Reading the Signs of the Times

Recently on The Patrick Madrid Show, Patrick began one of his segments by asking his listeners to recall what the state of the country was like two years ago, January 2020. News outlets had been monitoring the “Wuhan Virus”, as it was known at the time. Not much was known about it, other than that it was a fast-spreading illness that was relegated to the confines of China. There was no panic. There was no worry. It was distant.

Patrick likened our perception of the virus to the way beachgoers perceive tsunamis, like the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 and the Tōhoku tsunami of 2011. Video shows people just relaxing, having a good time at the beach. Nothing seemed out of place, except for the fact that the waterline had receded drastically. All of the water was being pulled out to sea. Some recognized the signs. Others did not. And as quickly as the water had receded, it came crashing back to shore. Enormous waves hit the coast, thousands were overwhelmed and drowned. Hardly anybody saw it coming.

In the blink of an eye, life was turned upside down for the people of southern and eastern Asia. With no intention of equivocating the severity of the tsunami to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, the difference between the perception of danger and the actual outcomes was vast in both cases. In the course of just a couple of months, American society went from relatively normal to mayhem. There were toilet paper and hand sanitizer shortages, people were panic-buying supplies for the apocalypse, and the government was shutting down cities and quarantining people in their homes.

“Two years ago, we were like those people on the beach and life was normal … The very thought of our churches closing and suddenly you’re no longer able to receive the sacraments, and then you have to wear a mask, and then you have to socially distance, and then you have to get shots, and then you have to do all these other things; it was unthinkable.” There was nothing like this that has happened to any of us in our lifetimes. As Patrick said, we “sleepwalked” into this pandemic that ended up ambushing us like a tsunami. And two years later, we’re still dealing with the aftermath and consequences of this.

In California, nurses and doctors are being told to come to work, even if they have the virus. There’s such a staff shortage that they can no longer afford to turn away sick staff. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, said, “To go to the office, you have to be vaxxed and, you know, if you aren’t going to get vaxxed, you won’t be able to work in that office … We’re not going to pay you to not work in the office … we want people to get vaxxed.” Airline companies are having daily issues bringing in enough people to staff their flights. Contamination is disrupting basic services like grocery providers, first responders, transportation, and medical care. The world is in disarray.

“You may say, ‘Okay, why are you telling me this?’ Here’s why I’m telling you this. I don’t want you to be like that person on the beach when the tsunami rolled in. I don’t want you to be that person standing on the beach wondering, ‘Where did all the water go?’ And, ‘Oh yeah, look at that wave out there. Huh.’ I don’t want you to be the person who’s just looking at all this and not making sense out of it, and not seeing, maybe there’s a bigger picture here, kind of like what we didn’t see two years ago in January 2020. We didn’t see the churches slamming their doors shut. We didn’t see the possibility. It never entered our minds.”

Many of the things that have happened in the last two years were unthinkable. But they happened. Patrick said he doesn’t want us to be caught off-guard if there’s time for us to “get to higher ground.” He doesn’t mean to go live out in the wilderness. He doesn’t mean to fill a bunker with unperishable food and toilet paper. He means that you should get your life in order in simple ways. Go to confession. Organize your spiritual life. We don’t know what the next day or week or month holds for our future.

“If there’s more rough water ahead, okay, prepare yourself spiritually for that. Fill in the leaks. Batten the hatches, not because you’re fearful but because circumstances are grim, and they may get more grim.”  This is not a doomsday proposition, but an encouragement to be prepared. Live each moment as if you were meeting Our Lord the next.

Listen to full segment below:

Tune in to The Patrick Madrid Show weekdays 8am – 11am CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.