Updated: May 22, 2020
What in the world happened to our relationship with toilet paper? It was weird, right? We were all just minding our business, and boom! The virus hit and we all needed to go buy toilet paper, lots of it… like yesterday! Looking at empty shelves caused a collective feeling of scarcity. With so little we could control as we faced an unknown adversary, people were searching for anything to give them a sense of control. Toilet paper was being pulled off of the shelves by the basket full. Urgency took over and it was as if we had to decide in that moment who we were going to be and what we were going to do with this piece of history. How could it be that a little roll of soft white paper could hold such weight in our response to a pandemic?
This bizarre reality reminded me of another time toilet paper played a significant role (sorry for the pun) in my life. My family and I were trapped in a grocery store supply room during a terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya in 2013. I remember desperately pulling packages of toilet paper off the shelf to cover us so we would not be found by the terrorists. It is funny that I, too, chose rolls of thin white paper to try and protect my family from an unknown adversary.
As we sat hiding under the mountain of toilet paper, Proverbs 18:10 came to mind, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run into it and are safe.” I said to God, “Today, Your name is …toilet paper.” It was comforting to joke with God in that stressful moment. I was terrified, but KNEW He was there with me. I was not alone. There was so little in my control during those long hours. I had no idea what the outcome would be, but I did have the power to choose my response.
Scarcity feels scary. We have seen it! But, the good news is there is no scarcity with God. He is enough and has enough to meet the deepest needs of our souls. He is our refuge in whatever storm we are facing and can be trusted to be there- to always be “on the shelves”. Psalm 46 says, "He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea," ...though there is no toilet paper on the shelves.
Above is a drawing I did shortly after the terrorist attack. Below is the song version of Psalm 23 that inspired it.