“Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:5
Sometimes life takes unexpected turns. When things don’t go as planned we often assume it will be bad. What much of the world is currently experiencing undoubtedly has a lot of bad about it. There are also many good things happening if we choose to look for them. Even a bad situation when people are dying can have a good side if people work on caring for each other and serving the Lord. People in many parts of the world are looking out for each other and trying to help in new ways. Many people are slowing down and focusing more on what is really important.
We have an opportunity to turn this global disaster into an opportunity for greater good. “Ye thought evil against me, God thought it for good, in order to do as it is this day, to make alive a great people” (Genesis 50:20). This wonderful quote from Joseph after being sold as a slave into Egypt reminds us that while the Lord does not cause sickness and that it only comes from hell, the Lord can bring something good out of it. The Lord only permits evils to happen that can in some way lead to salvation or the greater good, both for individuals and the human race as a whole. Pertaining to the Individual, the good we are talking about is eternal salvation (DP 249, 275). More generally, we can hope to see, salvation for more of the human race, and also a potential trend towards a better state for the human race. “Nothing is permitted [by the Lord’s Providence] except for the end that some good may come out of it” (AC 6489). This is not a guarantee that good will always result from evil in every situation, at least not in the short term. We are always free to turn evil into more evil if that is our choice. However, we also are free to turn from evil and find the good. The Lord is always making things new and giving us new opportunities or chances to make a new beginning. Regeneration is being re-born; this is not an instantaneous or one time change, but an ongoing process of being made new by the Lord. So we find ourselves in this strange situation where many things are so out of the ordinary. I don’t think many of us could have expected a situation like this where we are separated from loved ones and can’t even attend church. Despite this physical separation including the bodily separation of those taken to the other world, we are seeing at least some people focus on connecting any way they can, and really making the most of this opportunity to reach out to each other and the Lord. Still, it is one thing to be able to prioritize our spiritual lives when we don’t have much else we can focus on, and another to still care when life goes back to normal.
The book Divine Providence tells that people are not reformed by crises like sickness, because it is an external situation restricting our freedom that eventually goes away. Real change has to come from a free choice. If we are not already making efforts at repentance and regeneration, we will go back to the same selfish and unreflective life we were leading once this pandemic is over. On the other hand, the Lord is always ready to help us start out on a new path if we want to make a change. Maybe this global lockdown has changed us, hopefully for the better, but those changes are not permanent unless we make them permanent afterlife goes back to normal. Stopping doing evil or being selfish because we have no alternative is not real repentance. Repentance means recognizing that we have done wrong, want to do better, and are willing to work at it. The Lord will always help us, but He won’t force us to stay on the path of regeneration. No one is reformed in a state of bodily disease, because the reason is then not in a free state, for the state of the mind depends upon the state of the body. When the body is sick, the mind also is sick, because of its separation from the world – if for no other reason. For a mind removed from the world thinks indeed concerning God, but not from God, for it does not have freedom of reason. Man has freedom of reason from this circumstance, that he is in the midst between heaven and the world and can think from heaven and the world, also from heaven about the world and from the world about heaven. When, therefore, a man is in sickness, and is thinking about death and the state of his soul after death, he is not then in the world but is withdrawn in spirit; and when in this state only, no one can be reformed; but he may be strengthened by this experience if he was reformed before he fell sick.