It has been a little over a year since COVID disrupted our normal and began to wreak havoc around the world. I believe that COVID has affected each one of us differently and we all are trying to process what just happened in the last year. I do not know where you currently stand in your journey, but I am sure either you have been deeply affected by COVID or someone you are in close relationship with has been deeply affected. I am not able to answer all the questions or bring perspective into all of the circumstances. I am by no means professional in dealing with trauma or tragedy, but I do think my story could be helpful as we minister to those who have experienced extremely difficult things this last year.
To lead by example, since mid December my dad has been fighting complications from COVID. He was hospitalized at the beginning of January, has remained in the hospital for over 100 days, and just began rehab this past week to try and regain his mobility. Over the last 5 months I have learned some things that specifically deal with the health tragedy of COVID.
Know that what you have heard on the news has been their reality at some point.
It was a strange reality when I was sitting in my living room with my mom listening to the news realizing that everything they were explaining about patients and families experiences was what we were living. The news became not about someone else somewhere else, but was deeply personal to me. The news had never told my story before. It is too hard to even describe what it is like to have someone you deeply love fighting for their life separated from you in a room full of strangers working their absolute hardest to keep them alive. Several times my husband and I would just drive and sit outside of the hospital in the parking lot to be as close as we possibly could be, just to pray. Just to be near.
As you minister to those who have experienced these realities, try to put yourself in their shoes as much as you possibly can. Their stories are real and have deep messy emotions attached to them. As you wrestle through your thoughts and opinions about the media, be sensitive to who is in the room and how they have been directly impacted by COVID this last year. Everything that I experienced I had already heard before on the news, nothing that I experienced was new information for me, but it became real for me and my family. The nice thing about that is I can tell you that for the most part you know what they have experienced the news has told you. That is a gift! Now, are there other crazy things also on the news and opinion and thoughts on how the news has controlled the narrative? Yes. However, I would encourage you to use it to your advantage to minister better to the one who has walked it. Use it to pray better, use it to gain understanding, use it to know how to encourage, use it to know how to better serve them.
They want you to call them.
I honestly believe we are too often concerned with not wanting to interrupt, or be an inconvenience. Whatever it is we make so many excuses to not call. We say they know they can call me if they need me. Well let me just tell you that they need you, call them. Don’t have any other agenda, but to care for them and be their friend. Tell them about your day, how you are doing they want to know. Sometimes talking about something else is refreshing. I will also add that once it is over and their life is trying to return back to normal, keep calling. I think it is easy to care for those in the midst of the crisis, but are we willing to be faithful in the wake of the crisis. Their world has just shifted and they are trying to process their thoughts, emotions, and world. We have to be present while they are processing those things; we have to help them shape their grieving around the gospel. What an honor it is to walk with someone post crisis as their world view changes so that they see Jesus deeper, and the goodness of the Gospel better. That’s our job to call and be present. So pick up the phone and call that person you know who has been deeply affected by COVID and love them well. It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what to say just be present.
Tell them of the grace and peace we have in Jesus to hold all things together.
This has been a season of receiving grace and peace from the Lord and the people around me.
I have not been able to maintain my normal expectations and demands of life and that has been SO HARD. They will probably feel like they are failing in all areas of life, school, friendships, jobs, ect. There was a moment that I had to trust Jesus in a deeper way to sustain all of those things in my life. That it is Him that holds all things together not me and my efforts. As I am slowly picking up responsibilities again I am seeing the abounding work of Jesus to do exactly what He promised. So encourage them to rest in the Grace and Peace the Lord gives in their everyday life as they begin to navigate their new world.
Remind them of who God is.
In the midst of all the chaos, what I needed most was to remember who God was. Sometimes circumstances can be all consuming and that when the darkness creeps in, when the thoughts become hopeless. The second that we remember Who God is as His beloved, things begin to change our circumstance may not change, but our perspective does. When we remember Who God is, we begin to have hope in the darkness, there is healing for our brokenness, and even in this hardship the gospel brings freedom. Scripture has been the most grounding thing for me over the last 5 months. Why? Because it has reminded me of who God is. Instead of trying to give them great advice from your own brain, give them Scripture. Teach them how to anchor themselves with it, how to use it as a weapon, so they are able to rightly think through the events they have just experienced.
My prayer is that you find this helpful as you love and care for that student or member of your body that is deeply hurting and processing what they have experienced this last year. May you have wisdom and bold encouragement for them believing things for them that are struggling to believe for themselves.