The United States Divided/COVID-19 Contrast
We’re a country in turmoil, seemingly a people divided, as a COVID-19 contrast makes itself increasingly clearer.
Protect the People
A woman’s daughter was being taken to ICU to be placed on a ventilator due to COVID-19. She tweeted of her struggle and request for prayers for her child. A Facebook post from a woman living in my state caught my attention, a state with low COVID-19 activity presently. It included a picture of two nurses standing in an upper hospital window holding handwritten signs: “He is at peace” and “We are so sorry”. She’d lost her dad to COVID-19. For many, the struggle is real.
I write of our stay-at-home efforts during these unique times as an offer of help to others in my blog Take A Knee – Pause for the Pandemic.
Protect My Rights
Meanwhile, other posts populate social media and stories are highlighted on the news of people protesting Stay-at-Home orders, social distancing, and mask policies. They appear proudly defiant and argumentative. Standing up for their personal rights, many choose to defy advice meant to aid all of our loved ones, friends, and fellow United States citizens.
There’s a stark COVID-19 contrast between the two ways of living right now. Either we strongly want people to take seriously the gravity of this pandemic and the importance of taking measures to protect one another or we’re demanding freedoms we feel we deserve, regardless of the cost to ourselves and others.
A comparison to faith has crossed my mind. Such contrast exists between those of faith and those living in unbelief.
Those Who Submit to God
People who have seen the glory of the Lord, those He’s revealed Himself to, willingly submit to relationship with Him. They allow Him to rule, letting go of their own will, knowing that His ways are higher. Often their faith comes from difficult times during which they’ve seen the hand of God at work. They step away from people, habits, mindsets that didn’t serve Him well and ultimately didn’t serve themselves well either. They embrace a new life, one misunderstood by many. Where struggle was once real, grace is now recognized.
Meanwhile, there are those who not only rebel against the idea of letting go of control and submitting to God for themselves, they rise up to criticize those who have. They boldly argue against His existence. It seems imperative others not follow suit, even when such acts don’t directly impact them.
The interesting factor here, in both scenarios, is first-hand experience.
Direct Experience with COVID-19
Many who’ve unfortunately suffered the horrific effects of the pandemic may be able to appreciate the fight for rights. They may have previously felt the same. However, when tragedy strikes and what was chosen to be disregarded or watched cautiously from a distance becomes first-hand account, the devastating results of this coronavirus can’t be ignored.
Those in mourning may understand those who haven’t yet faced what they have. But those fighting for freedoms lost can’t yet comprehend and don’t agree with the insistence for protection. Therefore, they argue against any adherence, as if submission to guidance is something more tragic. An example is found in this Twitter post by @Lori_Morse56 stating, “The masks aren’t for your protection, they’re a sign of your submission”. Perhaps they’ve yet to experience the coronavirus disaster personally or they simply want it to run its course naturally, but it’s likely they don’t understand fully what those believe who have faced it and been changed by it.
An opinion article, What Is Making You Stay At Home Right Now, written by Todd May and published on April 29, 2020, points to the reality of how connected we, as people, are. “The coronavirus has, among other things, revealed how our daily actions are woven into those of others in ways that have consequences for all of us.”
Personal Experience with God
In Spiritual comparison, when God has revealed Himself to us, our beliefs change. We can trust then, as believers, that God’s able to reveal Himself to unbelievers, just as He did to us. We can understand disbelief and opinions that rise up in opposition to faith, but we don’t have to let them bother us. There’s nothing to prove, because God is mighty and revelation only comes from Him. Better yet, we can participate by praying for them and letting God do His thing.
Similarly, we can have compassion on those who oppose the protective suggestions meant to help during this pandemic. God is in control of these situations as well. We can rest in God and pray for all while living our own realities.
We Are Called to Love Even Those Who Disagree With Us
Though the COVID-19 contrast is presently strong, let God’s peace rule in your heart. As stated by The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina in a message titled A Faith-Based Response to COVID-19, “We are called to love our neighbor.” It refers to the importance of staying home, but don’t forget, we’re also called to love the neighbor that disagrees with us.
