As restrictions due to the COVID19 pandemic increase, I've noticed that there was a pattern to my emotional journey. I hope that my reflections will be helpful to you also for identifying where you are at and where to go next.
First comes grieving. The things you were looking forward to, the things that were going well and about to get better are suddenly cancelled. Holidays, weddings, job opportunities and ministry fruitfulness - all cancelled. And my first reaction was major disappointment bordering on denial. I faced a lot more cancellations earlier than others, so I'm seeing other people go through this same grief now that I went through a few weeks ago. And this makes sense, our envisioned future is suddenly snatched away from us in a way that has never happened before (for most of us). We are overwhelmed by the big gaping hole where our plans and hopes and dreams used to be.
But as the turbulence of disappointment subsided and I started reflecting on the situation with a more sober mind, I noticed gratitude starting to blossom. First for little things like garden still growing and the bugs still buzzing around. Then gratitude for things that I had taken for granted before started to pop up: access to groceries, a hug from a friends, the quality of conversation when you talk to someone face to face. Other people have also helped me to notice bigger things to be grateful for too. One podcast said, "Think of health as a gift, not a possession. We're not that in control of it. We don't have a deserved right to it, though we nurture it so that we can love our neighbours better." And later in the same podcast, "We are in a global time of pause. Maybe its a time God is speaking and you man hear and see God's loving-kindness now that other idols like science and medicine are removed."
As gratitude grew in strength, I was able to move away from the impact of COVID19 on me and my disappointments, and start to ask God to help me towards generosity towards others. There are people to call or email to check how they are feeling. There are people I can share toilet paper, masks or food with. We printed the flyer to offer help to our neighbours. I also found myself praying for other people more, gabbing my phone for the PrayerMate App first instead of going for the first distraction my eye fell on.
Grieving gave way to gratitude, gratitude lead to generosity and finally, generosity opened up my eyes to the great opportunities of this unique time. I can randomly contact anyone to ask "how are you feeling" without seeming strange. I'm feeling bolder to take conversations towards deeper matters such as faith and death. Some of my non-Christian friends are more open to responding to conversation about death or faith. I can invite people who don't live anywhere near me to online church services or bible studies. I can start a prayer group without having to leave my house. Perhaps people who are intimidated by church are anonymously watching church services streamed online. I heard from a friend that many who drifted from the church are coming back and many seekers are joining online bible studies. All these things remind me that God's grace and sovereign intentions are far greater than any evil human or natural.
Will you pray with me this week that many will move past their grieving to gratitude, generosity and great opportunities? Will you pray with me this week that many who have been blinded by the idols of this world, now confronted by their own frailty and morality will seek God and find him through the forgiveness and new life available in Jesus Christ?