I count the white, wiry hairs poking from the part in my scalp. There are too many. I give up and measure the length from root to where the color changes. These markers are comforting to me right now. I’ve never been a numbers person, but lately, I cling to what feels measurable.
I stare at graphs, trying to grasp the invisible movement of a global pandemic. I print and cut out guides for measuring my kids’ ever-growing feet. I check the ratio of water to rice in our rice cooker, making sure it comes to a round curve in just the right place close to my flattened knuckles, before closing the lid and pressing start. I number each page of a letter I wrote and count how many sticks of butter we have left in the fridge. I add up how many days it’s been since Breonna Taylor was murdered, and the days since stack up without justice: 154.
My son begs me to check the weather again, asking me exactly how long the on-going summer storm will last. Irritated, I give him the same answer I’ve given him ten times in the last hour, “It looks like it will last for most of the night, but I don’t really know.” I tell him he’s safe, and I feel like a liar. The muscles in his shoulders and forehead stay clamped together at my response. I recognize my own stress in the creases above his brow. I see the stress of a nation and world in his small, light brown shoulders.
I want to know how long things will be the way they are too, but the things I want to measure most are immeasurable.
Every day, I grasp for answers in places that refuse to deliver. I scroll my newsfeeds, searching for something. I text with a friend. I discuss with my husband while we scrape small clumps of food from the dinner dishes, both of us exhausted from another day of living in this strange time. I read and reread the latest statement from our local school district to see if I missed any details that might offer comfort.
I order more masks and remember a post I read about how “un-American” masks are. As an American kid living in Tokyo in the eighties I was used to seeing them, and my mom sent us cute cloth masks from the Korean store years ago. Am I not American? I feel the collective weight of living while surrounded by the unrelenting dread of waking to another day of hate and tension, like a fog that consumes the whole sky.
I read Jeremiah and remember that God’s people have always lived through hardship and difficulty. The prophet Jeremiah lived through transition and trauma and wrote on God’s behalf, encouraging and instructing his fellow Israelites in Babylonian exile:
Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.
Jeremiah 29:5-7 (NLT)
Living through a global pandemic isn’t living through exile. But what if we took those God-given instructions to heart for ourselves today?
Despite everything, build and plant. In Little Women, Jo March said, “necessity is indeed the mother of invention.” What can we build and create in the places that feel lacking and in-need? Where can we plant seeds, tend to them, and believe that life can rise again?
Despite everything, multiply. How can we connect with others and let God multiply our connections despite all of the things that feel lethargic and limited right now?
Despite everything, work and pray. What if we work for the peace and prosperity of where we live and want the same good for our enemies? This one knocks me over inside. It’s easy to understand doing this with people I love, but God told the Israelites to do this for the Babylonians. God’s heart always stretches further than we’d choose or expect. Our welfare isn’t tied to fighting for our personal rights, comforts, national freedom, or the American Dream. It is tied to the welfare of those we don’t understand, those we look down on, and those we don’t want to associate with.
I ask God how long, and instead of a measured forecast, I’m reminded of how far Jesus’ arms stretched from one side of a cross to the other. Unjustly nailed unto death, as far as the east is from the west, His love is immeasurable. His arms reach wide with every longing the world bears to gather us up in love, like a mother hen.
My son wakes after midnight. He stands at my bedside in the dark, asking how long the storm will be. I tell him I don’t know how close the lighting will strike or if hail will pelt our roof again. The words I offer fall empty from my tired mouth. I scoot over, make room, and wrap my arms around his still, small frame. I listen to the ceiling fan whirl, feel the cool air on my cheeks, and hear his rhythmic breath lengthen and relax as he finally falls asleep.
