Bless our God, O peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept us among the living,
and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid burdens on our backs;
you let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.(Psalm 66:8-12)
My growing concern as the COVID-19 pandemic stretches out is for people’s mental health. Most people are dealing with a higher level of stress than at any other time of their lives, and for a much longer sustained period. We have not been prepared with adequate coping mechanisms for the current situation. For many, the default way to deal with stress is to talk with others about it. At the very least, one remedy for stress is to socialize and have a good time with friends. Personal isolation and even too much time with the same few people escalates the stress instead of relieving it. We are social creatures, and we are members of a connectional and relational faith. This is a true test of all our faith and feelings.
It can be very difficult to hold fast to the core tenets of our Christian faith. We echo the Psalmist who cries out, “How long, O Lord, how long?” When will this end? When can we reconnect? How can we let off steam in non-harmful and healing ways?
I only want to say to you again, God is with us. God cares deeply for us, and it breaks the heart of God when the children suffer. God will see us through coronavirus. God will see us through social and physical distancing. God will see us through economic upheaval and personal distress and challenge. God will do these things. And even though we are physically separated, remember to reach out. Call each other. Email each other. Touch base by social media. Send a text to a friend or loved one. Remember that in the hardest times, we can be a lifeline to each other.
God of redemption and holiness help us to remember who we are. We are your people, now and forever. When we are threatened, you are with us. When we are frightened, you are there. When we are despondent and sad, you hold us. When we see only trouble, you carry us through. Restore our faith and give us the strength we need to emerge in the “spacious place” that you promise. We claim this in our faith and confidence. Amen.