What’s Going On?

 

 

 

I think it’s official, the world has lost its sense of balance. Yes, we have a pandemic going on, yes, it’s serious, and yes we need to take precautions.  But is all this fear and panic justified?

In order to buy our groceries and not feel like a packaged sardine, I have to shop when things are not crazy.  And when would that be?  I dislike ordering things online.  Supposed early hours for those over sixty-five doesn’t help since there’s a large constituency of that here in Tucson.  Not much advantage. Add to those numbers folks who disregard the age recommendation and come anyway.

This morning I decided to try Costco at 8 a.m., being told the first hour on Tuesdays was for seniors.  I figured I’d avoid the initial rush and go about ten minutes late. Ready to leave, I couldn’t find my car keys. An indoor hunt led to nothing. I tried the car itself; there they lay on the driver’s seat. Huh? I left for my mission, only to round the corner and face an orange sign: STREET CLOSED.  Two obstructions in five minutes.

Obstruction three. Arriving at Costco was shocking.  The left turn lane was filled halfway back to the post freeway intersection.  Oh joy. Waiting to even turn IN took the patience of Job. Policemen arrived, found places to park, put on their fluorescent vests to direct traffic, of course after I made my left-hand turn.  By now, I gave up any hope of being able to park much less get through the Costco doors. I wasn’t mad, but it wasn’t something I wanted to navigate. I consoled myself that I could get away and go home easily by taking the business loop around to the next intersection.

Wrong. Bumper to bumper cars prevented a speedy exit for anyone. Now I was getting mad, another obstruction. And of course, this most northern intersection into Costco was not policed and people do what people do best, enter the intersection tentatively when the light turns green instead of stepping on the gas. I was stuck in that passageway twenty minutes, creeping my way to the light. Ten cars short of it, a cop arrived from the other direction to make his way to park and set up shop at the light. Of course.

Before I drove much further, I looked for a place to pull over, to adjust a 25 pound weight rolling around in my RAV trunk.  I’d forgot about it, before this errand. (An anchor cylinder for the dogs’ running leash at the park.) Its presence scared me, imagining it could slam its way out the rear door. I pulled over and hauled it to the floor of the second seat.

By now, a blog piece was forming in my mind. I decided to take a photo of the road sign that said STREET CLOSED, a symbol for what’s going on these days. But I left my phone at home. Obstructions five and six, the dangerous weight and forgetting my phone. When I returned to the site with my phone, the sign was gone; the street crew was loading up! So I parked and walked to the one around the corner that said STREET CLOSED AHEAD when I heard a beep beep.  I looked down to see my phone die right then and there. Obstruction seven.

What’s going on? Our world is upended. Unless you live in the arctic or jungle or Sahara Desert, you’re impacted by the obstruction and restrictions of this insidious Corona virus. My exciting March calendar was trashed; the events were once-in-a-lifetime things, big sacrifices for me. So events are cancelled, church is postponed, schools and stores closed, restaurants forbidden to serve, gatherings frowned upon; it goes on.

Normally, I try to take things in stride, albeit I have to work at that. I err on the side of skepticism; it’s been hard to agree to quarantining. I accept that the Lord’s in control– Christianity 101 says so, however that doesn’t mean things are easy nor that I have to like obstructions. God has an enemy and evil is having a heyday.

But Satan’s pot stirring has its limits, praise God. One morning I’ll get up, know where my keys are, be able to go to the store and not find half of Tucson in the parking lot, not get stuck in unnecessary traffic, not be endangered with a heavy weight, and not be so careless as to leave my phone behind. Whether the blame is on myself, life’s circumstances, God’s enemy, general stress, sin, Murphy’s Law, or a threatening virus, God’s still in charge. I want to find better ways to cope than giving in to despair and anger.

This is too big of a crisis not to acknowledge the inherent Big Ideas in it. Years ago, when my first marriage was heading toward a shoreline of rocks, I came to realize God’s presence with me.  Things were so awful, dark and overwhelming that all I could see were dark clouds. I despaired, picked up my Streams in the Desert devotional, and turned to the day’s entry. There, I read that God dwells in the clouds. My balance came back, my burden was lifted.

God’s in this. Bad things can happen. When they do, He’s still there, wanting to show us stuff we haven’t yet seen. Who knows what amazing things will come out of this storm?  Instead of pining for the items I wanted to bargain buy at Costco, I can trust Him to show and give me things a lot more important than a bucket of dates.

We are growing as a country and medicines are coming forward. Ideas showing how to be better prepared are forming. On a personal level, I recognize other things. Here’s my starting list.

  1. Remain calm and quell my agitation.
  2. Pray to stop being selfish and lamenting my inconveniences and losses.
  3. Let God speak to me. Read the Bible and journal.
  4. Pray big, pray for myself, for others, for families whose loved ones have died, for the infected and those with other illnesses in the midst of this turmoil. Pray for the countries and areas hardest hit. Pray for a vaccine and ingenious scientists. Pray for those caring for and bringing medical supplies to the needy. Pray for those out of work and pressed for money to pay bills. Pray that the animus is quenched in our country, and for those deciding how to best help us. For our economy and other countries struggling. Pray for selfish agendas to be crucified. And for myriads to come to Jesus.
  5. Who can I help financially wisely?