What if we work for the peace and prosperity of where we live and want the same good for our enemies? -@tashajunb: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
I know we all can get scared. We all are human. But that is what the Old Devil want us get is scared. Especially in the times we are in. I not a Mum. But I can kind of feel your pain. As Mum your kids expect you to keep them safe. Have all the answers to the questions their minds think of and they ask you. If scared of the bad weather. They expect you their Mum to say to them especially if they wake up in the middle of the night scared. You their Mum to make it all better and re a sure them every thing going to be ok. Inside you as Mother are probably scared yourself. But you don’t want your child to see you are scared. The Old Devil knows you are scared. He the Old Devil thinks he has you were he wants you. You have to be the big brave Mum not show your Child your scared. Let them know everything is ok. It is going be ok. We have to at times like these keep our eye on God. Even if we don’t have kids. And our scared of something ourselves. We have too not let the Old Devil win. Take it to the Lord in prayer and leave it with him. Not let our scared was get the better of us. Remember who it made this world. Start praying to the Saviour our of the world who has all of us in his hands who will never let anything happen to us. Like the kids song I was taught at Sunday School when small. It applies for today. You get it on YouTube. It is :He Got The Whole World In His Hands: God got the whole world including me and you in his hands as well. We can’t even begin to measure the Love God has for us all. But that song is so true. Plus God love us so much he even sent Jesus to die for us. As it says in John 3 verse 16 For God So Love The World He gave His Only Son. We his Followers should do the same Love the world and all people in it like God does and his son Jesus did when on earth. By if we can helping someone in need. Doing it in love on to Jesus. As if saved we are the Church. The Church is not the big fancy building. But the people the saved who go the extra mile to help those who need the help. Plus pray not gossip watch what we say. Doing little things like this is showing the peace and love of Jesus in a world that needs to know Jesus. In a nice way. Love today’s reading. Thank you for it love Dawn Ferguson-Little
Love this, Tasha!
While I understand Jeremiah 29, some days it is hard to continue to move forward. Some of my life has remained exactly the same, while other parts are stubbornly stagnant….we keep on keeping on as best we can. I wanted to hug your poor little one as the storm frightened him! We recently had a thunderstorm during lunch and my grandson covered his ears and the dog went under the table! When I look at the calendar it’s almost unbelievable have many months have passed. Thankfully my trust is in God to give me wisdom to carry on in these strange times. Blessings to you and yours!
Yes, I completely feel that sentence you wrote, “some days it’s just really hard to move forward.” That’s the truth. And honestly, even though God told his people he had a hope and future for then in Jeremiah 29, most of those that heard that never left exile. In a way, they didn’t “move forward,” as they probably would’ve chosen if they could.
Thank you for your words, and care, Indiane. We are so glad you are part of this community!
Natalie Back says
Great reminder Tasha! We are not the first of God’s people to live in difficult times.
Thank you, Natalie!
I love this perspective, Tasha ❤️
These past few weeks as I’ve been longing for answers, I’ve been meditating on the the verses in Matthew 25: “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
It reminds me there’s always something to be done, even in uncertain times like this, if my heart is focused on living in Love!
Thank you, Adora!
I love how you’ve been meditating on Matthew 25. That’s beautiful. And I see you doing these very things in your creativity with music and teaching throughout this time. I know those things have offered a welcome drink to thirsty souls.
Thank-you for your beautiful, heartfelt post, and reminder Tasha not only to trust God at all times, but also to love others as well as He loves us.
Blessings to all,
Thanks for your words, Penny.
Valerie Y. says
I echo Penny! And thank you, Tasha for a post that resonates with each reader, and reminding us that God’s instruction and Word is ageless.
Thank you so much, Valerie!
Beth Williams says
God has us right where He wants us. We may not like the way it is now-pandemic, civil unrest, etc. Even adults can get scared at times. Scared of the what ifs in life. God tells us to go about His work always. Everyday there are people out there hurting, longing to know Jesus. We can sit at home stuck in our worried state or we can go do as God commands. Our church participated in “feed the multitude” every 8 weeks or so before pandemic. Now we’ve partnered with another church & are helping make blessing bags. Families have gotten all kinds of supplies, food, clothing, etc for these bags. Sunday (08/16) we are taking a collection up to buy more items. We’ve also gotten bottled water for them. Something so simple can mean a lot to someone in need. Needs come in good & bad times. Praying that one day all this will be over & we can go back to a semi normal life. In the meantime let’s tend our gardens, cook food. & help others in any way we can.
Beth, I love your perspective and your heart to help in anyway you can. That’s so beautiful and I’m sure good things will grow from the seeds you plant and tend to in this time, despite everything. Thank you for doing that where you are!