Disasters As Accelerators: On Relationships and Resurrection Life

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Esther Perel, a therapist and author, in talking about the impact that this season of lockdown is having on couples and their relationships, notes that “some people might come out of this wanting to get married, while others will come out wanting a divorce or a breakup.” That observation may not surprise us as we’ve considered the way the CoronaVirus could potentially affect people in the world today, but the reason she gives for this impact is thought provoking: “disasters generally operate as an accelerator in a relationship.” https://www.thecut.com/2020/04/esther-perels-advice-for-couples-under-lockdown.html

Wow – “disasters generally operate as an accelerator in a relationship.” That’s certainly an important concept for couples to be aware of, but it also may apply to other relationship spheres, as well. For example, how will this event be an accelerator for people in the communal relationship we call “Church”? Will CoronaVirus accelerate people’s journey to faith… or away from it? Will COVID-19 accelerate the growth of churches that were poised to expand their impact and influence? On the flip side of that, will it be the final straw for churches in decline, accelerating those on the verge of closing their doors to go ahead and “move on”?

But, Perel’s idea could actually hold our attention for a different reason in this Post-Easter season. How can this idea help us understand the disaster that was/is… the cross?

In considering Jesus’ death we see that the cross was actually an accelerator for resurrection life. That disaster, in fact, did not bring Jesus’ relationship to life to an untimely end – it did the opposite! And for the powers of darkness, death and the devil, their “victory” at the cross was short-lived, the cross ended up spelling disaster for them and putting a final nail intheir coffin.

So, what will this COVID-19 experience accelerate in us?  For some, it may reveal the darkness and selfishness inside us that, if left untreated, would be disastrous.  If death has a hold on us in the present age, this event should serve as a warning that it is time to hit the breaks and not continue down that path. 

The almost-too-good-to-be-true good news is that God seems especially talented at working good things out of bad situations. God turned the disastor of slavery in Egypt into an Exodus story. God turned the death of the Son into Salvation. God has a long history of working good out of bad situations – somehow accelerating them towards Kingdom of God purposes. So, when we follow the way of Jesus and are filled with his life, the different expressions of the disaster of death and brokenness around us can actually, amazingly, accelerate the good inside us, moving us towards unending, everlasting, overflowing life.

So, if “disasters generally operate as an accelerator in a relationship,” the fact that we live in a Post-Easter world means that God’s resurrection power can be at work in us accelerating new life and new creation… shaping us into who we, as disciples of Jesus, were meant to be.

Alan Howell

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