Pray, trust, and live in the peace that only God produces, regardless of what’s seen.
God’s Will Be Done
No matter where you fall in the faith or the COVID-19 contrast, rest assured that God’s will is being done. He is in control.
I pause, feeling helpless as an individual in a global pandemic, wishing I could make a difference.
I wasn’t your typical parent and sports wasn’t my thing. Like many, I supported my children in their endeavors, encouraged them, and set guidelines to create a positive atmosphere. However, I was one who stood on the outskirts observing. Quietly cheering them on, rather than shouting out my praises or hovering in a state of ready to help. I was timid, perhaps, but my rationale was to urge them to step out and tackle what they wanted, greatly on their own.
I sat in the sunshine as it streamed through my kitchen window this morning. In the quiet solace of a relatively new empty nest, I contemplated the tragedy our world is presently experiencing. I tried to put a description to what I’m witnessing and feeling while we, as a world, pause together. When this Covid-19 epidemic was first rearing its ugly head, cities and countries were demanding people isolate. I’d felt that stopping normal activity was merely prolonging the inevitable. In the meantime, it was destroying the financial security and livelihoods of far more lives than this virus would ultimately take.
As many of us, I’ve observed and formed opinions only to have those beliefs mutate. With each wave of new reality that ebbs and flows, consumes and yet leaves us hanging, my thoughts change. In a world blessed with the benefit of quick results, we’re being challenged greatly. We’re expected to hunker down and wait for the worst, not knowing how devastating it will be. Though trying to be positive, we’re completely aware of how vulnerable we truly are. We’re not in control. We talk as if life is normal, plan for tomorrow as if it’ll be the same as yesterday, oblivious to what’s coming. Yet we’re keenly attentive at the same time.
My eyes settled on the unnerving calm outside my window when a vivid memory flooded my mind. A hush had fallen over the field, a quiet that beat with the same heart of today’s eeriness. It’d been a cool fall day and I was attending our high school’s soccer game to support my youngest in his sports interests. He’d been active on and off the field, a great aid to his team and coach. I watched from my perch on the hillside where I’d been quietly cheering from the outskirts, more distant than most parents. It was the perfect location to be a witness. The whole field of boys, both teams in a wave of solemn solidarity, took a knee. Someone was down.
We Are Taking A Knee
I’ve grumbled that life should go on and that this virus will and should run its course. I’ve felt the economic hit to the world as we’re required to pause seems senseless. But all in a moment, with this memory offering revelation, I understood. We who are not on the front lines, who are not critically ill, who are not treating the sick and dying, who are not hurriedly trying to create a way to accommodate anticipated needs, we who are not putting our lives in danger to try to save some while witnessing the loss of many, we are taking a knee. This is serious. The risks are great to those people on the front-lines, the hurt as well as the helpers. It’s important that we pause to offer the chance of some sort of success to those fighting this battle.
The young player was helped up from the ground. Both teams in unison rose from their knees and applauded as he was loaded on the school’s John Deere Gator and taken off the field. Tears filled my eyes at the touching scene. Opponents and teammates alike were united as they had taken a knee and paused, unable to help, but quietly allowing those who could to do their jobs.
A Relevant Comparison
Based on an October 14, 2014 article posted on Forbes’ website “Should Players Be Required to ‘Take A Knee’ When A Fellow Competitor Gets Injured” written by Bob Cook, I see the relevant comparison. “Taking a knee as a sign of respect for an injured player isn’t just something for football. … It’s a sign of respect and concern when someone is hurt, but more than that putting players in that position means they’re not moving, chattering, or doing anything else than could look disrespectful. It also sends a signal to the stands that the injury is serious, and everyone should be concerned.”
Pause for the Pandemic
Covid-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020 by WHO (World Health Organization). Its overall impact to the world’s population right now is serious. We should be concerned. Not only is our senior population threatened, based on today’s White House press conference, millennials, the future of the world, are becoming critically ill as well.
