During week one of social distancing, I helped distribute food. The public schools and another nonprofit had done the hard work of rallying volunteers to donate and assemble bags. I set up a table one day and handed out bags another day. It was easy to keep six feet away from people except during the hand-off. The only person I may have touched was a senior citizen who rolled up in her wheelchair. I was concerned the oranges would scatter all over the sidewalk if I didn’t fold up her umbrella.
Even though my activities were very low risk, my grown children scolded me for leaving home. I get it. They love me and Joe, and they want us to be safe. All I can say is that my behavior is payback for all the times they disobeyed us when they were growing up!
In all seriousness, our world is facing a scary crisis and I have felt scared. Mostly, though, I have felt peace. I attribute this to being 56 years old and having a long history with God.
While there’s no pandemic in my history with God, there is
The sudden death of my mom who would have turned 85 yesterday.
The loss of my seventh daughter who died the day she was born.
There has been job loss, poverty, sickness, and marital trouble.
There has been church hurt, depression and the destruction of treasured reationships.
In everything God was with me and my faith in him grew stronger.
That does not mean those times were easy. Absolutely not! I wrestled with God and questioned him and hated him at times. There were times I wanted to die.
But I am still here, weathered by suffering. I feel more peace than fear in this COVID19 storm because of my many personal storms.
That’s a beautiful thing about aging. Experiencing God’s goodness over and over equips us for the next crisis. Service to others becomes our default setting and peace overcomes fear more easily. This history with God does not justify carelessness. I promise to be at home for the duration. But I also promise that this pandemic is an opportunity to grow our muscles of faith. Let’s stock up on scriptures and worship music. Let’s use that TP to wipe our tears as we take our fears to God. Those fears are real and I do not mean to discount them. I’m just saying that God’s peace, which passes understanding, can calm our hearts and minds, grow our compassion for those who are suffering, and strengthen our faith in Christ.
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Philippians 4.6-7 (MSG)