Life has always been uncertain. We may have thought we were controlling our life, but the reality is we have never known or controlled our next hour, day, or year.
We used to make plans to meet with our friends for a walk or coffee, look forward to the next weekend’s activities, wonder who we will meet and marry, visit our elders, plan vacations months in advance, and dream about a job change or what to do when we retire.
That has all changed.
Now we are thrilled to talk with people on Facetime or Zoom, even more so to be WITH someone (at a distance) we don’t live with. Taking a walk in the sunshine is invigorating. Yet we wonder how safe it is to go to the grocery store.
If we are juggling work and school at home or on-line, we see our need to give grace and patience daily to those closest to us. We mourn not being able to visit our elders – except through windows – which worked better in warmer weather. We are thankful for the jobs we have when many are without. If we have started a new job, how do we get to know, much less become friends, with our co-workers?
We have friends who have had COVID and recovered. Some are mourning family and friends who have died. The pandemic has swirled closer to us rather than going away.
How can we cope with new levels of fear and anxiety as the first anniversary of the shutdown approaches? A year already!
Even though our latest conversations center on the vaccines, when will we feel settled or safe? Where can we turn for solid answers?
The Bible is a source of great truth and hope in the midst of uncertainty. It acknowledges that we can’t and don’t control our future, a fact we generally avoid. The Bible offers us wise counsel and even humorous commentary on our former expectations.
“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)
We all have great uncertainties. Some find it helpful to stop their worries from floating around in their heads by listing them onto a piece of paper. Physically handing the list over to the Lord who offers peace in the midst of the storms of life, the Rock we cling to, and the Shepherd who leads us to still waters and walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death, reminds us of who is ultimately in control.
Frederick Buechner reflects on Shakespeare’s King Lear when he is out in a storm:
“Beneath our clothes, our reputations, our pretensions, beneath our religion or lack of it, we are all vulnerable both to the storm without and to the storm within, and if ever we are to find true shelter, it is with the recognition of our tragic nakedness and need for true shelter that we have to start.” Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy & Fairy Tale, 33.
Covid offers us an opportunity to recognize our need and to start . . . and to restart each day.