By Conference Minister Diane Weible
And, Jesus wept.
In John 11 we read the familiar story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. It is a miracle, no doubt. It is a foreshadowing of his own resurrection. And, it is a deep and poignant reminder of his humanity.
Jesus said Lazarus would be raised and he was completely confident that Lazarus’ death was not the end of the story. And, yet, he wept. Scripture said he was deeply move and his spirit was troubled. Even with all he knew and his confidence that his friend would be resurrected, he still felt the pain of that moment. Sometimes our emotions are so deep that even knowing what we know, we still need to take a moment and feel what we are feeling.
I believe we are in that moment. There is nothing we can look back on to give us a framework of how to view COVID-19 and Shelter in Place orders we are all experiencing. There is no precedent (at least, none that I know of in my lifetime) to understand how we are to live when we cannot not be with one another and our sole way of communicating is online. For those with a loved one who is hospitalized with the corona virus, the fact that we cannot visit them and can only wait for the next report from the doctor, is unimaginable. For those in facilities that have said “no visitors allowed” the distance from loved ones can feel unbearable.
In such a time as this we may feel like weeping. We may feel exhausted and overwhelmed. We may feel scared. It gives me comfort to know that Jesus understands what it feels like to be overwhelmed and to grieve and to be afraid.
The truth is that there is a lot of good that is happening in the midst of this pandemic. Churches are finding ways to worship and have Bible study. They are leading efforts to make face masks and organize ways to get food to those in need. Neighbors are looking out for neighbors. Families are creating new and fun ways to communicate with one another. People are asking, “How are you?” and reminding them that if they need someone to talk to, they are there. New ways to connect and worship and BE the church together are being tried out and even if something doesn’t quite work, we are talking about how we can adapt it or do it differently so it works even better. Love and joy and compassion are popping up all around and that gives me great joy and hope. A colleague has invited us to look for the silver lining. I’ll be honest, I had a hard time doing that at first. And, I can also say with confidence that it has become much easier as I have witnessed some amazing ways we are being Church in this time. You inspire me. I hope we inspire one another.
At the end of the Lazarus story Jesus says, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me….“ (verse 41-42) Yes, God hears us. God hears our pain and our fear. And, God hears our hope and our joy. When everything feels confusing, we know where to turn. We turn to Jesus, the One who understands what it means to be afraid and what it means to trust that God will be with us even in the unknown and that God will always listen to us.