I recently asked a young woman about what ways she has found to profit from the situation of living during a pandemic.
Her immediate answer was that she came to truly value attending church because this is something that had been taken away during to the periods of lockdown. Prior to the pandemic, she would often skip church because of her erratic work hours, but once she had experienced the loss of this possibility that was not on her own terms, she resolved to make church attendance, when possible again, a non-negotiable commitment in her life.
This is a testament that we value that which costs us.
If something costs us nothing, it is natural to expect that we will not value it highly.
And so I am also reminded of the ardour with which persecuted Christians attend church.
They are often like the First Christians who said, “Without Sunday, we cannot live.”
What led to such a statement of resolute conviction was the sense that there could be a real price to pay (such as martyrdom) and that there could be a real value to it (such that so greatly exceeds the concerns of this world).
When I went to Alexandria on my trip to Egypt in January 2020, I visited al-Qiddissin Coptic Orthodox Church. A decade earlier a suicide bomber killed 23 and injured 97 Coptic Christians there.
As I was guided throughout the church, I could not resist inquiring whether there was anyone around who had been there the night of the attack.
My guide promptly brought me over to a security guard named Magdy who survived the attack.
As he recounted the horrific scene that fateful night, he pointed to his stomach, both of his sides, his leg, and one hand that had been wounded by the bomb. He then explained to me that, after several hours of surgery and just four months later, he returned to being a security guard at the church that now displays pieces from the bomb that were lodged inside his body.
He told me his faith had been strengthened.
There are many different responses to loss and deprival. Not all of them are equally noble. But if there are indeed meaningful ways for loss to increase our appreciation, then these are probably worth discovering and cherishing.
Photo: Visit to al-Qiddissin Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria, Egypt in January 2020