Chaplain Intern Ronke Olawale
DISCLAIMER: This post does not in any way seek to or diminish the measure of grief and suffering, and loss felt by families, friends, and all those connected to the over 1.62 million global deaths due to the COVID-19 epidemic but rather hopefully to offer some hope for the future amidst this reality.
The coronavirus pandemic has largely defined our path during the year 2020, to the extent everyone might have had to reimagine our lives’ events. From March this year, our New Year Resolutions became irrelevant, and we have all pursued only those goals that would keep us alive. Others do not keep a yearly-resolutions but still make plans weekly, monthly, or yearly. We keep planners because we want to make sure that each day counts for something. We love to be in charge or in control of our time. Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future but from wanting to control it. One lesson this year has taught us, therefore, is that we are not in control of how the universe functions. What about your dreams for 2020? What is it about 2020? Don’t blame every mistake and unrealized dream on the year 2020. God has a plan, and God’s agenda is often different from our plans.
Right now, life might not mean much to some people- family losses, business losses, hopes dashed, and many dreams far from being realized – so it seems, right? Remember, “Weebles wobble, but Weebles don’t fall down.” Regardless of how much you push, press upon, hold them down, hit, or kick them, they would always rise again. The other lesson for 2020 from the Weebles is: THIS TOO SHALL PASS. History and, indeed, research teach us of society’s ability to mitigate, cope, adapt to, and overcome natural, technological, and willful disasters, as evidenced by the World Wars, Hurricane Katrina, the Indian Ocean tsunami, the September 11 terrorist attack on the United States, and many other disasters. When the COVID pandemic is over, what will you be doing? Have you considered how you might take advantage of current events to bring hope out of hopelessness? After every disaster comes a period of rebuilding.
After this time of destructions will come a time of rebuilding and renewal. When this storm – the coronavirus outbreak, ceases, the world will need to be rebuilt. We would need to rebuild our lives, families, communities, cities, and our entire world. Love would need to be rekindled where it has been lost or broken, and healing would begin. Life in itself is full of uncertainties and violence. Therefore, as mortals, we experience disruptions in our daily lives. These disruptions and sometimes disasters are caused by natural or unnatural events, including sicknesses and disease outbreaks, accidents including fires, air and road crashes, marine casualties, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. When these events happen, we are broken. Our outer bodies – the human houses are often destroyed – deaths occur. For survivors, our hearts are broken, our spirit crashes but never crushed. We are not “utterly” destroyed. Hence, we often say we pick up the broken pieces of our lives and keep going.
This, too, shall pass. Today, there are COVID-19 vaccines, there are medications too, even though expensive and still out of the reach of millions of people. When the storm ceases to rage, then we will begin to dream big dreams and have aspirations. Depending on where the outbreak left you, where will you start?
I think of Biblical David and his many struggles and battle as a pattern for discovering God’s purpose. At the time, he thought he would become a king, that did not happen. His best friend, Jonathan, even rose against him, but David did not give up. He was the least among his brethren; hence when they sought a king-figure, he was not considered. Although some people have it all laid-out or pre-arranged for them, for the vast majority, success in life is a process that may take years, series of conversations, crises, many years of serious toiling. When David chose to stop trying to be in control was the beginning of the actualization of his dreams. Growth is always on some level of letting go, enduring difficulties, and allowing the divine purpose behind the scenes to take its full course. No matter where you are today, understand that you have influence and impact on the lives of the people around you. Live with the understanding that you hold the light of hope for those who you can reach. Therefore, even when we are apart, we can be together during this time of our lives.
As we approach the end of the year, in light of the prevailing negative and often pessimistic events around us, the attitude of so many in this season is not gratitude. Many are struggling to keep an optimistic outlook about life generally, while others unsurprisingly are questioning God. But there are a couple of truths that not one philosopher questions; one, there is nothing new under the sun, and two, everything that has a beginning surely has an end, and this too shall pass. And for those of the Christian faith preparing to celebrate Christmas, what comes to mind about this holiday is joy and celebrations. The Christmas decor and lighting will be up. The temporary events of the pandemic should not distract us from seeking intimacy with Immanuel. Whatever betides us, we can cling to this truth; because of Immanuel’s arrival, we have hope and a future.