Overwhelmed by sadness, I shut my laptop and my eyes. My chest is heavy with grief and fear. Although I planned to hop on Facebook for a few minutes to check on friends and family, my screen quickly filled with news that made my soul ache.
A friend shared a post from a friend whose husband has COVID-19 and is alone fighting for his life in the ICU. His lungs are filled with fluid; his wife is filled with fear.
Another friend shared that her eight-year-old came home from school in tears and asked, “Is my daddy going to get coronavirus because he’s Chinese?” The hate and disproportionate suffering Asian Americans are experiencing makes me furious and sad.
Then I saw a photo of an exhausted woman with tears streaming down her cheeks. A friend shared it, asking for prayer for this young mom who had tested positive for COVID-19. She has asthma and her fear of pneumonia is terrifying but so is going to the ER. If she gets admitted and doesn’t recover, she may never see her children again.
I am overwhelmed with sadness as I read each post, and my heart is now worried about our twenty-two-year-old son, Andrew, who also has asthma. He lives two and a half hours away. What if he gets hospitalized and doesn’t recover? What if we never see him again?
I don’t know what to do.
I want to be strong enough to stay and sit in the pain with others who are suffering. I want to leave words of encouragement and prayers under each post. But I also want to get in my car and drive as far away as I can until I run out of gas and have to stop.
When school first closed, we all thought this would only last a month or so. Staying home wasn’t a big deal to me after a year of battling undiagnosed chronic pain and sickness, stretches of anxiety-induced depression, a recent diagnosis of malignant melanoma on the back of my leg, and surgery to remove it.
The melanoma was gone, and I figured out the cause and cure for my chronic pain. Then news of coronavirus and a global pandemic hit.
Within a week our twenty-five-year-old son, Josh, was without work and income due to COVID-19. A few days later, Andrew called to tell us the venue for his May wedding is limiting them to ten guests, due to the new regulations. Suddenly, eighteen months of planning and their wedding-day dreams were being turned upside down.
It’s all too much!
After reading through social media posts and worrying about my children, I have empathy and anxiety overload. I know God has not abandoned us, but I don’t know what to do with all that’s happening around me and in me.
I put my laptop on the bed and go downstairs to see what my husband is doing. We have a list of home projects that will be a good distraction, but J.J. isn’t where I expect him to be. Instead, he’s outside mowing the lawn.
I stand in the middle of our kitchen, looking out the window, not knowing what to do. I could call a friend or text the kids to see how they’re doing. I could start on our project list. I just want to do something!
I know that avoiding my feelings won’t make them go away, although I wish it would. I want the courage to be sad even when I am afraid I’ll get stuck there. I need to process all these messy thoughts and emotions with God. He knows better than I do what is going on inside my heart and soul.
It’s all too much for me, but it’s not too much for God.
I walk back upstairs and sit in my favorite chair, open my journal and turn the pages of my Bible toward the back where I find Jesus waiting for me, inviting me to come and stay with Him.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
“Stay joined to me, and I will stay joined to you.”
In her book, Stay, my friend Anjuli Paschall describes what this looks like: “The invitation is to crawl up into our Father’s lap, letting His arms wrap us up. We are like tired children at the end of the day, with our worn-out bodies and watery eyes, heads resting on His shoulder, listening as He whispers hope into our cracked hearts, ‘I’ve got you. . . . I love you. . . . I’m not letting you go. I am for you. I am not a checklist or burden or something to get done. I’ve only ever been about being with you.'”
Surrounded by countless concerns and needs we can’t possibly meet, there are days when it’s all too much.
What if, when we are tempted to escape or avoid it all, we stay instead of running away? What if we sat still in the hardest parts of our days and emotions and got quiet with Jesus? Could we listen to our hearts long enough to feel what we feel and let Jesus show us what we need?