What’s on your personal list?

We have two small dogs, one who got to be with us from her weaning and one probably on the streets for a year. You can guess which one is the calmer, happier dog. Lucy-Hazel missed an entire year of our love, assurance and correction. We must train and re-program her and hope she can calm down and realize she’s safe and doesn’t have to be so defensive, nurture balance in her life.

Perhaps this is a time for us to draw closer to God. Only He can lift the burdens from our shoulders. I believe that street sign was removed on purpose, so I’d see that yes, there are road closures at times in our lives.  But our Lord removes them when the work He’s doing is completed.

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; He won’t permit the righteous to fall.”   ~ Psalm 55:22:

 

 

A Slow Heal

 

James was Jesus’s brother who became a believer after Jesus died.  In his new testament book, he encourages us to pray when we or others are sick.  Check out the beginning verses of his fourth chapter. “Is any among you suffering? …sick? Let him… call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord will raise him up.  Pray for each another, that you may be healed.”

Our bodies are unarguably mortal. The older you get, the more you know it. But it isn’t age alone that can attack. We are victim to all manner of earthly diseases, sicknesses and upsets of the universe’s order.

Lately, I’ve witnessed a flurry of physical and emotional afflictions, not only in my family, but in myriads of others for whom I care. Pneumonia, painful migraines, fibromyalgia, stomach or elimination discomforts, nerve damage, back pain, depression, marital disharmony, heart irregularities, vertigo, surgery and its after effects, vehicular accident injuries, precarious pregnancy, cancer, addiction situations, job injustices, and death of a beloved.

It is all too much.

I take James’s words seriously. “Pray for the sick, that you may be healed.”

I believe the Lord wants to heal those who follow Him or desire to know more about Him though He may call us to heaven (a complete healing), when our time has come. He waits for us to turn to Him, and calls to us so we’ll turn to Him.  Apart from Him, we may as push out to sea in a rowboat, alone, with no life jacket or engine and think we can weather the sun, wind and waves. What ludicrousness!

But with Him, we are helped. He is the Great Physician and all who come to Him are helped.

He gives freely of His many gifts, and tailor suits us to what is best, individually. He doesn’t line us all up and go down the row, giving each of us a bag of survival things like water, magic pills or potions, nor promise to cure our ailments. He is a personal Lord.  He meets your need in a finely tuned and specific manner designed for you. With your good in mind. Nice!

He may heal you slowly. He may make you wait. Don’t think He’s not healing you if your suffering is unbroken. Don’t think He hasn’t seen your affliction if at the diminuendo of your life (which to Him is the crescendo into Heaven) He takes you to Himself. He’s there. Exodus 48:35 says that He named Jerusalem “He is with you.”

If your illness or disorder continues, He’s there.  You may feel no happy in your life, but He’s there. He may be silent for an interim, but He’s there. You may have temporary relief and then the pain returns.  He’s still there.  Or He may lift from you the source of your suffering, the most overt example that He’s there. He’s there is all of it. I wonder if He uses pain and suffering to give us something new, something we’ve not noticed or been exposed to. He doesn’t just want to heal us, He wants us to experience Himself. If per chance illness or suffering is a way to get our attention, it is actually quite a wonderful and unconventional gift.

Recently, I began to have great discomfort with inexplicable acid reflex that made me concerned. Since I’m the recipient of a repaired hernia, removed gall bladder and esophageal replacement, it made me fear that my digestive dysfunction had returned. I was able to find intermittent reprieve, but not a cure.  I asked the Lord heal me, bring me relief. My worse times of the day were evenings.

While in Georgia visiting my daughter, I was watching a trio sing in a Sunday worship service.  I was having reflex discomfort at that precise moment. The singing was so moving, I cried softly.  I asked the Lord to please help me and lift the pressure in my esophagus; I told Him I was at His mercy and without His help, I knew I couldn’t recover. As the trio kept singing, I kept crying. When the last song came, Redeemed, its words melted me, and I begged God to redeem me from my pit. I whispered, “Jesus, please lift this condition from me.” Slowly, I felt a small moving inside, a little relief from the esophagus pressure, then a little more and a little more and I knew it was God’s touch. It felt like how you feel when you’re really sick and wonder how you’re ever going to feel better, when all of a sudden you feel GOOD, ready for a meal or ready to exert some energy. Like that!  I thanked God, and asked Him to forgive me for worrying that this might only be temporary yet praying it wouldn’t be.  It was a slow heal, but a sound one. I still feel relief from the pressure and like myself again. Wow! Though I still have minor issues, I know God touched me. He is there.

I love the song, “I Am the God that healeth Thee,” by Don Moen, and sing it over myself and for others wanting to be healed. It’s on U Tube.

“I am the Lord, who healeth thee.

I am the Lord, your healer.

I sent my Word, and healed your disease,

I am the Lord your healer.

Exodus 15:26, “I am the Lord that healeth thee.”

Psalm 107:20, “He sent His word and healed us.”