“Then the Lord said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey,” (Exodus 3:7-8a)
The captivity of COVID-19 has not been as long or onerous as the captivity of God’s children in Egypt, but it has been real enough, and it has caused many different kinds of misery for many people. Virtually everyone knows someone who has been affected by the pandemic. We know of those who have contracted the disease, some suffering greatly, others suffering mildly, and some who have died. We know some people who will never fully recover from the virus and we know some people who are asymptomatic. We know people who have been laid off, suspended indefinitely, and who have lost their jobs. We know the disappointment of cancelled events, the distress caused by separation and the closing of churches, the frustration of not being able to visit favorite places and people. COVID-19 has not only affected us physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually as well.
But please remember, God is with us in this time. God hears us. God loves us. God strengthens us and sustains us. And God cares deeply about our current “captivity.” No matter how long this journey might last, God will travel with us, and God will bring us to the Promised Land.
Fortunately for us, the Promised Land won’t be occupied by other cultures, as it was in the time of Moses and Joshua. We will come home – to our churches, to our families, to our favorite spaces and places – and God will welcome us with open arms. This is the wonder and majesty of God’s grace – God goes out before us, God walks along with us, and God is waiting to receive us. We don’t know how long the journey will take, but we know that we do not make it alone. Our God is good, and our God will lead us to “a land flowing with milk and honey” in the not too distant future.
Prayer: God of the quest, God of the adventure, God of the unknown, help us to know you are present with us. In these days of uncertainty and trial, hear our prayers. Heed our discomfort and our distress. Be patient with us and strengthen us. Guide us home, safely, we pray. Amen.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).