Yesterday was the first day that I had some normalcy - in so far as a Zoom meeting instead of an in-person meeting is normal. I got to see the faces of other pastors who are friends and we have worked together for years. We shared what was going on and we made each other laugh just as we would if we were together. And then the meeting ended and I began my next task. After a couple of hours though I realized I was sad. I could not quite place my finger on it. So I kept working on uploading, editing, etc. the videos for worship when it hit me. I was grieving.
Grief is real and it sneaks up on us in ways we do not expect.
O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger, or discipline me in your wrath. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror. My soul also is struck with terror, while you, O Lord—how long? Turn, O Lord, save my life; deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love. For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who can give you praise? I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eyes waste away because of grief; they grow weak because of all my foes. Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord accepts my prayer. All my enemies shall be ashamed and struck with terror; they shall turn back, and in a moment be put to shame.
I read and re-read and saw that parts of this really spoke to where I was or where someone I have talked to is. And then I looked at the title - which I did not post at the top - A Prayer for the Recovery From Grave Illness. It's as if someone named the elephant in the room. We hope and pray that no one we love and care for dies from COVID-19. Just last week the Hardin-Jefferson's Band Director died. I was surprised at how many people in my sphere knew him. And in talking with colleagues from areas who are ahead of us - it only gets worse.
So what do we do? We can pray - share all of our burdens with God. You can call, email or text me and I am happy to listen. Call a friend, read a book, watch a movie - anything that helps you relax. God did not cause this virus. God is in the business of loving and caring for us. Does that mean that there is not pain. No, but we can trust the promise that God is with us - even in the valley of the shadow of death.
I was reminded that this is not a sprint but a marathon. Now I'm not a runner but I know the importance of pacing oneself. In case you need the permission - it's okay to not be busy all day, every day. It's not just okay, but desirable that you do something every day that brings you joy. God has heard our prayers - the one's we've said out-loud and the ones that are deep within our hearts. God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God!
Gracious God, keep us near to you this day and fill our hearts and minds with the peace of Christ, which surpasses all understanding through Christ, our Lord. Amen.