The unknown. Humans have an innate desire to know things. What makes the earth spin? How do the stars hang in the sky? How does the caterpillar become a butterfly? Our world is full of mysteries waiting to be solved, unknowns to make known. What do we do when the unknown is dark and frightening? How do we approach understanding? How do we overcome fear?
As I write this today, our world is facing an unknown that is threatening all of humankind; a silent fog enveloping life as we know it causing fear, anxiety, pain, loneliness and even death. The fog is a pandemic, a new virus with a strength and speed like nothing we’ve seen in our lifetimes, moving from house to house, city to city, country to country, changing and taking lives as it goes. We have been isolated in our homes, quarantined, asked to avoid close or physical contact with others in order to prevent its spread. A wise, but difficult decision for the world leaders to make, and even more difficult for us as we rightly comply.
Humans are naturally social, made to interact closely with one another. Isolation, self imposed or otherwise, is difficult. And this isolation is feeding us. Feeding our anxiety, our fear of being alone – it is feeding our fear of death itself. Speaking for myself, I have never been isolated from my family and friends for a long period, and this isolation is feeding my tendency towards depression. I imagine there are many of us who are struggling through anxiety, fear, and depression right now. I believe right now we are all struggling at the same time, with the same things.
Yesterday morning as I read my devotional, it dawned on me that I was allowing depression to take a deep hold on me. I realized that I was struggling to talk with God, struggling to read the Bible, both things that usually fill me with immense joy. The devotional led me to read Ephesians and these words leapt off the page “In him, and through faith in him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (3:12) Then I read Psalm 64, “Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint, protect my life from the threat of an enemy.” (v.1) Later I listened to a man tell of God sending him a messenger of hope while he was isolated in the hospital, unable to be with his family and uncertain if he would survive. As I contemplated these three things, I knew that God was reminding me to put my trust Him. That He wants us to pour all our fears on Him. He will always listen when we cry out, and He will send the help we need to lift us, if we just trust in Him.
I have seen the Lord working in our lives and our communities. Churches are finding ways to meet and hold services online, Bible studies are being held on conference calls, Sunday School classes are using video conferencing so participants can see one another while they learn together. People are reaching out to their neighbors to offer assistance with shopping or just to make sure they are OK. On a recent Bible study conference call, the pastor asked if anyone wanted to share prayer requests or scripture and many did. But it was a woman breaking into this song that overwhelmed me with the love of God through the unknowns.
I feel like God is reminding the world that we are family – a large, unique, goofy family spread all over the world, and He is reminding us of the importance of selflessness, goodness, compassion – He is reminding us to love one another. And He is reminding us to put our trust in Him.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust and am not afraid. Psalm 56: 3-4