This week was the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak that I felt it. Until Thursday, the whole situation felt like a, surreal, distant problem. This is largely because I am in a country where the daily deaths and confirmed infections are not in the thousands.
I also have the privilege of being able to work from home. So, the only thing that really changed was the scenery and the number of hours I worked per week (which is way more than I used to).
But this week, despite some of my best efforts to ignore the prevailing fear of the unknown, it dawned on me that this is but the beginning of a long season of uncertainty and heart ache.
The weight of many straws breaks a camel’s back
Don’t worry, no one within my circle of friends or family contracted the virus. It wasn’t a monumental, single, event. It was a combination of little things that floored me.
It was the loss of (my husband’s) income. The confinement during our first wedding anniversary. The thought that I had likely lost my favourite exercise class (permanently). The need to wash groceries before you bring them in, which will likely continue until we have a vaccine. The secret concern that the grapes I bought might still have the virus on them.
All the little things added up until I shed a tear last night for the little losses that have nipped away at the life I thought I had.
Hello Job, my old friend
Many moons ago when I walked in deeper valleys of depression, Job was my go-to book in the Bible. I’d like to say it’s mostly due to the poetry in it, but truth be told – when you’ve only known cloudy days for a very long time, you’re not fond of people speaking about their sunny ones.
Job cursing the day he was born is my touchstone of Christianity’s acknowledgment of our pain, and not shying away from the fact that it’s there. (Yes, I know, not all Christians believe that depression and pain should be acknowledged, but note that I am speaking about the faith, not the people.)
What’s great about Job is that it shows us that it’s ok to wrestle with grief, loss and pain. That it’s ok to turn to God and ask, “What’s up with that?”
It shows us that “pious people” (Job’s friends) have always responded with the “God’s judging you” argument, even though Job has been declared righteous in the heavenlies. Oh, and the poetry is beautiful in the way it describes God as the Creator.
It’s a long rollercoaster before we reach the answers in Job
There are a lot of chapters between the first debate and the last. Job is a patient guy up until the end, where he turns his complaint towards God and insinuates that He’s been asleep on the job. It is in this that God replies to Job.
Instead of justifying why these things have happened, God asks Job questions. Questions like, was Job around when God laid the foundations of the earth? Or organised the constellations? Does Job command the sun to rise? (Awkward silence ensues after Job puts his hand over his mouth).
After these questions, God goes into detail about how He knows and sees every detail of the earth, how it works. He delves into the beauty and the danger of the universe He created. Ultimately, God’s response highlights the fact that we’re living in an amazing world, but that it wasn’t designed to ease our suffering.
As dissatisfying as this may seem, something in God’s response humbles Job and gives him a sense of peace. Job replies,
“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;”
The hope derived from Job
In my previous post on 2020 still being a year of hope, I pointed to good things that may come from this pandemic. Job ends with his life and wealth being restored to him, and doubly so. But the hope I’m referring to, the one I turn to in difficult times is this:
When all is done, the dust settles and the new ways of life begins, there will be a deeper sense of knowing God. I will know that I have only heard of Him in the past, but now I see Him.
I will look back at this time, and the coming year(s) until Covid-19 is a thing of the past, and think, “I never want to live through it again, but I’ll not swap this time for anything in the world.”
I leave you with The Bible Project’s video on Job. It was one of the main sources used to understand the complicated book of Job.