Isolation Day 14: We had to call the fire department due to a “fault” alarm and the upstairs neighbors smelling something burning. We got three firetrucks, about half a dozen firemen (must have been a slow night for Bristol Fire) and ANOTHER HUMAN WAS IN OUR FLAT. They were wearing latex gloves and we had to perform that most intricate of ballets: the social distance dance. But, since none of us have any plans for tomorrow anyway (except perhaps a church service on youtube), no one’s too worried about the loss of sleep. The blessing and the curse of COVID.
Times are strange, my friends, and if you’re anything like me, it’s been a bit overwhelming to know how to handle it all. In some ways, it’s not all that different. I still have homework, I’m still in touch with friends and family. I’ve even had (digital) coffee or drinks with a few people, and a family movie night. In some ways, I cherish this time. For a brief moment, life is happening at real speed, not in fast forward. I get to see the sun every day instead of being stuck in class or a computer lab. (Responsibly, don’t worry. Only on my daily walk or into the garden.) People are being kind to each other. Rainbows and teddy bears have appeared in windows to encourage the world to hope and to entertain children walking around the neighborhoods. We cheer for our heroes. But in some ways, it’s horrible. The lack of physical touch is a bit painful. I miss dancing and laughing with friends and seeing other faces without looking through a screen. The number of cases climbs. The death toll rises.
For several days last week, it was all a bit too much. Faced with such an overwhelming crisis, I had no idea how to pray. I looked at the stats and cried. I asked God where He was, why we bother to pray if He isn’t going to do anything to help the world out. Where is His love right now? How am I supposed to continue praying when everything looks so bleak? And really, why bother?
I realized, eventually, that the burden of the whole world isn’t mine to carry. And that this is the first time in all of history when we would have felt any sense of responsibility for it. Although I’m incredibly thankful for the technology that allows me to stay in touch with family and friends and enables me to know that they’re safe and well, that gives our medical professionals a fighting chance by enabling them to quickly communicate information about the disease and send supplies and help where they’re needed, it’s a double-sided coin. On the flip side is the fact that for the first time in history, we know exactly how bleak the picture is. We can watch the numbers climb in real-time. We can see the disease approach us and our loved ones. We can mourn deaths that are happening half a world away. And that’s a lot to carry. A single person can’t carry the weight of over 1,000,000 cases, over 60,000 deaths. That’s taking “weep with them that weep” to a bit of an extreme. A single person can’t bear the burden of prayer for the entire world. The sad thing is it seems like a lot of Christians feel the need to. There are so many prayers floating around about “stopping the virus in its tracks” or “turning the tide.” Far be it from me to tell someone else not to pray those prayers, but if you’re finding those kinds of prayers difficult right now, let me assure you that that’s ok. I don’t believe we were ever meant to carry burdens that big.
Throughout all of history, Christians have prayed for their families, their communities, their spheres. And God has used this beautiful network to cover the whole world in prayer. We don’t need to worry about handling it all. God’s got it covered, I promise. I received some amazing advice last Sunday: find what YOU have the faith to pray for, and pray for that. It’s better to pray fervently and passionately about one thing than to burn yourself out and overwhelm yourself trying to pray massive prayers that you just don’t believe. I think that’s so important because we CANNOT afford to burn out right now.
In the garden, alone with God yesterday, I told Him I was struggling with continuing in prayer, and He said, “I know. But this is when I need you most.” This, brothers and sisters, is the heat of the battle. Of course we’re worn out. Of course we’re exhausted and beaten down and under pressure. That’s what happens when soldiers are fighting on the front lines. The struggle is so real haha. (I hope I’m not the only one feeling this way!!) It’s so tempting to take a break, to just enjoy huddling up with Netflix for a day or two. But now’s not the time for that. Now is the time to pray with everything we’ve got. Now when it’s looking bleak, now when it seems like our prayers aren’t having an effect, now in the midst of bad news, now after weeks of praying the same prayer over and over with no apparent answer, NOW is the time when the battle will be won. Find your prayers, then pray them without ceasing. And remember whom you’re praying to. He’ll never leave us or forsake us. He will always provide the way out “that we may be able to bear it.” I’ve been finding so much comfort in 2 Corinthians 4: 8 and 9 lately:
2 Corinthians 4: 8, 9 (ESV)
8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.
We are pressured, but He’ll never allow us to be crushed. We are confused, but He’ll never leave us without hope. We are pursued by a relentless enemy, but He’ll never abandon us. We are beaten up, but He’ll never allow us to be beaten. Keep fighting the good fight, friends!
Side note: I’ve officially been blogging for two years! How crazy is that?! Thank you to everyone who has been faithfully following! Love you all ❤