From Struggle, Even Stronger Faith

What a week, right? COVID-19 dominates the news and our lives in ways few of us could have imagined, and weeks have passed since the pandemic took hold with months to come. Yet this week stands out from the rest. It’s Holy Week, with both Passover and Easter falling on the calendar in close proximity. During this time of reflection, I’m seeing something extraordinary. It’s the extraordinary in the ordinary. And with this recognition, I also see an opportunity to emerge from this struggle with renewed faith and conviction.

In Texas where I live, as in many states, Passover and Easter are taking place under a stay-at-home mandate, which is far from ordinary since this is a time when families and religious communities typically gather in significant numbers. The extraordinary things, though, are the ordinary things I’m doing. I’m walking with my wife in the mornings and spending more time helping kids with homework in the evenings, which I haven’t done with this consistency in years. We’re eating dinners together—at home, instead of going out. We planned to bake bread over Easter weekend.  As a curiously extraordinary event, there was not a store within miles that had yeast. One of my daughters called around until she found a store restocking overnight, went there the next morning at 7:00 a.m. and returned with a single jar of ordinary Fleischmann yeast. This year, we will celebrate Easter and continue our family traditions, just in new ways.

Even in the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper—knowing they were in imminent danger—Jesus and the Disciples upheld ordinary, time-honored Passover traditions. They gathered and broke bread together. Then as the evening continued, Jesus revealed not just that one of them would betray him but also who it would be. And then what did they do? They sang. Because they were celebrating Passover—and that is the ordinary thing to do, even on an extraordinary Passover.

The story of deliverance is the story of humankind. Our greatest stories emerge from the struggles we endure, whether it’s the Exodus from Egypt in the Jewish faith or deliverance from sin in Christian traditions.

The 19th century Jewish sage Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav said, “The Exodus from Egypt occurs in every human being, in every era, in every year, and even in every day.”

My hope for Holy Week in this time of pandemic is we recognize the extraordinary in the ordinary, that we realize evening walks and bread baking are not just the stories we’ll remember and tell our kids and grandkids. More significantly, these ordinary acts represent hope and resilience during COVID-19, milestones on a journey of deliverance that will test our faith and ultimately make it stronger.