If the purpose of a journey is to travel from one place to another, what is our destination when we travel through any time of disruption? Disasters, both those created by human action (or lack thereof) and those of natural origin, have the effect of forcing those affected into making decisions and taking actions that few are prepared for. One problem with surviving any disaster is we begin to think that we can make it through anything only to have to relearn that we are neither all powerful nor all knowing.
We have been on a journey since COVID-19 grew to afflict much of the world. The impact of this virus upon the people of the world has created panic, fear, uncertainty, rumor, speculation, misinformation, and a frantic search for anything to help us fight against its effect. Given that we have never experienced this strain of novel coronavirus, we have scrambled to find anything that would offer a cure, relief from the suffering, and a way to prevent it from infecting more people. We have also struggled with how we can protect ourselves against infection.
Where are we now after a year on this journey? Some are grieving the sudden death of one or more loved ones who succumbed to the effect of COVID-19 upon their systems. Some have survived with varying conditions on their health both physical and mental. Some remain isolated hoping to lessen the chances that they will become infected. And some by choice or necessity are taking their chances—some availing themselves of the best practices for limiting exposure and some not—and going out into society to do what they feel is essential for themselves and their families however they are constituted.
Though there are now vaccines available, there is considerable distress over the limited amounts, various schedules for administering available doses, and unanswered questions of effectiveness, length of protection, and any long-term effects. Added to these unknowns are the assertions of some that all of this was manufactured to further some unidentified purpose or agenda by parties unknown. In other words, some are spreading far more fear than help resulting in some being afraid to do anything. Who should we believe when there are so many sources of information and limited means for verification?
While I do not have answers to these questions, I do have hope. As I write this article, the sky is grey, the temperature is in the thirties, and the wind makes being outdoors very uncomfortable. Yet, the bare and lifeless appearing trees and plants are preparing for spring, and the sun continues to shine above the clouds and warm the earth. Birds found some of the bread that I broke up and threw into the back yard and carried it to a protected perch for eating. Our Father continues to watch over all of creation and, I am assured, will continue to do so.
As followers of Jesus, we have the responsibility to love our neighbor as we would ask that we be loved. Having received that love, we can understand the needs of those around us. With the calm assurance that the Spirit gives us, we can relieve the anxieties of those who are struggling to find help in these trying times. The brokenness that shows itself in our fear of being worthy of God’s care can be healed by the knowledge of God’s persistent efforts to show us compassion, consolation, mercy, and forgiveness. These are often expressed through the loving presence of another who has traveled that same road.
Thus, we have hope. All that can beset us is no match for the overwhelming love of God. We are never alone. We are never forgotten. We are not cut off from God’s presence. We are never denied God’s love because of who we are, where we came from, what we look like, or how we came to be. This journey is but the latest iteration of travels from one place to another that have been part of every person’s life throughout history.
I pray, as we all do, that this journey will soon come to an end so that we can move past the chaos of these days. My hope is that we will all find strength in our faith to persist in doing what offers help, hope, and healing to all. May God’s love guide our efforts to care for those around us. May our lives proclaim peace.
Pastor Braxton ><>