He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.
Psalm 18:16–19 (NIV)
We welcome 2020 as we usually do for New Year’s Day — a lunch-to-dinner gathering at the grandparents’ house. Seventeen of us pack into their two-bedroom retirement home, and the air is abuzz and fragrant. Great-grandchildren find trinkets around the house to play with, their energy too high for any of the adults to handle. The moms and aunts busy themselves with the cooking and make sure everyone has a preview bite of what’s to come. The dads and uncles chat and keep the grandparents company.
It’s a typical beginning to the year, and in our bliss, we are unaware of what is to come.
By February, we hear murmurs of COVID-19 spreading around the world, but we feel untouchable in the US, safe and at peace while the world scrambles. But by March, we’re on lockdown. Fear binds us up in stress and anxiety, and we watch how sorely unprepared we are as a nation to deal with the many, many people who get sick from the disease and who die from it. Hospitals set up makeshift tents to care for patients, and morgues fill up too quickly. Mortuaries and cemeteries are backed up, and those who grieve must wait longer to bury their dead. There is just no more room.
Our kids stop going to school and start distance learning. They are disoriented and grieve alongside us, and we don’t have any answers for all their questions.
By April, we start to hear about friends of friends getting sick, and soon enough it hits our church community. Every day our kids pray, “God, please make coronavirus go away,” and we respond with amens, hoping it really does disappear, though the panic sets in.
I start to feel unsafe going out to get gas or to Costco after hearing about an Asian American family whose faces were slashed inside a Sam’s Club in Texas. They were being blamed for the virus because of their ethnicity. Anti-Asian racism continues to rise, and I’m afraid for my children, for my husband, and for myself anytime we have to leave the house.
In May, George Floyd is murdered at the hands of police officers, and the world can see how racism is alive and well in our country. He is only one of many Black men and women whose names become a cry for justice. There is no peace when there is no justice, and I search the Psalms for words to pray against the powers that keep systems of oppression in place. I ask God to bring down the wicked, to intervene.
All the while, work doesn’t slow down and deadlines loom over me like dark clouds that threaten to drown me if I don’t meet them. The problem is I’m already drowning, and still there is more pain to come. Peace now feels like a distant dream that won’t come true.
In June, our grandpa passes away, and in July, a church member dies of COVID-19. No more, I beg God. Please, please just make it all stop.
The waters are too deep, the waves too strong. Everything is pushing me further down. When I pause for a moment and take in all that has transpired, I notice my breaths become shallow. My chest tightens. I become overwhelmed by all the heartache.
What is peace at a time like this? I wrestle with my reality, and deep down I know that true peace can be found even now — but only when I’m tethered to God. He is the one steady Person I can fully rely on and the One who understands the anguish of humanity. He knows what it feels like to lose loved ones to death, to be surrounded by people who come after your humanity, and to be betrayed in friendship. He overcame death and was raised to life with a glorified body that still bears His scars.
If He bore it all, surely the peace He offers is real because He embodies it in Himself. I ask God for space to breathe, and He brings to mind my favorite image of peace: a vast meadow where a breeze makes the tall grass sway. I imagine myself standing in the middle of it and take deep breaths. His presence is peace. The Holy Spirit soothes and comforts my soul, and I find my footing again.
God of Peace, I need You. I have no control over what’s happening in my life, and I’m overwhelmed by it all. Only You can help me stay grounded. Holy Spirit, anchor me to Yourself and steady me. In Jesus’s name, amen.
This article was written by Grace P. Cho, as published in Empowered: More of Him for All of You.
Empowered: More of Him for All of You, by Mary Carver, Grace P. Cho, and Anna E. Rendell is designed to incorporate the five major components of our being — physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual. The sixty Scripture passages and devotions invite you to see from different angles how God empowers us, and each day ends with prayer and reflection questions to deepen the learning. Grab a copy now. We pray it blesses you.Leave a Comment
I think of the past 2+ years and at times it seem surreal. I don’t know where I would be without my faith and family. While weekly zoom services were not the most satisfying, I watched the clock on Sunday mornings until it was time to gather. I don’t know how I would have gotten through without my family of faith. And while there still is so much grief and sadness in this world, and at times it seems like things will never get any better, I take comfort in knowing I am not alone. I think about all those who have no spiritual connection, no God to go to, no faith. For me, the harder my life has gotten, the more I rely on my faith. And while at times of weakness I question the sanity of this, I question if God really listens to me and cares, in the end I take comfort in Jesus and the words of the scripture.
Oh my just exactly what I was praying last night, that I need His peace in my life right now. It feels as though the storm is raging and I am so worn from trying to stay afloat. Thank You Lord for blessing me through this beautiful post! I love the prayer and am hanging onto it to pray over and over until it’s in my spirit.
God bless you!
Kathy Cheek says
Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit and a promise to us from the Lord, ours to claim each and every day in a troubled world, and I think it shows the evidence of God working in our lives when others see us having His peace.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Mary thank you for this reading. So true. There is world out there of people who would when Covid set in and the cost of living say we’re are you God that you didn’t stop this happening. They probably are the people who say why should I believe in the Good who is supposed to be able to do anything. That lets this happen and lets people loose loved one. But we that are saved have to not think like them. We have still find peace and trust God he is there in the mits of what was going on in the time of Covid and in our world today. Continue to tust God even if we don’t seem to see any thing change in those times when Covid was bad and what going on in our world today. That can be hard. We have stand on his promises no matter how hard it is to tell people who don’t believe God promise in his word are true. God does keep them. Even if we are they don’t see God hand doing something. We still have to believe he is in control. As we have to believe as saved the kids song that I was taught in Sunday school. It is “He got the whole world in Hand and he’s got me and you brother in his hands” So he has even if we don’t see it Got us and the world in his hand. I still do and during Covid stood on all the promises of Psalm 91. As it says in verse in verse 10 and 11 “No evil shall befall you Nor shall and plague come near your dwelling For He shall give His angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways” I believe that. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Linda Jones says
This is me to the t. I am in a space looking for peace but all I seem to find is caps and loads of stress. I pray every day it will get better but seems to get worse.
When I think about the last 2+ years, my heart grieves at all the injustice and lies we have all been subjected to. For the harm done by the unnecessary restrictions and non-evidence-based ‘interventions’… to those with non-Covid physical and mental health conditions, to businesses and livelihoods, to our children’s education and development.
Even in Christian writing, it is as though only covid matters and the massive collateral damage from unjust government intervention is ignored. It is evident that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers that seek to bring us down. I am reassured that God’s truth will always win through and we are starting to see that now, thankfully.
My husband is a senior academic clinical scientist who worked in the UK National Health Service for over 30 years and he has been distraught at how the truth has been suppressed, how those in power have let that power go to their head, and how the disadvantaged have been disproportionately affected. But our God is a God of justice and is on the side of the poor. His truth, justice and mercy will prevail.
Beth Williams says
The past two years have been hard on everyone. Our country has so much racial tension & disunity. We are supposed to be a United States not divided. Asking God to send His peace the only peace that transcends ALL understanding to everyone.