How Hope Can Carry Us Through This Pandemic

by | Jun 1, 2020

It’s been 9 weeks since we’ve been in lockdown in London and there are now talks of a lockdown being eased. My prevailing feelings of boredom, memories of the unfettered ways I could be enjoying my day is bubbling to a strong, heightened sense of longing. I most look forward to alfresco dining amidst the emerging summer breeze in the warm company of family & friends.

This is my Hope, a return to all the things I once found simple pleasure in.

Hope Has A Purpose

It seems that hope has a purpose, it reframes our present. Hope is a feeling of expectation that something good will happen. Because the current pandemic causes us to press pause on the present, it focuses our attention on the future. It’s our envisioned future that helps us get through the now and suggests there’s something about our present that we are discontent with while we wait for what we want.

God created us as embodied social human beings who thrive off the energy of others, isolation has severely curtailed that for me. I miss the urban life and the kinetic buzz garnered from being in a room packed full of people. I miss the spontaneous vis-à-vis conversations, banter about everything from the frivolous to the deep. Yes, these still take place on zoom but it’s simply not the same as being in the same room as someone else. The fact is, we are humans that never stop longing for something, lockdown or no lockdown – our ever-evolving desires will never fade away. The pandemic has served to draw us back towards our basic human instinct – to survive and avoid catching CO-VID 19.

Perhaps the collective feeling that we are all in this together, is for many, a welcomed respite from FOMO – when we are all sanctioned to our homes there is less to miss out on. Or perhaps we welcome the withdrawal from the individualistic daily hustle to be someone and “make our mark in the world”. Confined to our homes, stripped of the superfluous and focussed on the essential, there’s no need to distinguish ourselves, to draw attention and compare.

Our Shifting Desires

Our basic need becomes food, water and shelter – the first few weeks has shown how quickly our human instinct kicks in when an unannounced deadly virus arrives on the scene. But as we are now experiencing, when the viral pandemic becomes more controlled and risks minimised – we start to turn our attention elsewhere. According to “Maslow Hierarchy of Needs”, secured of our basic needs – our new baseline for survival becomes the next rung; we look to get back on the dating scene; to find the partner of our dreams; we seek out our next career manoeuvre; we aim for 200 more followers on Instagram. Our moving goal post shows we are hope-based humans.

We are continually moving along a spectrum of desires – an excellent education, a flourishing career, the perfect spouse, a granite kitchen top in our Pinterest home, well-behaved children. As the cyclical pattern begins again – we want the same for our children. We have endless desires that realistically won’t be fully met in our lifetime. None of these things are wrong, we were created with an impetus to build families, homes and careers. This pandemic is frustrating because it has become a glaring obstacle, an invasion of our plans.

We are fundamentally creatures with intrinsic desires that propel us to the next thing. Most of us are already daydreaming about what post-lockdown life will look like. But the landscape will not look the same for everyone. Economically, businesses unable to remain financially viable will perish and jobs will go. Until we find a vaccine, people will face severe health challenges and we will lose loved ones. Lockdown may have perhaps spurred you to re-evaluate your direction and question whether you’re building the right career or are in the right relationship.

An Imperfect World

Sooner or later, we face a time when our dreams don’t feel like they are coming to fruition, we face disappointment from our relationships, work and health. Disappointments are a direct confrontation of our broken world as we try to reconcile our ever-increasing hopes and desire versus the limitation of an imperfect word. This doesn’t mean we should give up, our desires reveal to us a greater vision of the good life, as CS Lewis summarise so well:

 “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: we, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” [1]

 We sense something other-worldly because we were wired by our maker to want to live forever. He has placed “eternity in the hearts of men so that we will seek him” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). On a conscious or subconscious level, we desire to be eternal – to make our mark in the world after we’re gone by chasing after things through recognition. Think about it, every endeavour we chase is a pursuit to be remembered forever, we try to do this by living on through our family or through our work. We’re summoned to do this because we think there is one life, as the current truism goes; we are implored to “to live our best life” now.

God Placed Eternity In Our Hearts

As the past few weeks have shown us, death doesn’t discriminate – rich or poor, famous or not – we are all subject to death. When the late Apple founder Steve Jobs faced mortality, he was able to distil this gnawing feeling we have to “be eternal”:

 “It’s strange to think that you accumulate all this experience, and maybe a little wisdom, and it just goes away. So I really want to believe that something survives, that maybe your consciousness endures.” [2]

Jobs understood something about the coldness of death. Former first lady, Michelle Obama describes the sudden death of a close friend in a similar way, she says how death was “perverse, how the world just carried on”[3]. I believe Michelle Obama is spot on: death is perverse and unnatural, deep down we want to believe that we’re not some stat on a bell curve; that death is not an on-off switch and we’re gone.

Death is unnatural because God created us for something more. God has placed eternity in our hearts because an eternity exists. Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25).

Our Hope is not wishful thinking but a confident assurance in the only person in history to have raised himself from the dead, the only one that holds the keys to death and can give us true eternity.

[1] Mere Christianity by CS Lewis

[2] Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

[3] Becoming by Michelle Obama

Written by Ann Ajet

Ann lives in London. She is a major foodie and can often be found in street food markets with her husband and daughter. Ann writes about the intersection between culture and faith.

 

 

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