It has been more than a month now that we have been sequestered at home, allowed to leave only for necessities. In the beginning we were upbeat, willing participants in the noble goal of protecting the vulnerable. Our town and many others joined together to support and help each other through this terrible time. Masks were sewn, food was shared, essential workers honored among us.
Now, though, attitudes are changing. You can see it in the pinched look on faces in the grocery store, hear it in the return to anger and blame on our social media pages. Scam artists have come up with clever new schemes to defraud us. Hoarders empty store shelves of necessities. Conspiracy theories are gaining traction.
We are becoming suspicious, resentful, fault finders on a mission of placing blame. We are angry at our government for not being able to solve this, and solve it quickly.
We are turning from battling this unseen enemy together, to battling each other.
All of this in the course of six weeks.
The root of our anger, of course, lies in the frightening realization that we cannot control our circumstances. So far there is no cure for this virus, no prevention, and no eradication in sight. We resent being forced to acknowledge that there is something beyond the ability of science or ingenuity to solve. We are helpless in the face of something more powerful.
Covid-19 does more than attack the lungs. It exposes our hearts.
So what do we do, in the face of these circumstances that are beyond our control? How do we deal with the anger and fear simmering in our guts?
“God is our refuge and strength”, it says in Psalm 46, “an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
We studied Revelation 1 in our home Bible study last week, and I’m captured by the glorious, almighty, awe-inspiring, fearsome picture of Jesus described there by the author John. It was so overwhelming, John said, that he fell at His feet “as though dead”. What happened next is what amazes me. “He placed his right hand on me and and said: Do not be afraid.”
Can you picture this moment? The all-powerful, glorified One with “eyes like blazing fire”, John says….stooping down to lay His hand on a very frightened John. Stooping down to touch and strengthen and comfort His servant.
“Do not be afraid,” He said.
750 years before this incredible scene in Revelation, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah: “For this is what the high and lofty One says – he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. ‘” (Isaiah 57:15)
He stoops. He revives.
Psalm 46 continues: “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
In our discontent and discouragement – be still.
In our frustration and blaming – be still.
In our fear and anxiety – be still.
Be still and know that there is One who stoops to comfort us; One who is a refuge and strength for our souls.
He is God.