God is the only One strong enough to carry the weight of the world on His shoulders. He can handle it all, the sadness and fear, the sorrow and pain. He sees what we can’t, and He reminds us we don’t have to make it all okay.
How is your heart today, friend? How are you walking through
the times when it feels like it’s all too much?
I’m giving away a hardback copy of Stay: Discovering Grace, Freedom, and Wholeness Where You Never Imagined Looking! All the details on how to enter to win are here. Also, be sure to download my new free resource filled with encouraging promises and simple prayers to help you pull away from all that is pulling on you in this season of uncertainty and overwhelming concern.
God sees what we can’t, and He reminds us we don’t have to make it all okay. -@ReneeSwope: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
It’s really a shame that I will let God figuratively sit on the bookshelf of my life and gather dust. I am in His word and we talk often each day, but it often takes something monumental for me to crawl, with heart aching and fears mounting, into His lap. It takes the insurmountable for me to just be the lamb in His strong and caring arms. We were made to be in relationship with God. That is our purpose in life, and I’m sorry that it takes something really big to make me vulnerable enough to have to run to Him. Maybe this crisis will be the one that makes me realize I don’t need a crisis to come to Him. So thankful for my burden bearer and your reminder of His love here today.
Renee Swope says
Sweet Bev, I sense God wants you to feel His tenderness because that’s just how He designed all children. His and ours. We tend to run into our earthly parents arms or to their homes, when we are most in need. He understands and He is just waiting for you to come. He’d love to spend more time with you but no matter how often you come, you’ll always be His lamb. And He’ll always be by your side.
Judy M Wagner says
Thank you for reminding me that we all share the same feelings and need to hold onto God’s word that he’s “got this”, that we will be OK. Some days I don’t even remember what month it is. Like this morning finding some coupons that expired March 31. I thought oh I have to use these up soon. Then I realized it’s April now. Then I also realized that these weeks are just a blink of the eye in God’s time and we have so much to look forward to after this, an eternity with God! The daily news is so discouraging. Governors have gotten death threats if they don’t open up everything. Someone says they want their LIFE back. Seriously, you have your LIFE! Thousands no longer have a LIFE. We need a daily pray time with the Lord and concentrate on what is important in life and how to keep in contact with those we love and care about. To make sure everyone has what they need to make it through another day. With God watching over us we will make through to the other end of this.
Renee Swope says
Judy, I’m having the same struggle. I have no idea what day it is and I’m hesiatate to make many time commitments because every day is so different and time feels so wonky. But one thing that is helping me not feel anxious or frustrated with the complainers, is limiting news intake to one big update a day. My heart and mind don’t do well with all the differing opinions and predictions, plus I get so distracted by it all. I think as long as I know what we need to do this week as a family, we’ll be good. 🙂
Praying for you and yours as you pull close to Jesus and let Him be your calm in this storm. xoxo
Oh, yes, this all often feels like too much…
There was no space on your website to leave a comment to enter the giveaway. 🙁
Renee Swope says
Im so sorry the comments box wasn’t visible. I just fixed that. 🙂
Yes it is too much for us to handle and only God can guide us through. An additional thought , no one I know is negative toward Chinese or Asian people. The Chinese leaders in government are the ones who weren’t forthright in this.
Renee Swope says
Sandy, I didn’t know saying anything negative towards Asians either until my Asian friends told me what they are going through in other parts of the U.S. Im praying for everyone, everywhere and for each of you here who are being so greatly impacted by this virus. xoxo
Suzan Whitehead says
I think you just said what everyone is feeling. My husband and I are in that vulnerable group. He’s 67 and still a working farmer. I am 70 and a retired school teacher and used to do lots of volunteering, substituting for school and the city library. At first it was a relief to not have somewhere to go and sleep in everyday. I’ve just about deep cleaned every room in my house. I’m down to the last room. I’ve also spent my time making masks and sent them to family and friends. I keep up with everyone via FaceTime, phone, and facebook. My mother is in an assisted living facility and I call her everyday since we can’t go and visit. My husband sold cows and wants to go to the sale barn and watch them sell, like always. I practically have to beg him to wear a mask. I didn’t want him to go. But that’s not stopping him. I’m trying to control my environment. I know God is in control of everything. But I’m scared to death. I shouldn’t watch the news but In some ways it reassures me that our president is on top of things. You’re reassurance that God knows what is happening and he is control grounds me. He’s on top of things too! Thank you for the encouragement.