We’re settling into a new, quickly-changing reality of which we’re not in control, and accepting isolation, pausing from activity, may allow the front-line war to be more manageable and the next generation to live on. We are those soccer players. Perhaps once opponents in opinion, political party, or religious beliefs, we are now united as a world. If nothing else, the rapid spread of Covid-19 throughout the earth shows how intimately connected we really are as a people. Let’s spread support and kindness just as rapidly. Take a knee. Pause for the pandemic. Make a difference.
God’s peace to you,
“Being idle and allowing God full control seems too awkward, perhaps even sinful.” If this describes your struggle as life presently feels out of control, click here for my video message proclaiming that Freedom Is Yours!
In a moment life changes. That’s all it takes, a moment really. An accident, news from afar, a secret brought to light. Many things can happen that alter the course of life forever, leaving us derailed by tragedy.
How do you dress for that, the moment that changes life? I stood before my mirror, contemplating my outfit, my hairstyle. I applied my make-up with a feeling of melancholy tugging at my heart. The Christian music playing in the background of my mind encouraged me to, once again, trust what God was doing. I stepped down the stairs, ready as I’d ever be for whatever was coming.
“Stay where you are. Something very bad is coming. If you remain faithful to me, you will be truly blessed.” God had spoken those words to me long, long ago, and when bad came, though the storm was powerful, I never felt alone. Though rattled, I could not be shaken. God’s strength, peace, and direction had become my everything. The presence of God was the center of who I was.
He spoke to me once again, way back then, giving peace to my timid heart. It was in the words of a song, the direction that freed me. “The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth.” You see, I wasn’t going to win some big battle that would announce to the world that I’d done well. The fact was that I’d already won, because I had peace. Peace in the midst of chaos. Peace in the middle of the storm. Peace regardless of circumstances. In that moment of revelation and clarity, weight lifted from my shoulders. It had been a weight declaring that I’d failed. It’d been a weight of segregation as I’d been left to fend for myself. It’d been a weight of loss, for the life I’d envisioned I was to live was not to be.
In that moment of clarity I realized that I was meant to be alone so God could be my strength. I was meant to love my enemy, because that is what God is, love. I was meant to endure loss of my own expectations, because I was not in control, God was.
Winds of Change are Present
When sudden change hits it can cripple the unsuspecting. Life becomes immediately out of control, overwhelming, and frightening. When today becomes instantly unfamiliar, a step toward tomorrow is beyond comprehension. How do you plan for such events? Is it in making sure your plans for future, finances, family matters, or work intentions are well prepared? Is it in reading about, studying, putting into practice good organizational skills? Is it in trying to control your life as well the lives of those who impact yours? If all of these things are worked toward, it would make sense that the unexpected changes that could potentially alter all for you would be less likely. If you strive to make your comfort zone safe and lessen the impact of outside influence, it would seem that chaos may be diverted. Wrong.
“In a moment” changes will happen to each of us. Are you prepared? Can you be prepared? All of the things we strive for in order to be in control will ultimately not be able to comfort us when that day comes. The work we’ve put into securing our futures won’t be capable of withstanding the overwhelming suddenness of change. Tragedy is beyond our control. Chaos is outside our ability to manage as it is beyond the realm of plans and organization. Whether you are a planner or a fly by the seat of your pants person, sudden life changes impact us all similarly. We struggle, we deny, we overthink and worry, we strive to find balance that stops the threat to sanity. No matter who we are or what we believe, we are all created beings and will face such days.
The answer of how to be prepared for and handle such a time is only found in relationship with God. He is the Answer. Whether you reach for Him during the time of struggle or partner with Him prior, He is the power that will see you through. Come close to God today. Knock on the door of His mansion. Seek a relationship with your Creator. Let His qualities, the very essence of Him, fill and comfort you. As a deeply intimate and personal relationship with God becomes established, you will grow in trust of Him and His will. When the sudden changes of life strike, you will have a Rock to stand on, a peace that passes all understanding, and sound guidance through haze and storm. No amount of personal planning and effort can compare as that is created by us. Only the presence of the Creator can calm the storm and straighten the confused path that chaos creates.
