BY SYDNEY EDERER
Our world has gone through a whirl-wind of change in mere weeks with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In hopes of being transparent, I have to admit all the chaos and frenzy has affected me more than I would have anticipated. While I am easily prone to anxiety, mental and emotional distress (many of you may be able to relate), I also know I have a choice in how I react to situations like this.
I can allow the chaos to consume me and become a mental burden, or I can choose a more fulfilling alternative. I can’t sit here and tell you all that I will be able to choose the fulfilling alternatives without fail. I have already proven that to be false these past 48 hours! However, I can make a promise to myself, the people I love, and to Jesus that I will do my very best and try again when I find myself off track.
This past week, I have been reminded that prayer is the first place I should turn. One night as I tried to fall asleep, I prayed that Jesus would show me how he reacts to illnesses like this Coronavirus outbreak. I know without a doubt our God is a God of healing, but I also wanted to try to better understand how He is present in all of this.
During this prayer, a story in the Book of Mark popped immediately came to mind. I am not typically gifted with a mind that serves as a biblical encyclopedia, but for some reason this story came to me so clearly.
Mark 5:21-43 details the story of Jesus being asked by a synagogue leader to come heal his dying daughter. Jesus immediately follows the leader to his home, but he gets interrupted by a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. He takes time to stop the rush to the leader’s house in order to acknowledge this woman’s faith in him, and affirm her healing in front of all who could hear. He goes on to heal the leader’s daughter as well, welcoming the interruption from the woman while simultaneously completing the task he initially set out for.
I asked Jesus to help me understand how he responds to illness, and I believe he reminded me of this story to show me one way he responds: by allowing the interruptions. Not only did he allow the interruption from the bleeding woman, but he invited her closer to him and used her story to teach lessons about healing, faith, and so much more to everyone around them.
If we can’t buy toilet paper, go to concerts, or publicly celebrate birthdays, let alone predict the next 24 hours, maybe the only thing we can do is allow the interruptions this pandemic is creating.
INTERRUPTIONS TURNED BLESSINGS
A few ways I’ve seen interruptions become blessings during this time:
FAMILY TIME. Schools are closed and many adults being asked to work from home, so families are being forced to spend all day, every day together! They are discovering new ways to learn and grow together, spending quality time that can easily get pushed aside during our normal busy lives. If you are “stuck” in a home full of your family during this time, I pray you don’t take it for granted. Maybe this family time is exactly what we all needed.
REST. Our lifestyles have become filled with busy, busy, and more busy. For the first time in who knows how long, most of us don’t have a choice but to stay home. Hopefully, this results in more down time, fewer demands, and more sleep! I would encourage all of us to embrace it now, because as soon as this ends we might find ourselves right back into the fast-paced lifestyle that has become second nature. Take some time to draw, write, garden or simply binge watch all your favorite shows… and please, please, please, don’t forget we have a God who loves to spend restful time with you!
CARE FOR THE ELDERLY. Growing up, many of our parents drilled the phrase “respect your elders” into us! I have seen so many posts on social media of younger generations offering their time to grocery shop for the elderly who are at a much higher risk than themselves. People are speaking up in compassion for those who are more susceptible to the negative repercussions of this virus. I am grateful for the way I have seen people come together during this time. Even when we can’t physically join hands, at the very least we can witness how true compassion and real relationships don’t end just because our social lives get put on hold.
RESPECT FOR FIRST RESPONDERS and everyone on the front lines of this outbreak! Unlike the rest of us who are able to remain in the safety of our homes, even if we do not want to, our first responders are the ones leaving their homes to serve our community during this time. In addition, cashiers, pharmacists, janitors, nurses and doctors are coming into direct contact with the pandemic by mere definition of their careers. If wildfires, terminal diseases, and long lines of cranky customers have not already deepened our respect for those mentioned above, then the Coronavirus serves as an incredible opportunity to thank these heroes for their sacrifice. They are the hands and feet of Jesus whether or not they are aware of it.
CHALLENGE FOR THIS WEEK
I’d like to challenge you to change your perspective the next time you scroll through social media. Look for the interruptions and allow them to show you where Jesus’ movement is spreading (even when it feels like the only thing spreading is COVID-19). I obviously have no idea how or when this chaos and frenzy will end, but I do know that if I end up left with no toilet paper, no physical contact with the ones I love, and no steady income – I will still be left with the One who promises healing and is worthy of my faithful heart.
We tend to be disgruntled by interruptions in our daily lives, but maybe interruptions aren’t such a bad thing after all! My prayer tonight is that I will follow Jesus’ pattern in Mark 5 by allowing the interruptions during this time of unknowns. Join me in asking yourself, “What is Jesus trying to interrupt me with?”