By Joy West
When my husband and I were dating, we enjoyed going to the lake and skipping rocks — and still do. We would search for small, smooth, disk-like stones, and angle the horizontal throwing position of the arm and trajectory to obtain the maximum number of skips on the water’s surface. Laughter and joy would grace this simple pleasure in nature, even though my husband usually won the challenge. Sometimes the rock would fall into the water without skipping, and the countless rings caused by the rock’s intrusion would quickly claim a large area.
The Covid pandemic has rocked our lives, shaking our foundation, and altering life-as-normal. We weren’t just hit with a small rock with gentle ripples, but experienced an avalanche of boulders crashing into the water, producing tsunami-like tidal-wave rings, modifying the existing shoreline.
We continue to grieve loss on many fronts, and some are very personal and close to home. Each individual number of the astronomical statistics of death, economic fallout, emotional crises, etc., represents a life, a personal story, a soul. God knows that number by name.
While I, too, grieve, I also choose to focus on what the pandemic has NOT taken away from me. Here are 5 things that have been shaken and tested — some days more than others.
1. My ANCHOR in God who is steadfast, changeless, a firm foundation, unmoved by circumstances. My life is anchored in God and in a daily, moment-by-moment abiding with Jesus. God is a changeless constant and the only One I can cling to in these turbulent waters that test my resolve and grip.
2. My HOPE and JOY in the source of HOPE: God. My word for 2020 was HOPE, a word that God placed into my heart in November 2019. And my word for 2021 is JOY. These words are not mere coincidences, because God knew what was to come and was laying the groundwork for a daily, victorious life.
3. My FREEDOM to give God praise and have an attitude of gratitude. This freedom is only limited if I yield to complaining and focus on my losses. God is worthy of my praise regardless of what is swirling madly around me. I may not be able to control most of my circumstances, but I can choose to maintain a grateful heart as I walk through them.
4. My ABILITY TO LEARN how to reach out to people differently. When circumstances and governments impose limitations and restrictions, God gives us creativity to connect with people and maintain relationships. I know what Zoom fatigue is, but I’m thankful for opportunities beyond the in-person meetings and church gatherings.
5. My choices for HEALTHY LIVING. I have the freedom and desire to eat healthily and exercise regularly. These physical disciplines directly affect my spiritual and emotional well-being.
I am truly looking forward to meeting people face-to-face again, to be able to indulge in a personal conversation over coffee and a pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tart)! But until this is possible, I continue to hold on to what has not been taken away from me, “deploying” hope, and rejoicing in God’s faithfulness.
Take a moment to think about things this pandemic has NOT taken away from you. Make your own list, or better yet, journal the things you have learned from this ongoing, difficult journey.
How have you grieved your losses?
What has been your best line of defense against falling victim to loss and discouragement?