COVID-19: Starting to Make Sense of What We’ve Been Through

COVID-19: Starting to Make Sense of What We’ve Been Through April 25, 2022

How many times did we hear the word “unprecedented” in the past 2 years?

Coronavirus, Virus, Mask, Corona, Pandemic, Outbreak

Image via Pixabay

I will note, as we go through today’s column, that we are not “through” COVID entirely, and there is an unpredictability to this virus that makes it hard to gauge what the days ahead will look like.

Still, compared to where we were at a year or even six months ago, things do feel better these days, and although there may be more waves to come, Lord willing we are through the worst of things.

I remember back in April 2020 hearing a high-ranking Christian health official in Canada say that we should expect it would take 1.5– 2 years for life to get back to some semblance of normal.

At the time, that seemed like a crazy prediction!

Wasn’t this all going to be over in a few weeks?!

And yet here we are. The man was right. We have never seen anything like this in our lifetime.

I am not writing this column to add stress or struggle to anyone’s life.

I know we’re all sick of COVID.

I know we are all exhausted.

I know emotions are still high.

I know we are all still “in it” to a certain extent.

I know we are are still paying the price of the past 2 years.

But my loving and pastoral challenge, as we seemingly see the light at the end of the tunnel, is that we all truly begin to take some intentional time for processing and soul-searching and reflection upon these past 2 years, for the purposes of growth, life, reconciliation, and healing.

If we’re being honest, we have been through something traumatic.

It may not be “war in the Ukraine” traumatic, as we often say similarly when trying to make sense of our struggles, but thinking that way also doesn’t help us deal with our pain.

It may help us to have some perspective, to be sure, but pain is pain, and trying to lessen it or explain it away helps no one and accomplishes nothing.

When we feel pain, it’s real, and it affects us, and that is that.

So let’s acknowledge that we’ve all been through something significant.

For everyone, this season has turned our lives and plans upside-down, rewritten our life scripts in various ways, affected our relationships, limited our rights and freedoms, and brought us into conflict with others.

For some of us, we have buried loved ones unexpectedly.

For others, it has afflicted us with the effects of long-term physical illness.

Still others have lost work or money or security or relationships.

Surely most of us have lost peace at some point or another.

For all of us, we have lost a lot of hope and joy in this season.

We have lost the world that we knew before COVID arrived.

For the rest of our lives, we will have stories that begin, “Remember back in COVID…” and anyone who lived through it will be right there with us.

We have lived through a global, monumental, world-shaking event.

As the emotion of this season begins to settle, and as we can begin to think a little more clearly and reflect, perhaps we can give some thought to this question:

What exactly happened to us back there?

What was going on inside you during these days?

Let’s think about the good stuff.

The bad stuff.

The ugly stuff.

The hopeful.

The disappointing.

The fear.

The anger.

The joys amidst the struggle.

The new lessons.

The new priorities.

The grieving.

The losses.

The broken relationships.

The new relationships.

The redeemed or redeeming relationships.

The highs.

The lows.

The everything-in-between.

So…

What exactly happened to us back there?

For myself, I am proud of many things.

I am also sad about many things.

I was hurt badly by others.

I am sure my decisions and words caused pain or struggle for others as well.

I saw the Church at its best in various moments.

I also saw a lot of, shall we say, “room for improvement.”

I felt lost at sea most of the time.

I’ve met many new and wonderful people.

I’ve lost some relationships as well and am mourning them.

I still don’t fully understand everything that was going on inside me.

And honestly, I am OK with that.

But I also want to understand more, at the same time.

Consider the beautiful simplicity of David’s prayer:

 

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

                                           (Psalm 139.23-24)

 

In other words, we don’t always know what’s going on in our own hearts.

But there is a God in Heaven who does, and who can help us.

Although it can be a scary thought to invite Almighty God to search our hearts, as not everything in there is good, He of course already knows, so there are already no secrets from Him.

The goal here is to let Him reveal to us what He already knows is in there, so that it can be healed and set free, and so that we can be led “in the way everlasting” (Ps 139.24).

There is a medieval Christian practice called “the examen,” (Latin for “the examination”), which takes on various forms and can be used in various ways.

The idea is that, at least once a day, you get quiet before the Lord, pray a prayer like David’s listed above, and do some self-examination and soul-searching in the safety of God’s presence.

It can look as simple as prayerfully reflecting on questions like these:

Where did I see God at work in my life today?

Where did I see the devil at work in my life today?

Where did I see my own flesh at work in my life today?

What can I give thanks to God for today?

What does God want me to do tomorrow?

So can we pray David’s prayer about the past 2 years, and can we ask similar questions of ourselves, that we might mature and grow, and find the everlasting way as we recover and move forward?

Where did I see God at work these past 2 years?

Where was the enemy at work in my life these past 2 years?

Where was my own flesh at work these past 2 years?  

What am I thankful for from the season of COVID?

What does God want me to do next, as I move forward?

I do not imagine that we will quickly master or move on from this past season.

It will take time, reflection, grace, and forgiveness, sharing in safe places with safe people, and actively pursuing God’s peace and His joy.

But there is opportunity for tremendous growth, redemption, healing, and restoration for any and all of us who are willing to invite the Lord into the process and let Him do His work in our souls as we move forward.

May God “repay the years the locusts have eaten,” (Joel 2.25).

May He heal and restore and set free hearts that have been hurting and captive.

May He lead us “in the way everlasting,” (Ps 139.24) as we invite Him in and as He leads us forward from here.

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