Written by April Cowgill
It feels like a different lifetime ago that I led our congregation in the following prayer related to the worldwide spread of COVID-19:
Great Healer, Emmanuel. You are our refuge and strength, our great help in time of need. We pray for this world as we hear the numbers increase every day of the spread of the coronavirus.
We confess our tendency to either ignore reality or fall into the grip of fear. We confess our failure to cry out to you, our Father, who with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens.
We feel sad and powerless and we cry out to you in our distress. Please, O God of comfort, bind up the wounds of the brokenhearted, of those who have lost loved ones, of those currently infected, and of those who are quarantined.
We pray for the fear and anxiety so many people are living in. Would you help them and us to rightly order and incline our hearts to fear you above all? Would you in your mercy even use this to destroy the illusion that one can control one’s own life and destiny? And in so doing, prepare hearts and lives to be reconciled to you.
Our desire is that you would bring an end to this outbreak. Please help us to be diligent in what is ours to do to contain further spread. Give the medical community all over the world wisdom and stamina to be your provision of healing.
Thanks that you sit on the throne and we can with confidence say, “thy will be done.” We long for the time when our faith becomes clear sight, and when there is no more death or crying or pain.
Few of us probably imagined that in a matter of 2 weeks, schools and businesses would be closed and that our healthcare system and economy would be in such dire straits. It’s easy for me to feel consumed by this reality, but in the midst of these “hills”, God has been quick to remind me of His nearness and grace through the generosity of neighbors, friends sharing homeschool ideas, and technology that allows us to care for one another. Here are just a few examples of what God has used the past few weeks to “train my eyes” (as Pastor David shared during his sermon on Psalm 121) to see His goodness:
Last week my husband and I wrote up a very simple note to our neighbors to say “please let us know if you need help,” and then delivered those notes to mailboxes and apartment managers in our community. We’ve received several calls/emails since from neighbors to say “I want to help too!…Please tell me about needs you hear of!…I’m healthy and happy to run errands!…I’m a carpenter and happy to offer my services for free to those in need in our community!”
Another neighbor had the idea of a “Step out and wave” where we would all step out of our doors at 6:00 pm to wave at one another to be reminded that we’re not alone. Each night we get to have conversations (at a distance). We’ve bonded more in a week as a neighborhood than in the previous year. Here’s an example of what was posted on our neighborhood Facebook page to spread the word:
I sat down to plan for the second week of homeschooling my 6 and 3.5 year-olds and felt painfully aware of my inadequacy only to look up and see an email from a teacher friend saying “here are some ideas that could be fun to do with your daughter this week!”
At the hospital where I work, we feel exhausted and powerless. About three months ago some coworkers and I organized a “Pharmacy in Prayer” email group. It’s been God’s perfect timing in providing a virtual space “for such as time as this” to present the many needs we are feeling and seeing to the Lord who is able.
Though the danger of COVID-19 and my inadequacy are real, it is good for me to be reminded that I am not in control, that He sits on the throne, and that I have the privilege of bringing this news of hope to a hurting city. And so, as restrictions grow tighter and we bump up against our human limitation, when I ask my kids, “what is our only hope in life and death?” the answer is as much for my own heart as it is for theirs.
In this season I’m reminded that Lent is followed by Easter. Lament is appropriate but will not last forever. Sacrifice, suffering, and self-denial are not ends in themselves; they can somehow deepen our fellowship with our suffering savior.