This has been a week of letting go, I have two children who were due to take GCSE’s and A’levels this year and that’s all been cancelled because of the coronavirus. They have suddenly left their school / college without the usual build up to exams and without properly being able to say goodbye to friends. There were concerts cancelled (we all play different musical instruments), a school trip to Germany for one and a band tour to the Netherlands for the other cancelled. A major business project for my husband and weekly meetings cancelled with friends and at church. Our once in a lifetime holiday to celebrate the end of those exams is looking more and more unlikely. In fact, at one point we were getting several emails each day cancelling events. It’s been a draining week for everyone (and I know that others have been in a much worse place than us). But we have been effectively grieving and letting go of so many things.
A friend reminded me that it bears some comparison to the book of Job in the Bible. In the first chapter he receives a series of messages telling him that he’s lost almost everything he has, including his children and home. Thankfully it hasn’t been anything like that serious for us, but it has been a stripping away of so much of the business that we surround ourselves with, leaving us feeling very vulnerable and exposing our foundation. It leaves me asking; What do we build our lives upon? What can we hang on to?
There are good things coming out of this that are positive: Air pollution is reducing significantly in many places hit by the virus. The noise of traffic is reducing and we can hear the bird song more clearly. The sense of community is growing for some, certainly where I am. Facebook groups have sprung up with people offering to help elderly or vulnerable neighbours and each other fetching shopping and other essentials, even just offering a friendly phone call. I’ve met a ‘neighbour’ that I’ve never spoken to before. We are fortunate here in southern England that the weather has been beautiful and sunny – spring is definitely in the air after such a wet miserable winter here.
We are restricted to going out once a day for exercise, and so many people are taking that opportunity, walking around the neighbourhood. It’s lovely to meet new people – though keeping a respectful distance. On an aside, my dog is rather nervous of other people, so he’s rather enjoying this social distancing. He feels far more relaxed having a conversation at a distance to other people than up close, and I currently don’t feel I have to make excuses for him!
These are all lovely things, and some of them are actually closely tied to us being more sustainable which gives me some hope that we might learn some things that might help us in the future, but for me there is a stronger anchor in my faith.
The Bible never guarantees that bad things won’t happen to us, however it does make a lot of promises that can really help us at this time. There is a God who loves us, and wants to walk with us (all of us) through these difficult times. In Psalm 23, it says:
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me. Psalm 23:4
It is wonderful to know he is always with me and sometimes I can almost feel his comforting presence. I also know that he’s a compassionate God; he sees our tears and understands our feelings.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Revelation 21:4
This is a difficult time, but can we hang onto this thought? We cannot imagine the good that he has in store for us.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
I do worry about what will happen to my family, friends and neighbours through this (even though God tells me not to!) but I do trust that God is in control and somehow there will be some good from all of this.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
– that is what I am holding onto now!