There have been—and continue to be—much harder experiences for Christians than anything we’ve seen yet. Those Christians thought and wrote about their circumstances, and we should seek their wisdom. We don’t need to start from scratch on these topics. We’re just not that special.
These are not unprecedented days. That’s important to say, because unprecedented has become one of the most overused descriptors of the past year.
To call something unprecedented is to make a very bold statement. It is not merely to say that “this thing hasn’t happened before,” but to say that “nothing even reasonably similar to this thing has happened before.”
To be sure, most of us have seen events this past year (even this past week) that have no clear parallel within our lifetimes. There is really nothing in my lifetime like the COVID shutdowns and stay home orders. The national civil unrest is at a level that I have not witnessed before, though those just a bit older than I am could make a very convincing case that the late 1960s were much more unstable in our nation.
And that already suggests the problem: I didn’t live through the late 1960s, so our current situation seems totally new to me. But to think that it is unprecedented expresses historical ignorance. Even people slightly older than me have seen circumstances like these before.
And that point needs to be broadened. To think that because we haven’t seen an event before that that event is without precedent is not only to be ignorant of history—it is to invite folly.