We are all sick and need to come to God to receive his mercy, forgiveness, healing, and salvation.
During this time of unusual restriction to our lives, we need to attend closely to our personal health, especially those among us who are more at risk. This does not mean that we avoid coming to church, to experience the Divine Liturgy and receive the Holy Sacraments. We are asked to be aware of the risks, even minimal of gathering and take precautions.
Please remember that we are to serve God above all else. We are to acquire His Spirit of peace and bring salvation to all. Let us love one another in response to the love God has and is providing for us.
These events regarding COVID could be described as traumatic. This is strong language. I have noticed many are experiencing strong emotions as we are forced to contend with such extreme measures from our health authorities, our governments, and from our church. There is anger. There is fear. There is sadness.
The anger is very real. In the context where we understand anger to be a natural healthy response to unfairness, it is important to take ownership of our anger and to look for a way to process this powerful emotion and understand ourselves more deeply. There is nothing wrong with anger. God created us with this emotion and all our emotions. If our anger causes us to act in a sinful way, we need to acknowledge this behaviour, repent, and receive forgiveness. The problem is not with the emotion. It is with the actions and behaviours we choose. One of my greatest concerns is when we choose to contain the anger within ourselves. We can easily become toxic and bitter. When we are no longer able to contain the power and energy behind the emotion, especially when anger is complicated with fear, the hurtful words that suddenly come out of our mouths can cause harm. The most vulnerable are those who are close and people we love deeply.
Fear is also very real. Even if we consider at this time, we are only a little bit anxious because we do not know when our lives will return to “normal.” We are concerned with the damage the restrictive policies have caused our economy. Our ability to provide for our families in a safe manner is compromised. Fear or anxiety is also an emotion God has given us. Fear is not bad or evil. When we have the courage to accept the reality of our fears, we can plan an appropriate response. If we think of fear as a natural healthy response to danger, we have a remarkably simple solution. Go to safety. When the fear is identified we move to a safe place. The danger is still present, but because of our action, we have removed ourselves from harm. Fear is an important emotion. It keeps us alive. Fear warns us of danger and gives energy to move us to safety.
Sadness is a natural healthy response to loss. The loss of receiving the Holy Sacraments in a manner that is familiar is a loss. The restriction to meeting as a community to provide social interaction regularly is a loss. The total cancellation of sharing meals after Divine Liturgy is a loss. These are examples of losses that affect us. This is not the complete list. I am sad because I do not accomplish all the tasks, I am responsible to do on a regular basis. I am overwhelmed sometimes by the enormity of my personal suffering, the suffering of this community, the suffering of friends and family, and suffering in the Church as a whole.
When we find ourselves in uncomfortable times it is immensely helpful to ask God “what are you teaching me at this time?” It is also helpful to cry out to God.
From the Psalmist (Psalm 12)(LXX Psalm 13):
How long, Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
Our only hope is with God. God’s grace, compassion, love, forgiveness, and healing power are what give us the hope that can bring strength to our lives. It is not our strength, but the strength of God. We have an opportunity to look more deeply into our souls and discover how God works within us.
Let us pray for one another and glorify God.
Previously published in The Clarion