Total cases: 492,416
Total deaths: 18,559
(According to CDC, on 4/11/2020)
This week the statistic of the COVID-19 pandemic hit me in a new way. Prior to this week, they were just a statistic and sad to say they were not much more than that. I look at this number of deaths this is 18,559 people who have died since January 21, 2020(that is only 81 days). There is a person with a name, a family and a life behind each number. A person is a person no matter who they were or what they did. They are still a person that God created to be on this earth for a time. People matter to God so they should matter to us.
There are people who will argue that this statistic is inflated or incorrect, that some of those people died of something else but tested positive for COVID-19 or let us not forget the numerous conspiracy theories that are out there surrounding COVID-19. Can we stop arguing?!? The fact is that 18,559 people have died in the United States in 81 days! This number does not include the people who have died that are not related to COVID-19.
Let that sink in for a little. 18,559 people have died in 81 days in the US.
How does this not bother us? How does this not sadden us? How is this not like a sucker punch to our gut when we hear it?
Can we put aside all politics, conspiracy theories, etc? And mourn with the people who have lost loved ones?
Most likely these family and friends will not be able to say goodbye to their loved ones for a while due to the funeral being postponed. Meanwhile, they continue living life feeling and seeing the void their loved one left behind. Put yourself in their shoes. Think about how that would feel, how it would be hard to face each day and how they feel when they see us arguing about where COVID-19 came from or who is responsible for it. At this point, in my opinion when we are pointing the fingers to someone else we are forgetting what is important. Reality is that we are in a health pandemic worldwide with a highly contagious virus. And we all have a responsibility to respond wisely and do our part to help minimize the spread.
While I am on this soapbox, I am going to share something else that I have seen that sends me from zero to one hundred. Some Christians have claimed that this is religious persecution because we are not able to gather in our churches together to have church.
First, this is not religious persecution. Our governing authorities have put things in place to protect us. And we as Christians have a responsibility to follow what our authorities ask us to do. “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Romans 13:1 The government authorities have not taken away our religious freedom at this time in the United States.
Second, the church is more than just a building. We(people) are the church, not a building. This pandemic has caused Christians to look at how we do church and why we do it this way. It has caused a pivot in churches. Most churches are holding services online. Most of my family is Old Order Mennonite and they have held church services in a building for many generations. They are now doing a hotline call where their congregation can call in and listen to the message. They do not have internet and/or TV so doing church online is not an option. This is a monumental change for this church! This would have not happened if they did not need to think creatively on how to provide a message for their congregations.
Can we put ourselves aside and think of others during this time? This will look different for each person.
It might mean that you stay home and practice social distancing.
It might mean that you wear a mask when you go grocery shopping.
It might mean that you find creative ways to connect with others. Such as phone calls, video calls, send snail mail, etc.
It might mean that your business pivots to be able to continue to serve your clients.
It might mean you work from home now.
It might mean that you no longer have the distractions that you had and you have no excuse not to do the thing you have been putting off.
It might mean that you support essential workers by staying home. As they are putting their life on the line to make sure people have what they need or the care they need.
Light in the darkness
That is who you are” – Way Maker
Yesterday I got news that a friend died from cancer. He leaves behind a wife, family and friends who are grieving his death. Tonight at church I had a hard time singing these lyrics to this song as I was processing my friend’s death. All a sudden I could not sing these words because I started to question why God did not heal my friend. If He is the miracle worker and promise keeper, why did He not heal my friend on this earth so that his family and friends do not need to feel this pain of him not being on this earth anymore?
There are many questions you ask when you are grieving and hurting. And it is hard to understand why God did not heal my friend on this earth. Why did my friend’s healing needed to include his death on earth? Why did he have to die at such young age? Why does his family and friends have to go through this pain? I do not have answers for these questions. I am a person that likes to know why. I do not know why my friend died and this truth is hard to grapple with.
Death has a hurt associated with it on earth as we as humans grieve a loss. Because this pain hurts and it is so real. I have felt it in the past and feel it now. Emotions are real and they are given to us by God to help process and experience life. But sometimes we have to be careful that we do not get caught in the hamster wheel of hopelessness when we are processing and experiencing our emotions.
In a time of grief, we can feel hopeless in our pain. But reality is that we can feel hope in a hopeless time. Tonight as a wrote out what I was feeling in my planner, I came to the conclusion that Jesus is my hope. Because He the source of my hope, I can have hope even when it seems hopeless. He does not break His promises to us. He is the source of miracles whether they are received here on earth or in heaven. He is a way maker when it seems like there is no way out. And my feelings do not negate these truths in this moment or any other moment.
Hannah in the Bible experienced this. In the midst of her pain of being barren, she cried out to God with her emotions but she anchored her hope in God even though her situation and pain did not change immediately. Her situation was hopeless and seemed impossible. Eventually she did receive her miracle of a son.
“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”
“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.
Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.” 1 Samuel 1:10-20
So tonight as I write this blog post, I may not understand why my friend’s death occurred. And the emotions I am feeling are real but tonight I chose to believe God’s truth over my emotions. And I choose to anchor my hope in Jesus because He helps to carry my emotions as I walk this journey in what may seem hopeless at times.