Renee Swope says
Suzan, I started praying for you and your husband, and your mom in assisted living, as I read your note. I’m praying he will wear a mask to the cow sale and hopefully see others wearing one, too. 🙂 Where we live in NC it’s a requirement for anyone leaving their house, so that’s been helpful.
I hear your heart in listening to the news. That is how I was feeling early on, but I’ve realized now that we’re going on several weeks my heart and mind weren’t doing well with all the differing opinions and predictions. Plus I get so distracted by it all. So I started limiting news intake to one big update a day, and that has really helped. I think as long as I know what we need to do this week as a family, we’ll be good.
Michele Morin says
I think our young adults are being hit hardest by the disappointments, and our mama hearts are absorbing the ricochet!
It really is “all too much,” and I’m working to make a spiritual discipline out of the daily need to hand it all over to God.
Grateful for this community of faithful encouragers!
Renee Swope says
I agree, Michele. I have several friends whose teenagers are really struggling with the isolation and not being able to be with their friends. I’m praying we can get back to being together soon. I know God’s timing is perfect and like you, I’m making it my daily discipline to trust Him. 🙂
Beth Williams says
Our society has been running around doing whatever we pleased. God has been patiently waiting for His lambs to come talk with Him. We might pray some each day & read the Bible. Not really giving Him a lot of time. I think He wanted to get our attention. He wanted us to come to a revival both in our nation, homes & self. He needs us to stay close to Him. Why does it take a pandemic for us to realize this? We get so busy trying to make money, pay bills, do things. That is all well & good, but not taking time each & every day to be in communion with Him. To be the little lamb that climbs in His lap & snuggles with Him. Stay is about getting quiet & listening to His still small voice. Just being with Him. No Netflix, TV, computer, etc. Just you & God no one else.
She is so right on! In the Old Testament when the Israelites drifted from God, openly defied Him or worshipped Idols He got their attention and when they repented and turned back to him they were once again under His divine protection. In His presence is fullness of joy!
To stay means to get in place and dig in, no matter the cost. I, too, feel that disconnect (emotionally distant inside , but the ultimate Christian on the outside). Sometimes it just seems like an illusion. I know that I know Jesus is my Savior, but somehow He seems so distant. Or, is because I’m going in the opposite direction? I want to learn to stay…
I always love when I see something you’ve written, and I smiled this morning when I saw your face at the top of my feed! You’ve hit the nail on the head with this one, as well, showing us a true depiction of what it feels like to “be real” in the middle of this unreal situation! I remember the last day I worked on site, which was March 13, thinking it would only be a week or so, and I’d be back in the office! Now working from home, with a college kid home unexpectedly from 12 hours away, a daughter who is a nurse on the front lines, and a husband who is an essential employee at a hospital, yes the worries are high. However, I have truly been leaning into Him each morning, and for that I am thankful! If nothing else, this pandemic has shown us what matters in life, and we have given up control of what we once considered “normal life”.
Thank you for sharing your peace with us all, and may your family be blessed through all of this! Prayers that your son’s wedding isn’t completely ruined…they will still be married, even if only 8 people get to view the event, right?
Renee Swope says
Thank you for your sweet note, Bobbie. You gave me the biggest smile when I read it! Im praying for your family, asking God to shield and protect them as they serve at the hospital. And asking Jesus to be your calm and comfort, your peace and provision of all that you need. 🙂
TAMMIE BRAY says
Even with the real fears and anxiety this virus is causing, what a wonderful opportunity to – as you said – just crawl into God’s lap and REST! We don’t do enough abiding in Christ and this virus is allowing us to spend all the time we want and need with the One who is in control, who is not worried, who will still provide all that we need.
