before this pandemic, our eyes were so focused on external things, that we lost sight of the inner things which are from above. I cannot blame anyone for this as we didn’t have time to even feel like there was anything internal. We would typically wake up, eat breakfast while scrolling through social media, get ready (making sure our clothes would be of good effect on our reputation), go to university (or work), eat out, go to the library to study, and come home exhausted and sleep, only to wake up and do this all over again. This routine is not bad in itself, the foul in it is that it was enough for us, it seemed like as long as we were able to follow that routine, we were good to go, and that it was sufficient.

We fell into the trap of letting the outward dominate over the inward. However, when we were faced with a seemingly empty external life, we turned to our inner self. Many wondered, me being the first, if those things are so quickly gone, and if I’m alive and of value without them, it must mean that there is a much deeper meaning and purpose outside of that external life we were so used to. If not, then we were all reduced to nothingness, which, is clearly erroneous, unless you define yourself as “a robot of society” which… is a way of living… but a very sad one.

In a more specific way let’s take the example of clothing… we were no longer exposed to others and their opinions. For the first few weeks of quarantine most of us just didn’t change clothes – just wore PJs all day – some of us are still stuck in this stage unfortunately (I am guilty of that often) but we discovered that we shouldn’t dress up for anyone, but just for ourselves – to feel energized and confident – because usually what we do outwardly affects us internally. All that keeping in mind that this, wearing nice clothes that is, is solely done for our inner self, in a manner that edifies. This might seem like a very futile matter compared to the magnitude of what we were talking about. But the truth is, when you see a change in the smallest things, that’s when you know that the change encompassed our whole life, from the big scale of our purpose in life, to the tiniest scale of the clothes we wear.

Something that makes it a lot easier for me to understand the change that we experienced is the analogy of a camera. Let’s say we all have an HD camera, we always had it pointed outwards, and it was busy enough that we kept taking pictures of the outside and forgot that there was another view, the inside that is. One day, that outside suddenly became empty, there was nothing to capture… we kept trying endlessly to find something to capture but we couldn’t find anything… so we remembered the inside… and all of a sudden, we are exposed to this whole new world to capture! A world that we have overlooked for so long and one will truly last.

I don’t know about you, but I personally needed this wake-up call, and have already seen its effects on every aspect of my life. I also think that everyone needed it… because God will never make us go through such a tribulation without it being for our profit. You might say, what about the people that were already spiritual and that went to Church every week multiple times? In reality, we are all in need for improvement, all of us. Maybe those people were still caring about some things such as what people thought of them in Church, or how the deacon was saying a slightly wrong tune, or any small fox that can, with time, become a major sin.

This pandemic is a teacher to us all in an individual matter, so maybe we didn’t all learn the same things, but we definitely learned what we needed to – if we allowed it. I once heard a priest say that if today didn’t exist you wouldn’t be saved. This might be an exaggeration, but it holds a deep truth… that God is doing everything for us to be with Him, everything!

This pandemic is not a specific person or country’s fault, but a result of all of humanity’s sinful state. Every single one of us needed it because we stopped focusing on the things that actually matter, so God removed everything from the outside for us to look at the inside. We can say that this is a mini-Job (Ayoub) situation.

I don’t think that any fleshly thing will cease this pandemic but only a true change of heart. The truth is, God can eliminate all Sars-Cov-2 viruses this very second. But He is not. We will never know the exact reason but for now all we can do is take advantage of this fiery furnace and pray that God listens to our prayers and make this pandemic end because as we were promised “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1st Corinthians 10:13.

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