This is our job now… to lighten each other’s burdens.
Not laden others with guilt or false expectations.
I find it difficult to understand those pushing us to be ‘happy, happy’ – and those whipping up hyper-faith during this pandemic.
It’s not that I don’t believe in joy, or faith, or miracles. I do.
At the same time we need be aware of the suffering that surrounds us – to practice compassion, Jesus was called the Man of Sorrows. He is intimately acquainted with our grief. He weeps with and for us.
Grief and sorrow
It’s okay to grieve, to feel confusion, pain and sorrow.
People are dying. Families have lost their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and children. Millions are out of work. We have lost many of our personal freedoms – are under quarantine. We are facing a novel virus. Covid-19. Nobody really knows how this will all turn out. The economy has ground to a halt. Those with mental illness, the homeless, and minorities have had their condition exacerbated by this pandemic.
We must acknowledge and face these realities.
This is hard.
Galatians 6:2, proclaims – “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Bearing each other’s burdens fulfills the law of Christ! It is crucial, vital.
We are also called to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15.
The Psalms are replete with lament. It is a necessary process.
Without lament, we cannot move towards authentic praise.
Let me be clear. I am not saying we need to set up camp in despair. Invite fear in – putting its feet on our couches. Walk around glum and hopeless.
But we will have bad days, anxious thoughts, and times of intense sadness. Feel lonely and disconnected. And that is normal, it’s okay.
Yes, we who have faith have the greatest reason to have hope. Yet, from that place of hope, we must be careful not to have faith in faith. To hope for a prescribed result. To dictate to God what we believe He should do.
He is no Cosmic Genie.
The Immutable character of God
But we are to place our hope and faith in the immutable character of God. He is Sovereign; He is Incomprehensible; He is wholly Mysterious. His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. Isaiah 55:8 – 9.
We cannot pretend to know how this will end. Who we may lose. How and when we may get back to work/school, or “normal” life. When we will come out of isolation. When will we see those we love again – our friends and families?
What to do?
So what can we do?
1) Look to Him. “I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121: 1 – 2a. In His presence there is help, peace and comfort.
2) Encourage one another. Hebrews 3:13a says, “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today.”” If there ever was a time when we need each other, it’s now! So, pick up the phone, call, text, Zoom, use FB Messenger, or Google Hangouts. Just reach out, or check in, offer kindness. Celebrate the good and grieve the losses. Be there. Virtually. (You know the drill – Stay home – stay safe – stay well.)
Prayer and gratitude
3) Turn your worries and anxieties into petitions and prayers. “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4: 6-7. He wants to hear our what is on our hearts. So we turn to Him – pour out our needs, our sorrows, our deepest longings.
4) Start a gratitude list. Ann Voskamp, Canadian author of One Thousand Gifts, says, “there is always, always, something to be thankful for.” We can remember to “Bless the Lord, oh my soul.” Psalm 103:1a. For He has promised to never leave or forsake us. And He holds us, He carries us.
Be gentle, and sink an anchor
5) Be gentle with yourself and with others. Offer kindness, not judgment. “For he knows our frame: he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:14. He has promised grace and mercy in our time of need. He will give us the strength we need for each day.
Priscilla Jane Owens
As the hymn writer said:
“We have an anchor that keeps the soul, Steadfast and sure while the billows roll, Fastened to the Rock, which cannot move, Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.”
So, we continue to lift one another up, bear each other’s burdens.
And though the storm rages, and the boat rocks wildly, we keep our eyes on Him. Knowing that our times are in His hands. That He knows the beginning from the end. And that He will never, ever let us go.