I want to be out with my friends, seeing movies and grabbing coffee. I wish I had celebrated my birthday at my favorite restaurant. These losses seem trivial, and in comparison to the life-and-death scenarios unfolding around the country, they are. But it’s OK to mourn them nonetheless.
Our lives today are vastly different than they were just two weeks ago. None of us were prepared for it. And President Donald Trump told Americans on Sunday we need to continue quarantining at least until the end of April.
Instead of resolving this fight against the novel coronavirus on Easter Sunday, the president said the country should brace for a major spike in lives lost at that point. It’s easy to be gripped by fear — to wonder with every move we make if we’re endangering ourselves or someone we love, if we’re silently carrying a virus that for a loved one could be insurmountable.
I wonder when it will end, and what our culture will look like on the other side, whether my life will be personally impacted by the coronavirus, or if any more of my dreams will need to die or be reimagined.
It’s normal to be overwhelmed. It’s right to be scared. But don’t lose hope.
It’s brought to mind Chris Tomlin’s song “White Flag.” In it, he sings:
The battle rages on
As storm and tempest roar
We cannot win this fight
Inside our rebel hearts
We’re laying down our weapons now
We raise our white flag
All to You
So what do we do when the battle rages on? How can we keep moving forward when our motivation is running low and energy hard to muster?
We lean in; we press on. That doesn’t mean we abandon our feelings or muscle through our mourning. It means we feel what we feel, and we pray this way: by asking God to walk with us through our fears, anxieties, worries, frustrations, and sorrows.
Our Lord is Immanuel, God with us. He promises not to take away our pains, but to carry the burdens for us and to journey with us through this broken world.
I’ve been thinking a lot, too, about the apostle Paul’s words in his letter to believers in Philippi. Sitting in a dusty prison cell, he wrote: “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
More times than I care to count, I’ve seen that passage linked to our momentary accomplishments. Certainly God rejoices with us in our achievements, but that’s not the “everything” Paul was talking about.
Paul’s everything — much like ours in this moment — was sorrow, anger, loneliness, anxiety, doubt, confusion, and a desperate hunger for hope. That was the everything God carried him through.
It was messy for Paul, and it’ll be messy for us. Some days, the journey involves just showing up. Other days, it means showing up for someone else. It means knowing your limits and trusting God to meet you in your weaknesses.
In all of it, though, Paul found peace because he trusted in one fundamental truth: he was able to endure his everything because he knew it was Christ who gave him the strength to face it.
May we wrestle well through our everything to find Paul’s peace in this troubled time, knowing the battle rages on but confident in the fact it is not forever.