The day began just like any other. I awoke expecting to have coffee with my husband before he left for work, fix the children breakfast, read stories, go for a walk—except I was troubled by a dream. It wasn’t a nightmare—but a warning. I didn’t know its significance but felt the weight of the phrase. It sizzled in my mind throughout the day.
Watch and pray.
Watch for what? Pray for whom? I spent my day wondering and contemplating as I went through our schedule. It took me three days to simply submit to this strange command and by the time I did, disaster had befallen us.
Out of the blue, my family was caught in a series of storms that threatened all we held dear. The first was a profound slashing to my husband’s salary. His employer had new obligations which resulted in a severe loss of benefits and income—effective immediately. The second was the housing crisis of 2008 which caused our precious home to hemorrhage equity—losing about 30% of its value. The third was a literal storm—a microburst that tore a 4-foot hole in the roof of our home and an insurance fiasco afterwards. Then while running errands, a car came tumbling down the highway like a bowling ball after its driver lost control. My husband swerved off the road—saving our lives but leaving us rattled. In short, every day brought new terror.
The future loomed with anxiety. The passage of time hurt. We had young children then—and there was a calendar in their room. It was a cute little thing with cube numbers that I would advance every night during our bedtime routine—it came to pass that moving that little calendar forward made me nauseous. I wanted time to stop or go backward. I did not want to endure another day.
As I reflect on these events—now more than a decade old—I still taste the fear. Feel the isolation. Remember the shame.
This dark time—which would stretch out over two years was my dismantling. Reckoning. I have never been the same since.
And that’s the point.
Just as those who are infected and recover with the Coronavirus are expected to develop antibodies to prohibit or limit future infections—affliction and suffering have the potential to do the same.
Today, COVID-19 threatens our economy, health and human relationships. Twelve years ago, my family endured a similar ravaging—only we weathered the storm in isolation—the mercy of our closest family, dearest friends and the living God our only salvation.
I trembled throughout that entire ordeal, unconvinced God saw, cared or loved. I remember saying, I believe God for eternal life, but rent’s due on the first! I didn’t believe him for that. Despite growing up in church my whole life, I didn’t even know who God was.
I was a Christian with a secular mindset. Seeing God as existing to serve my desires—especially when they were flavored with 'Jesuspice'. I thought he wanted me to be healthy, wealthy and influential. That’s what I wanted.
In truth, I didn’t value his wisdom or understand that he works all things according to the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11). All things.
I was furious (and curious) as to why God hadn’t stopped calamity from finding me—yet I had no authority to demand a divine explanation because all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and (God) does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:35)
I was powerless to save myself and powerless to condemn God. And in that wretched, fearful weakness he said, through his Word, something profound.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (1 Corinthians 12:9)
The pride and self-reliance I nurtured my whole life was ground to dust. I was dust.
We moved from the Midwest to Washington State to live with my parents. Once I got lost and drove through a rough part of town stopping in front of rundown house with tattered shutters and peeling paint. The yard was littered with trash. I thought two things: I would never want to live there. And, I couldn’t even afford to live there. I wept bitter tears that day.
But what I mourned most was the loss of a false reality and fallen gods . If my ability, education or spouse couldn't save me--I would be forced to rely on God and who knows what he would do to me! Upon reflecting, it's clear I had structured my life to avoid needing God at all.
They told me to succeed I needed a good education. I got two degrees.
They told me to marry a man with a future. I married a doctor.
They told me faith is important. I went to church.
I wasn’t promiscuous or addicted. I didn’t smoke or get drunk. I paid my bills on time and showed up early. I played by the rules of society. And I wanted my reward. Prosperity. Health. Happiness. And a side of Jesus. Obviously.
But Jesus didn't want to share me. So, his Spirit moved like a wrecking ball through my life. Disabling me, exposing the lies I believed and allowing devastating loss—including a career I had spent my life pursuing.
Today I know, it wasn’t really a wrecking ball but a scalpel that cut stone from flesh. And during post-op, God breathed life into me and my family again. Made us a strong and allowed us to love him and others in ways that weren’t possible before. And he let scars remain. Once you lose everything you know it can happen again.
Twelve years later—I’m on the precipice again. Only this time it’s not a personal pay cut and a microburst but a global pandemic that is devouring the economy and many lives. The Coronavirus is bad enough—but that little adjective ‘novel,’ imparts next-level fear—for this terror is something new, something we’ve never seen.
It took less than this to overcome my family last time—I don’t underestimate its power to snuff out lives, swallow the economy and leave an ugly scar on the face of the earth. I don’t doubt that I could be a casualty of this virus—or our business that we worked so hard to grow.
The difference is, today I know my God. And by his grace, I will fight fear every second with faith. Last time I walked the plank with limp hands and weak knees and today I stand with the old prophet Habakkuk and say:
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
"Lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles and run with endurance the race set before you. "