The ABC Television series “The Good Doctor” took an intriguing approach to weaving the pandemic into a hospital drama. The new season opened with a two-parter that looked back on how the fictional staff at the real St. Bonaventure Hospital in San Jose, California dealt with the early weeks and month of the pandemic. It was clearly intended to honor hospital and other frontline workers for their efforts during the outbreak. From there, the producers used a device that might be without precedent in series television. To open episode three, the star of the show Freddie Highmore addressed the audience in a short pre-recorded statement:
“The following episode portrays our hope for the future. A future where no one will have to wear masks or take other steps to stay safe from COVID. Until then, please protect yourself and others.”
From there, the episode looked like any other. No masks, no COVID patients, no talk of COVID-19. It’s an imagineered future where the pandemic is so far behind us that we don’t talk about it anymore. I’m guessing this will allow the series to continue to have the same feel our pre-COVID world did. When you think of it, that’s what we’re all hoping for.
We want to be able to hug friends, to have huge Thanksgiving gatherings, to join 80,000 of our closest friends at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoons. But we can’t create it in our lives the way a TV show can. Highmore put it exactly right: it is “our hope for the future.” TV writers can’t control the universe in which we live. That’s up to God:
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is one of the best-known passages in the Old Testament, thanks in large part to “Turn, Turn, Turn” a 1960’s folk tune by the Byrds that worked the verses into the lyrics. But the author’s (believed by many scholars to be Solomon) meaning is often misconstrued. All the seasons mentioned in the verses happen in God’s time, not ours. These are the seasons we experience, but God controls them.
Verse two captures the essence of our time on earth. We are born. God decides when. We die. God decides when. In between, we go through seasons of life. God decides what they are and how long they will last. We are in control of nothing. Not even the things that we are supremely confident we control.
Satan is using the pandemic to maximum effectiveness right now. America is more divided in every possible way than it has ever been. We all want to rewrite the script, just as “The Good Doctor” writers did and be living instantly in a post-COVID world that looks just like the pre-COVID world. But it’s God’s call. Politicians and political parties and programs and policies have their place. But this will take as long as God ordains it to for His purposes. There is no skipping to the end. God doesn’t like watching us suffer. He has a purpose to each season. Verses 9-14 of Ecclesiastes 3 are lesser-known, but this is an excellent time to study them:
What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him. Ecclesiastes 3:9-14 (NIV)
God makes everything beautiful in His time. There is nothing better than to be happy and do good while we live. Regardless of the circumstances. God wants us to enjoy the simple pleasures with which he has blessed us. Even in times of trial: …giving thanks to God the Father always, for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:20).
COVID passed through God’s hand before it reached us. Be watchful for opportunities God is giving you during this time of trial to be used by Him to bring Glory to His Kingdom and to increase It. God doesn’t waste any season. And neither should we.
This post is republished with permission from Oakbrook Church, De Pere WI.