If this pandemic had happened when I was able-bodied, seven years ago, I would be in big trouble. I was fiercely independent and always lived by myself. Before returning to my church in 2013, I didn’t keep company with a lot of friends. As an introvert, I was more comfortable being alone in my home with my laptop and my cats.
Getting back to being in big trouble, as a recovering alcoholic who had lapsed going to meetings, the idea of social distancing would have certainly driven me to drink. Well, I would have driven myself to GET a drink. The fact that liquor stores are still open shows how much Americans need that liquid confidence; that elixir that brings about a false sense of peace.
Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
WE HAVE A GOOD SHEPHERD. Just reading this makes me exhale some stress out of my body. It makes clear that God is the true source of serenity and brings quietness to our soul. Not only does he comfort us, he guides us in dark times, like the one we are experiencing right now. We do not need to fear, but we do need to reach out to Him in prayer to see our feelings of panic subside.
I have to admit that it’s not as easy as it seems some days to “get” peaceful. I have days when I watch too much news and feel a lot of unease. It’s tempting to want to take oxycodone so I don’t fall to pieces – old habits die hard – but so far I’ve been responsible and only taken it when I really needed it. Please continue to pray for me in this area. Thankfully I am restricted on how much I can take during a day.
Nursing facilities are a hotbed for the coronavirus, and I live in one. Fortunately, we’ve had no cases of the illness here and our administration is going over the top to protect us. My respiratory system is very weak and I’m not sure I would survive this illness, but I still have hope and I can feel protected by my shepherd.
John 10: 7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
WE HAVE A GOOD SHEPHERD. If Jesus is truly our focus and our strength, then we can have life to the full. What does that really mean? Does that mean life will always be easy and full of happiness? Absolutely not – but our lives will be infinitely more peaceful when the dark days arise.
I’ve been in the hospital, and especially in the ICU, so many times in the last seven years that I can’t keep up. But as each year has passed, I’ve noticed my visits to the hospital have stopped creating so much anxiety in me, and instead I’ve gained a keen understanding that it is meant to be. I learned so much from the hard times and I wouldn’t change them for anything.
As for the challenges each of us have been facing through this pandemic, I’ve personally been praying for God to direct my steps as I’ve been stuck in my room in this facility. What should I study? Who should I pray for? What can I do to pass the time wisely? Now I have to admit, I have binge-watched several British detective shows, but that’s okay too. We can live wise and enjoy ourselves during this time.
Isaiah 40: 10See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. 11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
WE HAVE A GOOD SHEPHERD. Verse 11, to me, is one of the most poignant descriptions in the bible of how tender our shepherd is towards us. He gathers his lambs (all of us!) in his arms, and carries us close to his heart. These are harsh times we are experiencing, but God is carrying us close to his heart; he is leading us gently if we will just reach out to him.
We can use so many different vices to get through this time: alcohol, pornography, sleeping too much, shopping, overeating… But, WE HAVE A GOOD SHEPHERD, and with him, we are fulfilled.
Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.