I don’t want to write tonight. I feel like I’ve proven my point - I’ve written consistently for 33 nights and tonight, I feel done. I want to keep watching The Office, or maybe even to watch Salt with my husband (how will Angelina get herself out of this mess??) I want to color in an adult coloring book while drinking another adult drink and forget what’s happening outside and that there’s nothing I can do to help.
Because tonight, writing just doesn’t feel like enough. I read a blog post a few days ago by a Creative Pastor who urged each of us to do what we are called and able to do in this time - to give, to serve, to create - whatever God has gifted us to do, to do that thing with all of our hearts. But she was also honest that being creative felt like a lesser gift in this season, and I certainly feel that way tonight. I can’t sew, I can’t science, I can’t help heal - all I can do is string words together in sentences, and how is that actually helping? The helplessness is tangible, and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s feeling helpless.
But it gets me wondering - does everyone feel that way in the Time of Coronavirus?
Do doctors and nurses feel helpless - able to react, but not to prevent? Do teachers feel helpless, trying to provide structure and knowledge in a time of chaos and upheaval? Pastors? Grocery store clerks? Hairdressers? I imagine that in some way, everyone feels like they wish there was more they could do to not just mitigate the effects of this pandemic, but to stop the thing in its tracks. But until a team of scientists figures out a vaccine or a treatment, maybe we’re all in the same boat, wanting desperately to do more and knowing that there isn’t more to do.
It’s a weird place to live - to be ready to go to the hospital and throw down with some security guards and administrators over policies you disagree with (I came pretty close to going full John Q today), but to know that the best course of action for everyone involved is just to wait. And unfortunately, it’s just the way it is. That’s not to say there is nothing we can do proactively, of course, but that nearly all of our responses in this season are local - helpful and beautiful and necessary, making positive changes in our spheres - but in some ways frustrating because we can’t see those actions move the needle as we would like them to. We are stuck in a state of forced helplessness - we help by not helping.
There are, sadly, no easy answers here - but it does have me reflecting on the nature of help and thinking about Psalm 121:
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
It’s a good feeling to know that we can be used as Jesus’ hands and feet, the provision of His help to others. But it’s also good to remember that when we are unable to help in the ways that make us feel helpful, He is the true source of help. He created life itself - all things above, all things on earth, the cogs and the gears and the wheels that make life spin. When I cannot help, He still can.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
Jesus isn’t sleeping. He’s not far away. He won’t come back from vacation and be surprised at what’s going on in the world. I know for many it begs the question, "Then why does He let it happen at all?” But I don’t think it works that way. He created the world and set it in motion. Of course He can intervene and often does - but cause and effect are real, science is real, epidemiology is real, and life is broken. Sometimes our systems play out in really terrible ways because they are exactly that - systems with starts and endings and paths that are followed and outcomes that inevitably result. The promise is not that He will always miraculously intervene, but that when we feel the weight of these broken systems, He is still near.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
It’s not that the sun won’t shine, that it won’t be excruciatingly hot - but that God is there to shade us. We may still feel the heat, sweat profusely, be wildly uncomfortable, thirst. But we are covered, protected.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
From this time - the Time of Coronavirus - forth and forevermore. He is not absent, nor has He ever been. If he is my help throughout eternity, I can trust that that promise stands for all those I love and would die to protect. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this is easy or that everyone will come out unscathed - we know that isn’t the case. The outcomes aren’t always understandable or fair or happy - and I wish they were. But our Help is unmatched, unbreakable, all powerful, and all loving.
When we feel helpless, there is still one thing we can do - lift our eyes to the hills. Our true Help will arrive.