We can keep looking at this virus and let the enemy win, or we can look to God and have VICTORY. We can come out on the other side (even though that means walking thru it) with a deeper relationship with Him and hear the word’s “Well done, my good and faithful daughter”.
I want all that God has for me and now is a great time to grab ahold of the Blessings He’s been waiting to shower on us.
STAND STRONG MY BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS OF THE MOST HIGH KING. GOD’S GOT THIS!!!!
Tamara Lammers says
beautiful.. thank you for this.. I feel like you just wrote down my emotions. God bless you all and keep you safe, healthy and in His care. RESTING in the Father’s arms.
What does STAY mean to me? When I first heard the question I immediately thought of this verse:
“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalms 46:10 KJV
Two years ago I had a major stroke. I am 68 years old now. And I found myself growing closer to the Lord because I had taken and had more time to STAY. The Lord still blessed me with allowing me to preserve many functions I had before the stroke. But He knew I would be
PRAYing more and STAYing more.
Thank you for your article, Renee!
Barbara Rothman says
Your devotional this morning really means so much to me given the details of your melanoma situation. My husband was misdiagnosed with a rare form of melanoma on his face. This went on for a few years allowing the cancer to spread to his lungs. We live in a rural part of California & although we love living here the medical expertise isn’t as on top as in the city. My husbands face started to go numb then we were referred to a local dermatologist who sent us immediately to St. John’s Hospital to a doctor who was well known in his research in melanoma. This was 200+ miles away but we were so thankful to be able to go. My husband had surgery on his face cutting all the nerves on the right side. We are thankful he can still see out of that eye & that began our journey with chasing down the spread of his cancer. He underwent 3 more major surgeries until he was cancer free. Unfortunately the cancer came back but right at the time he was a candidate for Keytruda. Did you have that in your treatment? Jerry was in the drug trial & his doctor, Dr. Hamid who discovered this drug saved his life. Jerry did the best in the trial & is now 5 years cancer-free. We are continually trusting God for His healing & are so very, very thankful that my husband & I can go on living our lives together. We have been married for 45 years & I’m so blessed to have a man who loves the Lord & guides me along life’s path.
Keep your eyes on the Lord & He’ll give you the peace to get thru this! God is good all of the time. Lord bless you!
I am having trouble finding a place on your website to comment and enter the giveaway. This is a book I’m extremely interested in!
Renee Swope says
Heidi, I am so sorry the comment box wasn’t visible on my page. I fixed it and so you can leave your comment now. 🙂
Renie V says
Thank you for this! I described perfectly how I’ve been feeling and struggling in these uncertain times. Thank for the encouragement to take time to ‘curl up in Jesus’ lap and rest, cry and lean on Him. He can and will give peace and strength
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Renee I know when you here news of your Friends Husband fighting this Covid 19 in ICU you probably say why. I live in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland. There was a Elim Pastor called Mark who had Covid 19 and was in ICU. He live in Outside Belfast in Northern Ireland. With Prayer and Faith and people in his Church standing on Gods word the Bible and the Promises in. Mark made a full recovery from Covid 19. So can your Friends Husband. Especially if saved can I believe will do the same. We have a big big might God. Psalm 103 verse 3 come to mind for your friends Husband. We have too keep trusting God no matter what. Keep looking up on to him. I know that can be very hard. Especially in theses days. Keep turning to Gods word the Bible and Prayer and standing on the Promises in it. Even when it all is too much. We hand everything we are going through over to God. God will help us get through it no matter how hard it seems. Especially more so if saved. Don’t ask why is this happening to us or my lovely friends Husband she does not need it or deserve it. We could start and ask alot of questions like why did he get it for this reson or that reson. No he didn’t get it for any reason. Why we could say do good people seem to get hit like this. Other’s get away with it. Life sometimes does not seem fair. But we if did start to ask alot of questions we would only make ourselves ill with worry. Would your friend want you to do that. I say not. So I say she just want to know you are there at the end of Mobile for her or praying for her. I will be praying the other side of the world for you your Friend and her Husband. We have a big big might God. Love Dawn Big Hugs to you Xxx
I just cried reading your post. There is so much pain and so much suffering. I just can’t imagine how people walk through this epidemic without Jesus. Thank you for shining the light on His comfort and love for each one of us. He is close to the broken and sick and hurting. Thank you for your words. Thank you for pointing people to Stay. But mostly, thank you for pointing people to Jesus.
