This past week I encountered a difficult topic numerous times: Death and dying.
People don’t like to talk about dying. No one wants to be reminded of the stark reality that one day we all reach our end. Mortality frightens us, and we shudder to think of not being around the people, places, and things that give life meaning. The idea of losing someone shakes us to our core. How can life possibly go on if the people closest to us are gone?
Before the pandemic pain, grief, loss, trauma – all the things that make life hard – were part of our experience. Now, though, the pandemic has intensified those hard parts so that when we go through them, they are just absolutely exhausting and soul-draining. A single traumatic event can cripple us emotionally, and we feel desperate and hopeless. This makes experiences like grief and loss even harder.
Over the past few days, during my morning message on the church Facebook page, I have been going through Psalm 34, which has some very encouraging words for anyone who feels like they are in a dark and lonely place:
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 34:4-8, 17-19)
What wonderful promises! If you are struggling to know the presence of God right now, read and reread those verses, and then turn to the Lord in prayer. Psalm 34 and many other scriptures promise that when we pray, God hears. I am also reminded of the promise we have in Romans 8. Paul reminds us that even death does not separate us from Christ. Why? Because, as he says, God’s gift to us is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38,39)
It is hard to lose anyone, and COVID-19 makes death a frightening possibility for all. As I read somewhere this past week, “You don’t catch Coronavirus, Coronavirus catches you!” It makes death more real than we could imagine. As children of God, we can trust God’s promises that he will always be with us here, now, and for eternity.