Nine dollars and 15 cents.

I drove away from the gas pump with a brimming tank for nine dollars and 15 cents.

How is that even possible?

With COVID-19 cutting travel and an oversupply of oil, prices were already down to $1.87 per gallon.

I hadn’t bought gas in more than a month, and with the local supermarket offering double gas points, I’d accumulated enough credits to save 70 cents per gallon.

At $1.17 per gallon, filling a Prius with a 10-gallon tank didn’t take much. My car gets nearly 60 miles per gallon on a bad day, and 65 or more when driving further than the grocery store, so the cost of gasoline has become basically inconsequential.

But I’m all gassed up with no place to go. Life seems out of balance.

For some of us, restrictions due to the pandemic are mainly inconveniences that have jostled our routines.

For parents who wonder what shape school will take for their children, or how they can find adequate childcare, it’s a major stress event.

For those who have seen their incomes plummeting or their businesses going under, it’s a tragedy.

For some who contract the disease, it’s the valley of the shadow of death.

COVID-19 is no respecter of persons. Though it threatens some more than others, the many layers of its wide-reaching impact leave no one untouched.

But we will get through it. I think it’s important to remember that.

The virus will not go away “magically” or very soon or without causing considerably more pain and death and disruption. It will go down fighting, but it will go down.

Face masks and distance will slow the spread if we can care enough about others to practice safe socializing.

Vaccines will be developed in time, and immunity will rise. The economy will rebound, schools will reopen and sports stadiums will fill with fans.

Just not yet.

The first generation of Jesus-followers lived in a difficult world and faced opposition that often disrupted their lives.

They longed for Jesus to return and set things right, but decades passed with no sign of angelic trumpets heralding the Parousia.

As the synoptic gospels were written, their authors saw the importance of including multiple accounts of Jesus counseling patience and faithfulness and expectant hope. The fulfillment of all things was sure, but not yet.

Whether we find ourselves longing for the return of “normalcy” or the return of Jesus, our immediate task is to live into the days before us, putting feet to our faith, love into our world – and masks on our faces.

Opportunities abound, and most of them don’t require even a cheap tank of gas.

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