A Year of Pain and Promise
On January 25th, 2020, Canada crossed a significant threshold. This date marked the one-year anniversary of the first reported case of COVID-19 in the country. Little did we know that with the announcement that this virus had breached our borders, we were about to face seismic shifts in our routines, relationships, and restfulness. What we knew as normal on January 24th quickly began to evaporate into thin air. A new normal emerged, altering our present and our future.
Along with this medical emergency, our world was rocked by racial tensions, political unrest, financial upheaval, and societal polarization. This has been a difficult year of loss and loneliness, but some powerful learnings as well. In the face of all the unknowns, we have learned some valuable and beautiful lessons that can shape us for the journey ahead.
Lesson 1: Mourning can’t be minimized
Although they are not popular topics, lament, grief, sadness, and mourning are a part of what it means to be human. Many people have lost jobs, relationships, and their sense of normalcy. Countless families had to say goodbye to precious loved ones in unconventional, unwelcome, and unfamiliar ways. These losses cannot be minimized. We need to mourn. The challenges of the past 12 months may have produced feelings that seem negative but, in fact, they are necessary. To grieve, we must pause, feel, remember, and resist the temptation to try to get over things. We have to move slowly and lovingly through these difficult moments. Lament is godly, sadness is healthy, and mourning is blessed. Jesus reminded us: “God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted (Matthew 5:4, NLT).” If you have experienced loss, give your heart permission to mourn. Feeling may be the beginning of your healing.
Feeling may be the beginning of your healing.
Lesson 2: Connection was craved
I’ve noticed the longer we were in lockdown, the greater our longing for coffee chats, family reunions, and good old handshakes and hugs. Things we often took for granted became a reminder that we were created for community. Even for introverts like me, community is not an option; it is essential. The human heart craves connection, and we need each other. The Apostle Paul reminded us that “just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other (Romans 12:4-5 NLT).” If you have craved connection in these long lonely months, don’t wait until COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror. Reach out to someone today who you’ve missed or with whom you’ve lost touch. Connection can be reciprocal. If we give it, we may just receive it.
If you have craved connection in these long lonely months, don’t wait until COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror.
Lesson 3: Waiting was not wasted
This past year may have seemed like one long pandemic pause, but maybe waiting is not all bad. We all look forward to when this will end so we can get back to all the things we have missed, but what if the waiting is right where God wants us to be. We know God does some of his best and most profound work in us in seasons of difficulty, fiery furnaces, lion’s dens, and raging storms. We cannot rush through these moments or try to take a shortcut on the journey as much as we would like to. If we did, we might miss all that he has been trying to tell us and teach us. It’s in the liminal space we learn trust and dependence. It’s in the pause we find his presence and purposes for us. David reminds us: “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord (Psalms 27:14, NLT).” God is with us, and he is working in us in the waiting. Let’s not be in a rush to get to the next thing. Maybe this moment is the thing.
God does some of his best and most profound work in us in seasons of difficulty, fiery furnaces, lion’s dens, and raging storms.
Lesson 4: Resilience became reality
In a year of untold levels of anxiety, stress, and pain, we saw the best of humanity rise to the surface. Neighbours looked after one another, essential workers became the real heroes, and ordinary people have stepped up to serve in extraordinary ways. In the face of adversity, a wave of adaptability was released that turned limitations into opportunity. Locked down became Zoomed in. Curbside pick-ups freed us from inside concerns. Online shopping and “Skip the Dishes” became, “Why didn’t we think of this sooner”! Humanity is creative and resilient. But why shouldn’t we be? The Creator designed us with this kind of creative genius. The words of the Apostle Paul have never been more relevant: “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13 NLT).” We’ve come through much, but we’re still here. There are likely more difficult days ahead, but his strength will infuse us with hope and resilience. We can do this!
Humanity is creative and resilient. But why shouldn’t we be? The Creator designed us with this kind of creative genius.
These past 12 months were not easy and in no way do these simple lessons reduce the magnitude of the moment. Our family faced the heartbreaking loss of loved ones, the anxiety of making major, life-altering decisions, the uncertainty of a lack of employment, difficult months of family separation, and the inconvenience of lockdowns and quarantines. But, we also learned the value of quiet times, personal wellness, spiritual wholeness, enjoying the little things, and making the most of every moment. We didn’t do it all perfectly, but we did it all persistently. We are not done with the pandemic yet, but what got us here may just get us there. COVID will end. God’s faithfulness is eternal. Hold on to hope and hold on to him: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalms 30:5, NKJV).”
We are not done with the pandemic yet, but what got us here may just get us there.