Mindful Mondays: What Exodus Taught Me About The Current Pandemic
By Shetal Desai
Last week was Passion week……which means, as usual, I could be found watching the epic drama
The Ten Commandments on television. And who couldn’t resist the 3-hour long dramatic re-creation
of Exodus starring Charleton Heston as Moses? A Hebrew slave by birth, raised by the Pharaoh’s
daughter, and a murderer exiled for 40 years, this prophet of God performs signs, wonders and
miracles in the land of Egypt, all the while, urging the Pharaoh to “let my people go!”
It is also The Passover. This week-long holiday observed by Jewish communities all over the world
commemorates their deliverance from the harsh yoke of slavery in Egypt.
But this year, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, I couldn’t help but wonder……..
What does the Exodus have in common with the current pandemic? I mean, really? Plagues,
pestilence, and natural disasters. Ordinances requiring families to “shelter-in-place?” Yep, my
thoughts exactly. It’s worth revisiting the good old book of Exodus.
For over 400 years the Israelites lived under the tyranny of slavery in Egypt. As slaves, the Israelites
had developed an unhealthy reliance on their Egyptian masters and had lost their dependence on
God. Instead of reverence for God, fear had conquered their hearts and their allegiance. God had
heard the distress of His people and was filled with compassion for them. So, He raised up a leader
named Moses to bring His people to freedom.
However, this required overcoming a huge obstacle. Moses had to get the Pharaoh to agree to let
his people go and this was no easy task. The people of Israel had become very valuable to the
Pharaoh as cheap labor. Letting the Israelites leave meant losing his economic workforce and
would bring the Egyptian economy to a grinding halt. Perhaps, even make Egypt appear weak to
surrounding enemy nations. In order to compel the Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to leave, God,
through Moses, sends a series of unprecedented plagues, pestilence and natural disasters upon
Unfortunately, each successive plague only managed to harden the Pharaoh’s heart. In the final
climax of the story of Exodus, God instructs Moses to have the Israelites place the blood of the
sacrificial lamb on the doorposts of their homes and implores them to “shelter-in-place” until the
following morning. In doing so, the Israelites would be spared the last and final plague; the death of
every first born male.
Today, as we are “sheltered-in-place” because of COVID-19, I’m reminded of the history of the
Jewish Passover and our need to ask: What do we need deliverance from today? Self-reliance?
Busy schedules? Unhealthy lifestyles? Our devices?
You see, anything that takes our hearts away from total devotion to God can be a yoke of slavery
around our necks. And sometimes, God in His merciful way has to break us of those unhealthy
attachments. Has this forced shutdown revealed anything in your heart that may need to be
uprooted so you can find true freedom?
Together, let’s use this time wisely and develop healthier patterns of relating and doing life together.
Maybe we’ve learned that less is more. Did we really need that many rolls of toilet paper anyway?
And maybe we’ve been able to catch up on our rest and make time for exercise that was long
overdue. Maybe our children appreciate more frequent game nights or reading stories together.
Let’s face it, we needed to slow down. We needed to be delivered from ourselves. And, slowing
down doesn’t have to mean we’re not productive or mindful. In fact, it may improve our lives and
health by giving priority to rest, reflection, and relationships instead of being enslaved to our hectic
schedules and bad habits. Let’s take this time to reflect on how we can incorporate a few changes
into our day that will inspire more peace and joy in our lives.