As I took one final look at this issue of Christian Leader before it went to the printer, I was struck by the ways in which God orchestrated the content, beginning in fall 2019 when COVID-19 wasn’t even on our radar and through the crazy last weeks of March when we hurriedly revamped
various news articles and essays to address the coronavirus pandemic that has prompted us to find new ways of staying together while we stay at home.
Back in October when Quentin Kinnison offered to write an essay on grief for this issue, a scenario in which a projected 60,415 Americans would die by August of a new coronavirus was not something I had considered. And yet this is the current estimation, although this projection will likely change again as more data becomes available. That’s an overwhelming number of mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, neighbors and friends.
How many is 60,000? It is a little more than the capacity of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. It is the number of passengers in 180 full jumbo jets. It is more than the number of U.S. combat deaths in the Vietnam War. With this number in mind, I read with new eyes Kinnison’s reflection on offering support and comfort to the grieving.
There is certainly grief in what we have lost, but what have we found?
There is so much to grieve for right now. Some of us have lost family members and friends to COVID-19, while others we love have died of other causes. We’ve delayed long-anticipated wedding and graduation celebrations. Schools were suddenly closed, and instruction moved online. Some of us found ourselves working from home with little time to prepare while others lost their jobs all together as businesses closed. We did our best to celebrate Palm Sunday and Easter in spite of mandatory stay-at-home orders. We wonder what will happen to vacation plans, recreational sports programs and typical summer church activities including mission trips and vacation Bible school.
Right now, we’re grieving in a wilderness of uncertainty. There is certainly grief in what we have lost, but what have we found? For what can we be grateful? How will we reset our lives after these weeks of isolation? What changes have we made personally, in our work and communities and as families and congregations that we hope will continue? What have we learned about being socially connected while physically distant from one another?
When the coronavirus “pause” is over, it might be tempting to go back to the way things were, ignoring what we’ve learned and downplaying the good ways in which we’ve changed. Let’s not let that happen. Let’s boldly claim this new promised land. Let’s be people whose vision for life after COVID-19 is guided by the new ways we’ve discovered to live out our love for God and our neighbors and our commitment to becoming fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ (Matt. 22:37-40).