Linda Hoenigsberg says
Renee. I know exactly what you mean when you say “I want the courage to be sad, even when I’m afraid I’ll get stuck there.” I’m 68 years old now, and when I was in my twenties and thirties I suffered severe anxiety and major depressive disorder. It was so horrific that I don’t allow myself the luxury of sadness because I know the depths and am afraid of them. I have gone through some of the things you mentioned…chronic pain and melanoma. My adult children all live and work in other states. When Covid-19 hit, I worried about them and two of the three were hit with job loss and financial problems. My daughter has been sick for weeks and weeks and she is vulnerable and that scares me. What if I never see one of them again. The fears have been strong. I read Psalm 90 aloud to the Lord in the Passion Translation this morning. It was half lament and half a reason for great hope. I actually reading “Stay” right now…probably due to your recommendation if I think about it. God bless you Renee and we WILL come out on the other side of this.
Thank you all for the encouraging messages.Our God is the God of the impossible. He is walking with us during these incertain times.He is giving us hope.May God Bless you all
Thank you for your raw honesty. Knowing others are struggling in similar ways helps one not feel so alone!
I shared on Facebook tonight:. If you’re struggling with depression and/or anxiety, try meditating on and memorizing Psalms 91.
My next post was pictures of my Bible where I had written “I”, and “me”, “You” and “Your” to make the words more personal. He shall cover you with his feathers becomes You cover me with your feathers, and His truth shall be your shield and buckler becomes Your truth shall be my shield and buckler.
It makes such a difference, making the living Word of God come alive like that. Makes me want to stay with Him so much longer, soaking up the promises and love it oozes out!
All I can think or write is Thank you!! I had to hold back some tears. Although my immediate family’s work routine has not changed, it has for alot of people I know. I work from home, my husband and son are essential employees. So much information flowing, it gets overwhelming and the need to disconnect for a bit is real. You don’t realize it until you wake up one day just feeling emotionally exhausted after you done everything, prepared everything, checked on everyone, prayed all the prayers. All this left is to just to get with Abba (a good friend calls him all the time) and say here it is and I finally will release all this you. All I can and need to and what is left is to stand knowing you have full control.
I’m so grateful the Holy Spirit led me here. It felt like you were speaking for me. I have a senior in high school, my second youngest is supposed to be married May 6th, myself and 2 daughter’s were supposed to go on a dream trip to Europe trip and so much more that has been affected. BUT… in the midst of this in learning how to step away from the screen and process with God like I used to in the days when I first became a single mom.
My heart hurts for all those affected by Covid 19, whether it through the illness or loss of an income. All these things caused so much havoc in our day to day life and we are left wondering if life will ever be normal again. Whatever happens, we must remember to look to God and have hope that all these events will strengthen us and bring us closer as humans. We are called to love on one another and somehow we all had forgotten what that is. We lost the connection to truly be kind to one another and help each other out. It takes chaos and interruptions in our life to shift our eyes and understand how much we all need each other, how much the human touch means so much. Praying for everyone and trusting that this too shall pass. Thank you for sharing this message.