Riding the Waves of Pandemic Emotions (4/4) - Finding Meaning

After discussing the kinds of grief we’re facing, and how we can manage that grief, Kessler talks about one more element in our experience: Finding meaning.

"I did not want to stop at acceptance when I experienced some personal grief. I wanted meaning in those darkest hours. And I do believe we find light in those times. Even now people are realizing they can connect through technology. They are not as remote as they thought. They are realizing they can use their phones for long conversations. They’re appreciating walks. I believe we will continue to find meaning now and when this is over."(Berinato, 2020)

It may seem trite to say, “every cloud has a silver lining,” but because God is at work in it, you can be sure that He is going to bring good out of even the most trying situation. This is not to say that you should not feel depressed or anxious during these times. But as you lean on God for peace through your depression or anxiety, look for evidences of His work.

Churches are learning how to reach beyond their walls. Families who were too busy to eat a meal together, now spend their evenings playing board games. At CEF, learning to minister on-line will help us reach more children, including those in remote areas, and CYIA from all over the province have been “together” more in the past month than ever before!

Good things coming out of bad things does not make the bad things good. But it is evidence that God does, in fact, have a purpose in them.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Looking for those evidences and asking God how we can be part of what He’s doing will bring meaning to the suffering, to loneliness and pain. This does not mean that you won’t, or that you shouldn’t, feel what you’re feeling.

It’s important we acknowledge what we go through. One unfortunate byproduct of the self-help movement is we’re the first generation to have feelings about our feelings. We tell ourselves things like, I feel sad, but I shouldn’t feel that; other people have it worse. We can — we should — stop at the first feeling. I feel sad. Let me go for five minutes to feel sad. Your work is to feel your sadness and fear and anger whether or not someone else is feeling something. Fighting it doesn’t help because your body is producing the feeling. If we allow the feelings to happen, they’ll happen in an orderly way, and it empowers us. Then we’re not victims….It’s absurd to think we shouldn’t feel grief right now. Let yourself feel the grief and keep going. (Berinato, 2020)

As you acknowledge the feelings and the pain, trust God and ask Him to open your eyes to what He’s doing. Once you see God’s hand at work, you will find your pain a little easier to bear. You will find meaning in each day, a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and your heart will want to praise Him, even though it’s struggling under the weight of the world.

"For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken." (Psalm 62:5-7)

Yes, others have it worse. That doesn’t invalidate what you’re going through. It should, however, give you reason to reach out and help those who have it worse. Pray for them. Drop food off for those who can’t get out. Send cards in the mail. Reach out in whatever way you can to meet the needs you see. If you feel like you can’t do anything, do not underestimate the value of prayer! Prayer is a powerful weapon you can use against pain, against loneliness, against fear. You can make a difference.

"Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2)

"For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for His name in serving the saints, as you still do." (Hebrews 6:10)

"And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’" (Matthew 25:40)

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:12)

Ask God how He wants to use you in the work that He’s doing during this pandemic. That is where you will find meaning and the balance that we see so often in Scripture, where believers cry out to God, praise Him, always pointing to the God of glory who is still in control!

"As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.

I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?

Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours?”

My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!

Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar.

I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.

But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.

“O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?”

Their taunts break my bones. They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!"

Psalm 42


Scott Berinato, “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief” Harvard Business Review, n.p. web, March 23, 2020

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