“How did we get here?” This is the first thought that comes to my mind when I think about our unimaginable present situation. I would never have guessed that I would be living in a time when a deadly virus would wreak havoc globally and disrupt our daily lives to the point of quarantines and lockdowns. Perhaps rather fittingly, this came around this time of Lent, a time when we are called to offer up our pain and suffering so as to prepare us for the glory that is to come.
As we go through this unprecedented time of Covid-19, I have come to see this as simultaneously embarking on a pilgrimage through a wholly different desert experience of Lent that I never thought possible.
We may be inclined to focus on the things that make Covid-19 a harsh desert – the desperation frontliners are facing; the growing hunger due to diminishing supplies of food, the creeping isolation that comes with being stuck in our homes. Taking this in a spiritual sense, we may start to see these aches as desperation to receive the Holy Eucharist; hunger to see and encounter Jesus deeply in the blessed sacrament; isolation that stems from a diminishing community life. All these things come together and pull us down to a point of misery and cause us to forget to find meaning behind all this.
However, if there is one thing that I learned in my life as a missionary, it is that our story is not over till God is victorious. We only need to keep still, and the Lord will win our battles (Ex 14:14). It is with seeing through this lens that I begin reflecting on my personal journey through the desert.
Despite all the hardship the current times bring, I hear God’s message ring very clearly. The question of “how did we get here?” does not really matter anymore; it is now a question of “what is the Lord teaching me and asking of me?” In this present situation, I feel God continuously reminding me that this time in the desert is only temporary, and the calling now is to allow God to surprise you with how he will turn this around.
The song Burn for You sums up the state of my heart quite well: “Oh Lord, in this season of waiting, let my heart burn only for you.” Thus, I wait patiently. I wait, knowing that our time in the desert is a time for us to reflect on our relationship with God. I wait, knowing that the Lord is fighting our battles for us. I wait, having a certain hope that at the end of the day, God was there.
Paolo Magtibay was a Mission Volunteer of MFC Youth who served in the Luzon Missions Team.