The day ended, no different than it had begun really. I brushed my teeth, contemplating how change is happening without me being yet aware. God works all things together to accomplish His will. This takes time. It takes a seemingly unrelated string of happenings to bring about God’s will. That takes years of various circumstances occurring, intertwining at some point, culminating in results that alter our lives. And many times things must appear far worse before they get better. I trust Him.
Though God’s will for my life back then was unlike the picture I’d had, trusting Him made all the difference in the world. He was with me when the earthly expectations of life faltered. He held me and led me through uncomfortable waters. The blessings He suggested I could enjoy have been realized. They aren’t in material, emotional, or financial gains. My blessings are experienced in this amazing relationship with a God who loves me. It’s abstract, intangible, supernatural, but oh so real.
Life doesn’t happen with a happily ever after slogan splashed across it. That just isn’t reality for most people. I’d imagine it isn’t for anyone. However, for those who keep their eyes on the Lord, there is a peace that makes the highs and lows of chaos nonexistent. In a moment life changes. That’s all it takes, but with God at your center, you will not be shaken. Your life will not be derailed by tragedy. May you be filled to overflowing with the light of God, enjoy His comfort during times of change, and trust His will, regardless of circumstances.
John 8:31“….If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
A Dream Conveyed Deep Pain
I woke sobbing. My heart was broken. My brother had committed suicide rather than face the consequences of old actions newly exposed. It was clear that he’d been hiding behind years of lies and alcohol which now made sense. It was a dream, but it was so vivid that I was shuddering with sorrow for the lack hope that he had. I knew what he’d been missing.
Many people walk in deep despair, one bad day away from giving up, hope already stale and crumbling. In examining all the stepping stones crossed to reach such a desperate vantage point, tragedy certainly has a foothold and is deeply rooted. Misfortune comes in many forms, the results often kept hidden to avoid judgement or consequence. Lies are laid down one at a time, building a wall to keep secrets hidden, assuring survival.
How many people have a plan of what to do should truth be exposed? Are they convinced their lies keep them out of trouble? Do people believe they can foresee the difficulties that may overwhelm should truth be uncovered? How desperate are they to avoid that possibility?
Satan Seeks Victims
Shame…it’s dirty in more than name and controlling in nature. Not so sparingly, Satan uses it when casting his net. He seeks those who are easily swayed and quick to cower from it. The devil’s victims are convinced that, if their darkness is brought to light, others’ judgement will match the consequences human or spiritual law brings. Who could survive either, and why would someone try?
The Truth Will Set You Free is based on that dream and the hopelessness many are burdened with. I know the answer and pray many who struggle have the answer revealed to them before they can’t cope anymore. Christ is the answer. That’s all. At the risk of sounding callous, it’s simple. No certain number of steps are required to reach healing, and no amount of money can cleanse you of shame that’s buried. Freedom comes by believing in and knowing Christ.
Jesus is the Truth
You see, He is the Word that you should seek a relationship with and continue focusing on. Keep your eyes on Him and talk to Him about anything He puts on your heart. As you grow in that relationship, you will come to know Him, and He is, in fact, Truth itself. He, Jesus, the Truth, is the only thing that can set you free.
In some instances, through the course of your relationship, He may put it on your heart to expose the earthly truths that have hurt you. You won’t be alone on this journey. Christ is with you, and God has a plan that is for your benefit. If that comes to be the case, exposing truths that Satan has used to keep you in his control becomes freeing in many ways. A weight lifts as Satan’s grasp falters and fails. In some instances, the close connection with your Savior may be all you need to heal the hurts that have scarred your soul. In either case, regardless of the scenario God leads you through, He is the Answer and The Truth that Will Set You Free!
I pray my third novel, The Truth Will Set You Free, has a strong impact, clearly illustrates our need for hope, and points readers to Christ who is that hope. You can read the first chapter, check it out, or purchase it here. God bless you.