“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea”.
These days, lots of us can’t focus. We forget what day it is sometimes. Things that once came naturally to us seem unfamiliar and require concentration we don’t have. The ground beneath us is shaky. The danger is real. So is the dread of not knowing where the virus is.
We cope with it by paying loving attention to the details of daily life, observing the rules of confinement, sharing our resources, being patient and mustering hope and good cheer. This is what life is now, and it’s good. It’s also exhausting.
This is no time to be worried about finding the right words or looking good or getting a hundred on the quiz. It’s not the moment, if there ever was one, to prove anything to anyone. It’s a time to be real, and to let that be the good thing it is.
Unfortunately, this overabundance of information seems to have seeped into most of the church’s missives. We are told how to stay safe, how long we will have to continue this new routine, how to tune into the online worship services, and what the next steps might be. All a necessity, perhaps, but I wonder if there could be more.
The story of God becoming man, entering into our pain and suffering for no other reason than he loves us, still speaks to me even and especially in a pandemic. I long to hear the universal church proclaim Jesus’ words in Matthew, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
People sick, people dying, people losing jobs, people going hungry—the Church needs to know and do all it can to alleviate this suffering. No question about it. The Church also needs to be telling the good news that God is always with us, especially in our suffering.
The Psalmist tells us that the Lord knows when we cry and keeps all of our tears in a bottle. Isaiah 42:3 also says poetically, “A bruised reed will he not break, and a dimly burning wick will he not quench.” And even Jesus himself told us, “In this world you will have trouble; but take heart, I have overcome the world.”
I want the Church to share a little more hope, a little more Jesus. The world needs hope and Jesus brings it. Maybe then we can see the rainbow after the storm. We’re always reminded in sermons that we, the people, are the Church, so maybe we all should go tell it on the mountain. Or—at least—from our driveways, sidewalks, and living rooms while we are still hanging close to home.
Father, help us to focus our attention on Jesus and his gospel message. Teach us to speak Jesus to one another as we labor to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Teach us to speak Jesus in our households and in the markets and on our streets and to ourselves. We need Jesus.
Come, Lord Jesus!