Restless Troops

Gratitude Day 442

Mon., Apr. 20, 2020

Psalm 40:1: I put all my hope in the Lord. He leaned down to me; he listened to my cry for help.

As COVID-19 continues, I feel the troops getting restless.

We are a good month now into living with a pesky virus that has changed ALL of our lives. With each day and week that goes by, it seems people are wearing out. Those who work at a hospital, clinic or care facility, are overwhelmed with caring for people. Some are treating COVID-19 patients. Some are trying to keep other patients safe. Some work at an in-patient care facility where there may or may not be infected people.

These folks question how they can keep family members safe or not become infected themselves. They have become a single package of care giver and family, providing love and support as they are the only ones able to do so. The extra-ordinary measures hospitals and care facilities are extending are incredible. Yet, we are often critical with what we consider sub-par care in overwhelming situations. I stand in awe of these people and know that I probably would muck up things even more so if roles were reversed.

It is impossible to find someone who does not know someone who has been financially impacted by this pandemic. We hear the staggering unemployment numbers and realize how far reaching this is.

I live in a state that recently extended its state-in-place measures for another month. Another group of people are expressing their dislike for these continued orders and are drawing attention to this.

I recently saw this diagram and realized that it might articulate how group of people feel stuck in the middle. People who empathize with more than one voice and feel overwhelmed with all that is going on.

When a crisis like we are experiencing happens, human nature causes us to take a stand where we are affected the most. For those involved in caring for people, this becomes the lens through which they interpret events. A person who is unemployed, lost their job or had to close their small business, this becomes their window of observation. For those most concerned about their individual rights, well, this rises to the top.

I know people who have had COVID-19 and recovered. I also know people whose family members did not make it. If you still question whether COVID-19 is different from the flu, Google “New York City COVID-19 images.” Carefully look at the images. The photos of refrigerated trucks turned into morgues makes my heart break.

Refrigerated trailers are seen parked at the site of a makeshift morgue being built in New York, Wednesday, March 25, 2020. New York officials are keeping a close eye on already-stressed hospitals as the number of cases is projected to rise for perhaps three more weeks. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

This could happen in our state or community as well. I think of 90-something Dolly, who has asthma and must protect herself. One wrong person in her presence could be devastating. Just as heart breaking are the countless small business owners who question next steps and feel awful about laying people off.

In true disclosure, Hubby Rick and I know we fall into the group that could be labeled as “some of the least affected people.” While some things are different, the lasting impact for us at this time is much less significant than for millions of others. We are also very much aware that this could change in an instant.

Most often, we interpret this pandemic crisis through whatever situation has made it personal for us. Someone in your family becomes ill. Is a front-line worker. Had to close their business or apply for unemployment. Suddenly, we see the flaws in our current system and describe how the “system” is failing. I do this as well.

Here is the deal: no matter how prepared we could or should have been, knowing how to respond in a pandemic crisis is new for most of us. For nearly all Americans, this is the first situation of this magnitude that we have lived through. And we do not know how to do it. We’re learning as we go. Most people have been patient for weeks. But as time goes on, troops are getting restless. We begin exhibiting behavior that is less than flattering.

Over the weekend, folks gathered for a rally requesting that non-essential businesses be reopened. They fear an economy shuttered for several more weeks will be more devastating than the virus itself. Rick and I were horrified as we saw images with people standing very close to each other, hugging, and shaking hands. Hospital workers drove by the rally on their way to work just a few blocks away to care for COVID-19 patients. What happens if there is an influx of people needing in-hospital care and choices must be made about who can be intubated?

So, how ARE we to respond with restless troops? As a Christian, I go back to the core tenants of my faith. Christian community is one of those beliefs. Jesus made this clear when he said the second most important command is to love our neighbors just how we want to be loved. One way we do this is by setting aside our own priorities and views for the greater good of the larger community. If ever there was a time when this is necessary, it is during a pandemic crisis.

This is when our individual needs are not more important than extending compassion and empathy to the least among us. Jesus said it eloquently when he shared that when we do something for someone who has a need, it is as if we are doing this directly for God. Whether this person is hungry or sick or thirsty or needs a friend, when we stand in the gap and provide this need, we have offered this directly to God.

I wish that all of us restless troops would take a minute to see where we might build up God’s kingdom by quietly helping someone. Imagine the impact our combined efforts could make, versus putting this energy into actions that divide us and hurt our neighbor.

Carefully read these words. Can we do our best to implement them in our daily lives?

Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say.

– Ephesians 4:29

For restless troops, it is easy to become frustrated. We see simple and easy solutions that may or may not work. Truth is, I’m not sure any of us could really know what is best to do; except Jesus himself.

Can we unite and commit to stick together? NO. MATTER. WHAT. Loving our neighbor is absolutely more important than ever. Sometimes loving our neighbor means setting aside our own personal perspective and discovering someone else’s is just as vital.

This also means letting go of fear and instead, grasping onto hope. When fear becomes the lens through which we interpret life, the results are different from when we let the hope of God hear our cry for help.

It was June of 1940. World War II had broken out in Europe. Winston Churchill had been Prime Minister of Britain for about a month when he gave a significant speech to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. He closed the famous speech with these words:

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”

Folks: we have an opportunity to make this our finest hour. For this to happen, restless troops must decide that loving their neighbor in the best way possible is our highest priority. Likewise, we intentionally choose God’s hope over fear. If we allow this to happen, we can move towards making this our finest hour.

For hope that comes from God, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dear God – forgive us, the restless troops, and our decision to turn our eyes towards ourselves and what we think is best, rather than keeping our eyes glued on You. Please replace our fear with hope. Instill within us a deep desire to fully love our neighbor. Stretch us so this will be our finest hour.

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