Check-in time! How are you doing? Surviving? Just about surviving? Or maybe thriving? One night this week (I can’t remember which as they all feel the same) I remember lying in bed ready to go to sleep and thinking how the next day was likely to be much the same as the day just gone and the day before that, I was overcome with a strange sense of monotony. I actually enjoy my days but while they are different, they are pretty similar. I think many of us have been feeling that and we are under pressure; each of us in our own way. It might be that we are at home trying to work and school the children, or that we are locked in our houses on our own feeling bored and lonely. We may be locked in with the same people day after day after day and losing our mind. It seems we are all dealing with the pressure in different ways. Some people seem to be soaking up the daily news and becoming filled with anger or fear, raising their levels of anxiety. We are in many ways powerless over our circumstances and are all seeking ways to gain some semblance of control over our lives. We can do it without realising we are doing it, we think we are doing something very reasonable, like criticising people who do not see the world the same ways as we do, but really it is a way of finding control, expressing our fear or justifying our feelings. I think patience and thoughtfulness are the best tools we can use at this time.
It seems that much of the panic we are feeling personally or collectively surrounds our healthcare system. Seeing our wonderful healthcare workers stretched to breaking point is gut wrenching, my own admiration for those on the front line cannot be expressed, nor can my sense of sadness that they are in that situation. Seeing so many people suffering heartbreak is quite overwhelming. Even if our hospitals are holding up under the strain, there is also a realisation that many treatments for other conditions are likely to be delayed and that a long backlog could build up, understandably that fills many with a sense of unease. The amazing news in all of this is the development of the vaccines and the phenomenal roll out that is taking place but the effort to treat COVID patients and vaccinate the rest of us is taking almost all the effort of the NHS.
This is probably the closest many of us are likely to come to the concept of ‘total war’. This is a phrase used to describe a situation like the Second World War where every resource of the nation was put into fighting the war, from the nation’s diet to what freedom people had. Hold that in contrast to the conflicts in Afghanistan where our soldiers fought but our lives carried on as normal. Now much of the resources of our health care system are being focussed on treating or preventing COVID. While it is admirable, you could be forgiven for finding it a bit frightening too. Our normal lives have been shut down too to preserve our hospitals from collapse. In a sense it is total war, no life is left unaffected. The impact of these consecutive lockdowns will be felt for years to come. Last March coronavirus felt like a health emergency, now it has turned into a full-scale crisis.
COVID affects the body, lockdown affects the mind and faith affects the soul. As followers of Jesus, we are called at every given moment to be strengthening our faith, our spiritual condition is essential to our wellbeing. Our relationship with God is by degree more important than our physical or mental health. I say by degree because both of those are critical and for people to suffer in either way can be horrific but our spiritual life effects not just this life, but our eternal life and we have to prioritise it above all things. Jesus makes this clear in Matthew’s Gospel 6:33 where he says ‘Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well’. Things feel pretty tough at the moment and there seems to be no sign of an end, we are under pressure, but turn to God, Jesus is there. Our Heavenly Father is holding each of us in his loving gaze. Trust in him and let him carry your burdens. ‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’ Mt 11.29.