Formations 02.20.2022: Holding On

Genesis 8:1-14

Genesis 8 describes a return to normality after a seemingly endless time buttoned up inside. Is it just me, or does that sound wonderful?

We’re coming up on the second anniversary of the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States. Those of us who have tried our best the past twenty-three months to look out for ourselves, our families, and our neighbors by masking, getting vaccinated, and staying home as much as possible are ready for a break.

As I write this, experts are saying the outbreak of Omicron variant has peaked, and case numbers are falling. I heard a public health expert on NPR the other day express that he was cautiously optimistic things would start looking up by the end of February.

Could the end truly be in sight? Is that too much to ask?

Maybe. Maybe it’s too early to tell, but I can still hope. And as I hope, my thoughts turn to the life-giving word in Genesis 8:1, where the biblical writer tells us that, at long last, “God remembered Noah” and the flood waters begin to recede.

We know the story: the dove, the olive branch, and eventually the ark settling on dry ground in the mountains of Ararat. In all of this we see signs that, however tentatively, life is returning to normal.

We all face our own catastrophes on a far less than global scale. That doesn’t make them any less real or important—certainly not to us. Whatever hurts or fears or frustrations we’re currently carrying, it’s not a bad idea to look for signs of hope. A new option presents itself. A conversation goes better than might have been expected. The pain is becoming more manageable. The clouds—whether literal or figurative—are finally lifting.

Whether we know it or not, whether we feel it or not, these signs are evidence that God remembers us. Biblically speaking, God’s “remembering” isn’t about intellectual recollection. In the Bible, when God remembers somebody, it means that the time has come for God to honor divine promises of protection and provision. It is an act of grace freely bestowed on people at the end of their rope.

All of us has been there. It’s good to know that God is there with us. In fact, it can give us reason to hold on just a little bit longer.


• When have you navigated a return to normality after a harrowing event? What steps did you take? What lessons did you learn?
• Is the “new normal” after a catastrophe ever preferable to the “old normal” that was lost? Explain.
• Where do you look for assurance of God’s presence in difficult times?
• What signs of hope do you see in your current situation?

Darrell Pursiful is the editor of Formations. He is an adjunct professor at Mercer University and an active member of the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia.


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