The presence of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus) and COVID-19 (the disease) in our communities are phenomena that are not just causing anxiety. They are revealing it. They are drawing back the curtain on who we already are. I don’t need to go into all the ways our lives are being and will likely continue to be disrupted by their presence over the next several days and weeks, perhaps even months or longer. Some of those disruptions are minor; some may be permanently life-altering or life-threatening. And, of course, we immediately want answers to the questions of what we should do.”Love and Lament in March Madness, Dr. Curt Thompson
Several years ago, I had a moment in which the meaning of the word, GOOD, was profoundly altered. You can read all about that, right here: DEFINING GOOD. It was a day in which my idea of GOOD and God’s idea of GOOD collided, head on. I walked away from that collision a different person.
I feel as if I am back in that same place, trying desperately to find the GOOD in this COVID-19 global pandemic.
And, now, it is GOOD FRIDAY. A day known worldwide, understood by all faith traditions, and very, very personal to me. It is a day when I pause to reflect on the death of a man I chose to follow 40 years ago.
The man called Jesus.
What I Believe During the COVID-19 PANDEMIC
I’m not as vocal with my faith as I’ve been in the past, but today, I believe we need to pause and reflect and perhaps consider where we are in our faith journey. I share the words of Dr. Curt Thompson as food for thought:
The virus and the disease, for all their genuinely disconcerting effects in the world, are not just about an illness that might do horrible things to some of us, including kill us–which it may. We might think that death of that sort–the death of our bodies–is what really frightens us. But here is where the virus is more than a deadly infection–it is also a revelation. For our fear is far more ancient and far deeper than the fear of our physical mortality. And, believe it or not, it is not mostly about a virus. Rather, the virus is shining a bright light on the heart of the matter, both interpersonally and neurobiologically, which we see more plainly when we read Jesus’ words, ‘I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after than can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.’ (Luke 12:4-7).
Please stay with me, here, for a few more minutes, as I continue with Dr. Thompson’s thoughts. They were COLD WATER to my ANXIOUS, PARCHED soul yesterday:
Here is where the GOOD news begins, running alongside the HARD news, and eventually outpacing it. I get the sense that Jesus is telling us to pay attention to God. Not, as in, make sure you do what you’re supposed to do; don’t screw up; don’t make mistakes; in essence, be afraid of God, or else. Or else he’ll send you to hell. No, rather, pay attention to–direct the attention of your fear to the one who has authority, the one who has authored your life. The one who knows you’re afraid and wants to hear about it and comfort you. The one who never forgets you.
Find the Good in Good Friday
That fateful day in 2012 when my idea of GOOD collided with God’s idea of GOOD wrecked me.
It was a very dark, sobering, difficult, lonely day. I wandered the corridor of the hospital for hours. To be honest, I was very angry with God. I didn’t want to be in that hospital dealing with yet another medical crisis with my mother.
But what I gleaned from those hours of wandering was exactly what Dr. Thompson suggests in his powerful essay:
I learned to “direct the attention of my fear to the one who has authority, the one who had authored my life. The one who knows I’m afraid and wants to hear about it and comfort me. The one who never forgets me.”
That was a hard-earned lesson. Not one I willingly, joyfully signed up for. No, it was placed upon me by a loving, good GOD who saw that day as GOOD FOR ME, and ultimately GOOD for everyone in my sphere of influence.
It revealed unhealthy, negative qualities and behaviors in my life that needed to be addressed. And, sometimes the only way they are addressed is in HARD TIMES where we are pushed to the edge of our self. A great theologian, F. B. Meyer, once said, “When we get to the end of ourselves, we get to the beginning of God.”
Today, on this GOOD Friday, I ask you to take a moment or two. We didn’t willingly or joyfully sign up for this global pandemic. We didn’t sign up for:
- “Homeschooling” our children,
- While working from home,
- With partners also working from home.
- Cooking and feeding and caring and entertaining and listening and loving.
- Disconnection with all things familiar and fun and faith-building.
Maybe you are angry. Maybe you are frustrated, scared out of your mind. I understand. I really do.
Be Willing to Learn From God
Do one thing today.
Open your heart and hands and at least be willing to learn from God. From his one and only Son who died so we can live. From the Holy Spirit, who empowers and comforts us as we wander our way to peace.
God is good, friends, he really is.
Because of that dark day when God redefined good for me, I am able to sit with others and offer them hope.
I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Right now, things don’t look GOOD and they really don’t feel GOOD, but press in and through until your wandering leads you to a deeper understanding of self and God.
It will be worth it. I promise.
More resources for you
- Read Dr. Curt Thompson’s entire essay: Love and Lament in March Madness
- Listen to Speak Healing Words Podcast for Emotional Health Tools: Speak Healing Words
- Join Stronger Every Day: A Heartlifting Community.
- Encourage your faith with this message by Lou Giglio: Where is God?
- Close your eyes and breathe in these words by The Brilliance: Oh Dreamer
Thank you, Janell for this very good word on Good Friday. We just finished a zoom home group meeting, and I confessed to Mark that I didn’t feel I was doing as well as others. That I was struggling with anxiety. Then I read this message. And I cried. Thank you for this very insightful and sensitive word
What a wonderful piece to read on “Good Friday”. As I have prayed during this time of uncertainty and fear, I have been seeking a new sense of renewal and welcoming the words of The Lord, “I am with you”. That reminder has imparted to my heart to delve deeply into my acceptance and belief of my salvation. ❤
I am just seeing this. Your words bring tears to my eyes. Thank you for taking the time to share them. Sometimes we find the greatest light in the darkest of nights. I believe and declare that you will hear God’s voice clearly.
Susan, Now your words make me cry! Please exercise self-compassion and grace to yourself, one of the hardest things to do, I understand. In all honesty, I can’t imagine anyone not experiencing some level or form of anxiety, and if and when we DO experience it, God understands (Hebrews 4:15).