9God said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
As we begin emerging from the pandemic, we’re starting to get some perspective. You can’t do that when you’re in the thick of things, but with some breathing space now, we’re beginning to get a handle on things – at least enough to take stock on where we were; where we are; and what we’ve lost.
Which is a lot. The human response to loss is grief. When you’ve lost something you really love, it hurts. And the greater the loss, the greater the pain.
I’ve read – and it rings true to my own experience – that it takes 3-5 years to fully come to terms with a major loss. During the pandemic, some of us lost someone we love. All of us lost some things we love. All of us are grieving. There’s probably not been this level of worldwide grief since World War II. All of us have been forever changed. We all grieving and processing the trauma caused by Covid-19.
That’s why everyone is so cranky, stressed, and struggling. The human race has just gone 18 rounds with death. That’s why you’re so tired. That’s why your house is such a mess. You’re exhausted. But you’re ALIVE. Thanks be to God, you have survived, which is no minor miracle.
The word “survive” means “to live through.” You’ve lived through a pandemic. You’ve successfully made it through one of the worst disasters in human history. Given that, doesn’t it make sense that you’re stressed out? When you’ve wrestled King Kong for over a year, doesn’t it make sense that you’re tired? You’ve kept yourself AND your loved ones afloat. You’ve held down your job AND homeschooled your kids. You along with 6 billion other souls have kept something called human civilization functioning while under direct assault from a worldwide biological threat. No woman after childbirth is fashion magazine cover perfect. None of us should expect perfection from ourselves after what we’ve been through. So don’t torture yourself – especially when there is something far healthier and more perfect that we can embrace.
Having suffered – being broken – either or both oddly makes us finally ready to be our best. People who’ve suffered heartache and loss often emerge from their travail with greater capacities for compassion, patience, generosity, forgiveness, gentleness, and love.
The most successful foreign policy initiative in American history was the Marshall Plan. After the worldwide calamity of World War II, Americans were war-weary, but post-war Europe was starving. So, America went the extra mile: Through the Marshall Plan, America fed Europe – allies AND enemies. No exceptions. The result was the most peaceful period in European history, which continues to this day. Winston Churchill called the Marshall Plan: “The most unsordid thing in all of human history.”
What if we came out of the worldwide calamity of this pandemic and did likewise? Instead of being hyper-partisan and ultra-nationalistic and hating “the other” what if we chose to love the other? What if we treated refugees not as parasites, but as people? What if we really followed Jesus by loving our neighbors – allies, enemies, no exceptions – as we love ourselves?
What if the pandemic is not a stumbling block dooming us to greater meanness, but a springboard which can launch us to greater compassion? What if the Bible is right? What if God’s power truly comes through our weakness and wounds; our sadnesses and setbacks? What if crucifixion really does give rise to Resurrection?
If that is so, then let us rejoice. And let us open ourselves to the future God seeks to give us.
Are you a big, hot mess right now? Good. If you were “perfect” and had no need for God, then you would have no need for God. And God’s deeds of goodness would not come alive through you. Your “perfect” life would preclude you from becoming a better you – the best you – which is who you are when you are animated by compassion; when your brokenness is pulsing with the resurrecting impulse to bless, embrace, and love God and your neighbor. Forgiving the unforgiveable. Loving the unlovely. Embracing the untouchable. Your “weakness” allows God’s greatness to arise. Your brokenness opens the possibility for such beauty to flourish. Your crucifixions enable such Resurrections.
So, don’t look down on your imperfections, your fatigue, your failures, or anything else about you that you perceive as a problem. In God’s hands, your worst days can become the delivery room for your best self. God’s will is to turn all our dark nights into Easter dawns. All we need to do is look to God whose salvation is here; who loves you just as you are; whose power will be made manifest in this suffering world and whose love will be made perfect in you.
In reading this, your heart may be stirred. What you’re feeling is the Holy Spirit drawing you to Christ. To begin or renew a relationship with Jesus, just pray:
“Lord, help me receive your love. I regret the wrong I’ve done. Forgive me. Jesus, I believe you are God’s Son and the Savior of the world. Be my Savior. Save me from myself. Save me for yourself. Enter my heart. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Help me to serve you faithfully and well. Help me to love as you love. Lead me in your Way, Truth, and Life now and forever. Continue to show me who you are and who I am in you. Amen.”
Jesus says: “Behold, I make all things new.” The good news is that that definitely includes YOU!