A grenade exploded. COVID-19. And through the embers and debris, our world became almost unrecognizable. Like I had entered an episode of The Twilight Zone.
In this new world, people's stories swirl in my brain in a never-ending cycle.
A friend whose pain is growing almost intolerable because she no longer has access to her physical therapy.
A young farmer dressed in a soft blue flannel and cowboy hat in tears as he loses the farm that has been in his family for generations.
Nurses and doctors in New York in their scrubs, exhausted and overwhelmed. Just when they think they have the treatment for this new virus figured out, another precious life slips away.
A dad sits outside crying, pain in his eyes, as he shares with the world how his son just took his life from the isolation and despair.
A couple embraces each other in defeat and tears as they see their small business they worked so hard to build slip away.
Families pouring out their worry over losing their home and wondering how they will feed their children.
A woman whose mom's health is deteriorating in the nursing home. She is told she is crying and confused, wondering why no one is visiting her. The daughter's heart is broken. She wants to embrace and comfort this dear soul who raised her and fears she may never get that chance.
A neighbor whose grandma was the life of the party and impacted many lives with her care leaves this world and friends are not allowed to celebrate her life or find closure. He is both angry and heartbroken.
A daughter whose mom's cancerous tumor is growing but her surgery was ruled nonessential. Worry is eating her alive.
Another mom desperate and heartbroken as her son's surgery was cancelled on his brain tumor. His seizures have increased leaving him with more brain injury each time.
Potatoes, fruits and vegetables are shown rotting in groves and fields. In farm country, truckloads of milk are poured out, hundreds of thousands of pigs slaughtered and beef farmers told to scale down, while the food lines are simultaneously growing to new levels.
A father is arrested for playing catch with his son in their backyard and many other citizens for not following their governor's new rules, while those with long criminal records are being released.
Leaders debate how to test, treat and track us; whether to reopen and what that should look like. I watch wondering which ones really care about us and which ones are using this to grow their power.
People stand or drive outside their capitol with signs; they feel like their stories don't matter and aren't being heard; they worry about their freedoms being taken away and what world we are creating for our children; for not being allowed to buy seeds to plant, open their business safely, treat their patients, visit sick loved ones… So many reasons out of pain, fear and passion. Yet the media paints them as selfish.
I watch friends turn on friends, family on family, neighbor on neighbor because of differing beliefs, fears and realities.
Around the world I see children and adults getting beaten by security for not following the new rules. Children in Spain locked up inside for almost two months. Christians experiencing increased persecution.
People's stories are important. They need to be heard. No matter how painful that is.
There are days I contemplate ignoring it all, to sit by the fireplace with a good book; but I know that is not what I am called to do.
Instead, when my soul starts to feel overwhelmed by all these stories and by trying to understand all the why's, I go for a walk and listen to his still quiet voice.
I crank worship music in my kitchen and lift my face and arms in the air towards his throne, where I remember who is ultimately in control.
In these moments, God reminds me who he is. The ever-present, all-knowing, never-changing, beginning and end, the I Am, and savior of the world. That I can lay my burdens before him because he says he is my rock and fortress, an ever-present help in time of need.
That he has promised his comfort, guidance, strength, and wisdom. And he never disappoints. He is faithful.
I call out his most precious name to me: Father. And I remember that I am his daughter and he loves me. I picture climbing into his lap and snuggling in.
Other times God shows me just the right Bible verses for what I need, or a dear friend texts just at the right time.
I pray regularly with my sister-in-laws through a computer app and I feel his presence surround me.
He fills me up so I can say again, "God, I'm ready. Let's do this. Guide me in what you want me to do today. Help me to know when to listen, offer encouragement, be hands-on help, speak truth, or stand up to injustice. Let me know whom I need to pray for or reach out to."
I am encouraged watching my brothers and sisters in Christ be the hands and feet of Jesus. How all parts of the body of Christ are functioning differently during this time. How beautiful it is to watch.
The owner of Heartmatters posts beautiful photos of nature that nurture my soul and remind me he is still in the business of growing things; others sing songs of hope in the streets or through computer apps; still others shop for the elderly or care for the sick.
If you are feeling weary, overwhelmed or discouraged, I hope you run into the arms of the One who loves you more than you can comprehend. The creator of the universe longs to be your loving Father.
We want to hear your story. Your story matters. How are you navigating these times? How can we pray for you?
Why are you in despair, O my soul? Why have you become restless and disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him. The help of my countenance and my God. Psalms 42:11 (AMP)