He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.
Psalm 18:16–19 (NIV)
We welcome 2020 as we usually do for New Year’s Day — a lunch-to-dinner gathering at the grandparents’ house. Seventeen of us pack into their two-bedroom retirement home, and the air is abuzz and fragrant. Great-grandchildren find trinkets around the house to play with, their energy too high for any of the adults to handle. The moms and aunts busy themselves with the cooking and make sure everyone has a preview bite of what’s to come. The dads and uncles chat and keep the grandparents company.
It’s a typical beginning to the year, and in our bliss, we are unaware of what is to come.
By February, we hear murmurs of COVID-19 spreading around the world, but we feel untouchable in the US, safe and at peace while the world scrambles. But by March, we’re on lockdown. Fear binds us up in stress and anxiety, and we watch how sorely unprepared we are as a nation to deal with the many, many people who get sick from the disease and who die from it. Hospitals set up makeshift tents to care for patients, and morgues fill up too quickly. Mortuaries and cemeteries are backed up, and those who grieve must wait longer to bury their dead. There is just no more room.
Our kids stop going to school and start distance learning. They are disoriented and grieve alongside us, and we don’t have any answers for all their questions.
By April, we start to hear about friends of friends getting sick, and soon enough it hits our church community. Every day our kids pray, “God, please make coronavirus go away,” and we respond with amens, hoping it really does disappear, though the panic sets in.
I start to feel unsafe going out to get gas or to Costco after hearing about an Asian American family whose faces were slashed inside a Sam’s Club in Texas. They were being blamed for the virus because of their ethnicity. Anti-Asian racism continues to rise, and I’m afraid for my children, for my husband, and for myself anytime we have to leave the house.
In May, George Floyd is murdered at the hands of police officers, and the world can see how racism is alive and well in our country. He is only one of many Black men and women whose names become a cry for justice. There is no peace when there is no justice, and I search the Psalms for words to pray against the powers that keep systems of oppression in place. I ask God to bring down the wicked, to intervene.
All the while, work doesn’t slow down and deadlines loom over me like dark clouds that threaten to drown me if I don’t meet them. The problem is I’m already drowning, and still there is more pain to come. Peace now feels like a distant dream that won’t come true.
In June, our grandpa passes away, and in July, a church member dies of COVID-19. No more, I beg God. Please, please just make it all stop.
The waters are too deep, the waves too strong. Everything is pushing me further down. When I pause for a moment and take in all that has transpired, I notice my breaths become shallow. My chest tightens. I become overwhelmed by all the heartache.
What is peace at a time like this? I wrestle with my reality, and deep down I know that true peace can be found even now — but only when I’m tethered to God. He is the one steady Person I can fully rely on and the One who understands the anguish of humanity. He knows what it feels like to lose loved ones to death, to be surrounded by people who come after your humanity, and to be betrayed in friendship. He overcame death and was raised to life with a glorified body that still bears His scars.
If He bore it all, surely the peace He offers is real because He embodies it in Himself. I ask God for space to breathe, and He brings to mind my favorite image of peace: a vast meadow where a breeze makes the tall grass sway. I imagine myself standing in the middle of it and take deep breaths. His presence is peace. The Holy Spirit soothes and comforts my soul, and I find my footing again.
God of Peace, I need You. I have no control over what’s happening in my life, and I’m overwhelmed by it all. Only You can help me stay grounded. Holy Spirit, anchor me to Yourself and steady me. In Jesus’s name, amen.
This article was written by Grace P. Cho, as published in Empowered: More of Him for All of You.
Empowered: More of Him for All of You, by Mary Carver, Grace P. Cho, and Anna E. Rendell is designed to incorporate the five major components of our being — physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual. The sixty Scripture passages and devotions invite you to see from different angles how God empowers us, and each day ends with prayer and reflection questions to deepen the learning. Grab a copy now. We pray it blesses you.Leave a Comment