Elder Compass - November 2020
By: Betty Adkins
Like many of you, I am struck everyday with just how challenging life can be - disengagement from others, lack of communication, concern about the well-being of those inside and outside of our lives. These challenges reflect the overall tension of a pressing and too often devastating virus, civil upheaval and resounding uncertainty. I find my solace in the quiet of the pre-dawn hours, reading a devotion and waiting for my mind and spirit to be touched with hope found only from God.
I came across a devotional that put many of my thoughts into not only a realistic perspective but a necessary one, Walking with God in Uncertain Times by Mark D. Roberts, Ph.D., Fuller Seminary DePree Center for Leadership. His writing is based on Colossians 3:13 that reminds us “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.”
I needed to read those centering words especially in a time when we all feel off-center, isolated, alone in our struggles, and overwhelmed with the reality of today’s life. Yes, these are uncertain times. We hear that no matter which direction we turn. Dr. Roberts writes that the words “uncertain times” feels like an attempt to minimize the pain and uncertainty that others feel right now: those who are uncertain if a love one will survive COVID-19; those who have lost their jobs and cannot pay their bills or purchase enough food; and those who live in fear of losing their jobs. Even the pain “of toxic cabin fever.” Yes, these are uncertain times at a deep personal level that impacts everyday existence.
But what about those who chronically live in uncertain times? Those who are poor, chronically ill, couch surfing, homeless? We know that the chronic stress that many live with not just in 2020 but in their daily lives is debilitating to say the least. Now comparing it to my uncertainty – when will we worship again as a congregation, when will I sit next to my colleagues again, when will I hug my family again? These are my uncertainties. I know that my negative feelings focus more on disconnection and the anxiety it causes. Dr. Roberts reminds us that we need to remember that millions of others are struggling with much worse and now is the time to “clothe ourselves in compassion.” He writes, “that the uncertainty most of us are feeling right now could actually help us be more compassionate, not less. After all, millions upon millions of people in our world live with significant uncertainty, not just in these times, but in all times.”
I recently heard the story of how a woman survived living in a concentration camp. She did it with a piece of bread and a broken wooden comb. By combing her hair daily, she reminded herself that she was a child of God. By hiding a piece of bread every day, she could give it to someone who needed it more than she. A heart of compassion. That is how she survived.
Perhaps because of our uncertainty, we can begin to understand that deep level of uncertainty that others live with – not just now but throughout their lives. Today is a time for us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Maybe this awareness is God’s gift to us.
Since writing this article, my son tested positive for COVID-19. Dr. Roberts wrote this prayer that has taken a deeper meaning for me. I would like to share it with you.
Gracious God, we do live in what feels like “uncertain times.” The things we take for granted seem to have been snatched away by a scary and mysterious virus. We come before you with our own anxiety about the uncertainty in our lives. At the same time, we remember, Lord, that for others these times are worse than uncertain. We pray for those who are sick with COVID-19, that they would be healed. We pray for those who are watching helplessly as their loved ones are dying and are not able to be with them. We pray for those who are grieving the loss of family, friends, jobs and much more.
As we pray, may our hearts be opened. May our compassion be stirred up. And may we discover how we can serve those who are hurting these days. May we be united in our care for our neighbors near and far. Amen.
Elders On-Call in November:
Mike Lorenzen (502) 314-8261 firstname.lastname@example.org
Patty Rankin (502) 552-5921 email@example.com
Beth Smith (502) 445-1691 firstname.lastname@example.org
Elders On-Call in December:
Lynn Armstrong (502) 693-5670 email@example.com