We are nearly to the end of another 40 Days and 40 Nights…from my own timeline, today marks Day 76 since the World Health Organization declared a pandemic and as I wrote a while ago, biblically, 40 days means a “long, long” time. And now here we are almost through a second “long, long” time. Perhaps you’re restless and impatient…especially with summer now officially upon us. So much has been canceled: music festivals, the state fair, youth sports and camps…everywhere we look, nothing is the same. We want to get back “out there”…we want things to be “normal again”…we want to gather again for picnics, July 4th, parades, and for so many of us worship face to face and in person.
This makes me think of the story of Noah and the flood. I imagine that Noah and his family wanted to get off that ark as well. We often think of the rain for 40 days and 40 nights, but miss how long the wait was to get off the ark. When we read the account in Genesis 7 and 8, not only did the flood continue for 40 days but the “waters swelled on the earth for one hundred fifty days” (Genesis 7:24).
“Then God remembered Noah, his family and all of the animals, the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, and the waters gradually receded from the earth. At the end of one hundred fifty days the waters had abated; and in the seventh month, the ark came to rest on the mountains Ararat. The waters continued to abate until the tenth month and in the tenth month, the tops of the mountains appeared.” (Genesis 8:1-5)
Are you keeping count? 40 days of rain, 150 days of water swelling on the earth, another 150 days of water abating and 3 months (90 days) after that, the tops of the mountains appeared. And then there was another 40 days before Noah opened the window of the ark to send out a raven…then more waiting and a dove was sent out. That dove returned with a freshly plucked olive leaf (verse 10) and then another wait of 7 days and the dove sent out…this time, it did not return.
This pandemic is a long process, dear friends. Just because the restrictions are loosening a bit does not mean that the virus is gone. We are not yet on that dry land. We are still in the 150 days of water swelling on the earth. If we try to return to what had been normal, it will be like jumping out of that ark into the water. We need to wait and heed the signs we are being given, just as Noah watched for the signs that it was safe to leave the ark.
Even more important than the passage of time is this from Genesis 8:1 “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and all the domestic animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.” God remembers ALL of us during this time and God will breathe on all of us, assuring us of God’s presence and action to protect, save and bless us through these stressful and demanding times. Be patient, friends. Watch for the signs. Pray for strength and compassion to endure. God remembers us.
Peace to all of you. Be well. Stay safe,