Guiding lights transform difficult days into holy futures
In these early days of 2021, our national leaders in science, healthcare, and politics are saying essentially the same thing about the coming weeks: The darkest and most difficult days of the COVID-19 pandemic are still ahead of us.
As much as all of us hate hearing these words, I submit that we need to accept them and adjust our lives around this unwelcome reality. If, by some chance these responsible and cautious voices happen to be wrong, then that would constitute good news, a very pleasant surprise!
But if they are correct – which is very likely based upon how universally this opinion is accepted within the scientific and medical communities – then we will all do well to gather our individual, community, and corporate energies and summon all our common strengths to meet the challenges ahead.
Let us remind ourselves that God is not absent in our darkest hours. God is not dead, nor is God asleep. However, nowhere in scripture are we taught – nor does holy writ insinuate – that our lives will be easy. To expect ease, constant good health and fortune, sunny skies, convenience aplenty and ongoing daily smoothness and abundance … these attitudes of entitlement are sure to distort the gospel and create gods of our own making.
Make no mistake about it; these are terribly tough times. The virus is brutal, careless of class, social standing, political persuasion, religious traditions, language and dialect, or spiritual commitment. It’s a disease, and anyone … absolutely anyone … can contract it and/or die from it. That includes me as I write this article and you as you read it, as well as those we hold dearest.
None of the above is meant to frighten anyone. In fact, the motivation in writing it is to encourage us in a number of ways.
First, every generation in memory has had its Civil War, its WWI, its WW2, its flu, its polio, its Great Depression, its turbulent 1960s, its Korean Conflict, its Vietnam, its 9/11, its pandemic. Many of us have endured (and survived) multiple national and global crises. Sometimes during those dark days, we wondered if we would survive, but we did.
Second, this too shall pass. We do not know when, we do not know exactly how, and we don’t know the full cost to be exacted it. But it will slowly evaporate over time, vaccines, and improved medical factors mitigating the effects. Before we realize it, today’s news will be old and we will be on to new challenges and their correlating hopes, fears, dreams, fulfillments, disappointments, panics, lessons learned, joys, gratitude … life!
Third, life on the other side of COVID-19 will be, to some extent, determined by how we live our lives and make new decisions during the stress of the pandemic. We all know from history books and even personal experience that our world tomorrow is largely determined by how we deal with the fears, griefs, issues and challenges of today.
Finally, please do not allow the darkness and depression to obscure the many wonderful things happening, not because of the pandemic, but rather in spite of it. One does not have to look far to spot these things going on all around us.
Please let me encourage us to do several things to help ourselves and those around us.
- In our network, I dare say most of us are knowledgeable of scripture. I encourage you to research and excavate scripture passages which are particularly powerful for you, especially those which contain beloved promises. Write them down. Think on these things. Pray on these things. Take joy and comfort from them.
- Use your playlist to listen and re-listen to some of your very favorite music … music which restores your soul and calms your heart. Let the ointment of glorious sounds fill your ears and soak your heart, reminding you of the power of the of the sacred art that we share.
- Do one thing “in the right direction” every day. By “right direction,” I mean something beyond the scope of a daily habit or the grinding schedule. Do one thing to better prepare yourself for the days ahead. My hunch is you probably already know what that positive, redemptive thing will be. Every day, move in the right direction with love and gratitude in your heart.
- On a daily basis, do something specific to expand your capacity for patience, kindness, acceptance, and love of others. We all need the practice of expressing these qualities, and it may not be long until we need to be on the receiving end of such human mercy and divine grace.
Randy Edwards [email protected]