“… for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again …”
The COVID-19 pandemic’s effects have seeped into virtually every aspect of our lives. It’s causing pain through illness, death, fear, overwork, financial hardship, isolation and more.
For many of us, it’s also causing a kind of fog to settle in mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. With our activities and our geographic and physical connections with others so limited, I’m often reminded of the movie Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray’s character is forced to keep repeating that day with no apparent end in sight. But there is a purpose – he is meant to discover love.
The pandemic fog makes life feel repetitive. We lose track of the days, and sometimes ourselves. I’m not saying the pandemic is intended to teach us something. However, as with every life challenge, we can choose to see if there are ways in which we can learn and grow as a result of it while we wait for the tide to turn.
In the Bible study I attend, we start by reading the chosen scripture in different translations, choosing words and phrases that speak to us. We then pray and meditate on those.
On a day before the pandemic began, we studied Proverbs 24:16 and Psalm 34:19.
… for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again,
but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.
The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
In prayer I saw an army riding across what looked like fens in Scotland. The imagery gives me reassurance and hope, even in this time of fog and pain.
The army looked like a white cloud stretching out to the horizon along the ground. The leader was wearing a white greatcoat and those who followed were dressed in white. All rode gleaming white horses and the followers all carried tall, white, shining banners.
The riders weren’t racing flat out under stress and strain. They moved at a steady, fluid pace. They were at ease, confident, at peace. They knew their roles, they knew their places in the gathering, they rode effortlessly and joyfully. Technically, all were alone on horseback, but they were not truly alone.
The message was, “Keep rising up and remember you’re not alone, you’re part of God’s army.”
No matter how isolated we feel, we are connected, and He is always with us. We are not at loose ends; we are part of God’s shining army of peace and our lives have meaning and purpose in every circumstance.
I can’t say I regularly remember and practise these teachings. But I know it’s essential to keep coming back to them until they stick because His teachings are infinitely true, and His promises are infinitely steadfast. They are among the innumerable rays of His light that can dispel both the fog and the pain of any life challenge when we remain focused on Him.
In closing, here is His teaching from a study we did just after the first lockdown began in March 2020, based on Isaiah 50:4:
The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
The teaching was, and is:
“Pray unceasingly. Keep the connection. Keep your ears open. I have much to discuss and download. I will help you find your way in the darkness. It is a time of turmoil; you will find peace with Me.
I am blessing you all. Have peace. Stay calm.”
This is one of a series of devotionals posted by Haliburton United Church and Haliburton Pastoral Charge. Our thanks to Lisa Harrison for this devotion.
If you would like to submit a devotion for consideration, please email us.