Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)
Last week was my daughter’s birthday. It was day #7 of the COVID-19 shut-down in my state, and up until that point, I’d been doing pretty well. I remained positive and cheery in my communications with my church. Meal-planning was going smoothly to help us limit grocery store trips. My kids were actually coping well with staying close to home. But, as I made a cookie cake with my daughter to prepare to celebrate her special day, I hit the wall. I’d reached my breaking point.
Is this going to be how she remembered her birthday? Are terms like COVID and social distancing going to be what she associates with turning four years old? And is it really safe to send my husband to get Culver’s, her requested birthday dinner? I’m not emotionless, but I usually keep it together pretty well. Until now. I completely lost it.
I sobbed uncontrollably for almost an hour. When our pastor came to the door to pick something up, I couldn’t even bring myself to leave the bedroom. And it didn’t stop there. I collected myself and made it through the rest of the day, only to lose it again when we put our kids to bed. And then, after devotion and watching some TV with my husband, I cried myself to sleep.
My husband tried to get me to talk about why I was crying. But honestly, I couldn’t pinpoint any one emotion that was overwhelming the other. I was, and am still, feeling so many different things:
- I’m afraid. Do I have enough food for my kids? Will we get sick? Will we all stay sane spending so much time together?
- I’m angry. How did things get so bad? Why didn’t someone do something to stop this disease?
- I’m heart-broken. I’m mourning all those memories my kids won’t make this school year. And I feel for all the medical professionals who are working so hard to keep us safe.
- I’m anxious. What are we blissfully unaware of when we venture out to get groceries? Who do we know who’s gotten sick? Could I be sick?
- I’m uncertain. As I look at a blank calendar, I wonder how long our lives will be on hold. And I wonder why God isn’t stepping in to save the day.
And I know that I’m not alone in these feelings. Which is why I’m feeling a little guilty about even writing this. We’re all in this together. Nothing in my experience over the last week is different than a million other people’s lives.
Finding the “Why”
Like most other US churches, our church has move to online-only services for the time being. We’re blessed to have a streaming set-up going already, so it wasn’t a difficult move to solely digital, although it was sad. And we have been floored and honored by how many people have joined us for worship online. Streaming platforms are struggling to keep up with the sheer number of people flocking to worship online with their churches, or new churches. People are hungry for Jesus.
What I’ve realized since my break-down is that, although this situation is like nothing any of us have ever experienced, God’s using it for the good of all of us. He’s bringing people who have fallen away back to Him. He’s gently nudging those of us Christians who feel like they have it all together to cling tightly to Him and His Word. There are infinite opportunities to love your neighbor and share the Good News. And he’s turning technology, which has become an idol for some of us, into a tool to bring us all closer to Him:
But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob,he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior (Isaiah 43:1-3).
Hold On Tightly
I’m still not okay. And honestly, I don’t think I will be okay for quite a while. This is not a situation where I can have one sob-fest and get over it. At least for me, it’s going to be a daily battle to choose faith over fear… prayer over anxiety… peace over bitterness. There’s a verse from the book of 1 Thessalonians that has been my go-to verse for quite some time, and it’s even more important to me now:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
This situation we’re in right now is God’s will for each of us. And His will is that we would lean on Him, pray to Him, and give thanks to Him, now and forever.
I’m praying for you and your families right now, that you may cling to the One who knows how and when this all ends. And until it does end, remember: it’s okay to not be okay, and God’s got it under control.