Will the “New Normal” End up as the “Old Normal”?
“We’re not going back to the old way of doing things. We need to adapt to a New Normal.”
This is pretty much the call we’ve been hearing repeatedly in recent months, as Singapore learns to cope with the impact of Covid-19. It’s a necessary injunction, given that this disease isn’t going to go away anytime soon. We do need to change the way we work, go to school, and meet other people; and we need to improve overall hygiene levels so as to stay safe and prevent the pandemic from spreading further.
Naturally, it’s a big challenge. With some of the initial fear of the coronavirus ebbing, and frustrations with the restrictions growing, it is tempting for us go back to our “old” way of life—without safe distancing, mask wearing, and restrictions on group sizes.
In a way, I don’t blame people from ignoring some of the restrictions. Why can’t we just go back to life as we knew it before? What’s wrong with it?
The fact remains, however: we do need to change the way we live. Covid-19 has shown us that we need to change our approach to hygiene and health forever, if we want to protect ourselves and ensure the health and safety of ourselves, our families, and future generations. It isn’t easy, but it’s necessary.
It reminds me of the dilemma we face as Christians. Having been forgiven of our sins and accepted as God’s redeemed children, we are all called to make a permanent change in life—to live a New Normal as followers of Christ. We are not to “conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind” (Romans 12:2). Not only are we to lead godly, Christ-like lives that please God, but our entire being and purpose is also to change, such that we now live for Him alone and no longer for ourselves. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 puts it succinctly, we become “a new creation” in Christ.
Yet, as Paul himself acknowledged, this struggle between the “old normal” and New Normal is a long-drawn, difficult one. All of us are continually tempted to go back to our old habits and ways instead of letting God take over our lives. “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out,” Paul reported in Romans 7:18, before lamenting, “What a wretched man I am!” (v. 24).
Unlike the lifestyle changes we need to make in the wake of Covid-19, however, we have divine help for this spiritual transformation. The amazing thing is that, as much as God wants us to change, He will also help us to change.
God does not leave us powerless and vulnerable to the power of sin or even our old selves, then expect us to be victorious. Rather, He has placed in us the Holy Spirit, who will not only change our hearts, minds, and wills so that we will want to change, but also give us the power to do so. He will give us the desire to obey Him, the strength to resist temptation, and the faith to trust Him to change us from the inside, bit by bit, in His own time and way.
What’s more, God is patient with us. Having created us, He knows that we are weak and prone to failure, and that we will keep stumbling and falling. But He forgives us, again and again, lifts us up, dusts us off, and tells us: “I still love you, and My Spirit is still working in You.”
How can we move to New Normal in our spiritual lives and avoid going back to the “old normal”? By acknowledging that God’s way is the right and only way to life, and saying “yes” to the Spirit and allowing Him to work in our lives.
As Philippians 2:13 reminds us: “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.” —Leslie Koh
Lord, You know that I struggle with my old self, ways, and habits,
and find it hard to be the person You want me to be.
Please remind me not to depend on myself,
but to rely on You completely,
for I know that Your Spirit is working in me daily,
to make me more and more like Your Son.
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