Imagine the disciples’ confusion when Jesus told them that He would soon leave them. They couldn’t understand what was coming, nor why it was coming. So when Jesus was arrested, they fled in confusion. When He was crucified, they mourned in deep anguish. How could they know what God was planning through what seemed like the end?
I don’t want to compare the current pandemic with the horrific execution of our Lord, but I think some of what the disciples experienced is similar to what we’re feeling. The world as they knew it had changed forever. The One they had trusted with their future seemed to be gone. It was overwhelming.
We are also overwhelmed by the near-daily changes around us.
We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air. (Berinato, 2020)
So much change can be frightening, but there is peace in understanding that God is in control of the change, both instigating and completing it. And we know that what He does, He does out of love for us. So we can find rest in the knowledge that the change, no matter how unpleasant or even painful, has a purpose that will ultimately be better than no change.
"There is an appointed time for everything….A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance." (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4)
It is easy to lose sight of God’s plan during the “time to weep” but God’s promise is sure, even in our uncertainty and doubt.
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet, so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
"…we’re also feeling anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief is that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain. Usually it centers on death. We feel it when someone gets a dire diagnosis or when we have the normal thought that we’ll lose a parent someday. Anticipatory grief is also more broadly imagined futures. There is a storm coming. There’s something bad out there. With a virus, this kind of grief is so confusing for people. Our primitive mind knows something bad is happening, but you can’t see it. This breaks our sense of safety. We’re feeling that loss of safety. I don’t think we’ve collectively lost our sense of general safety like this. Individually or as smaller groups, people have felt this. But all together, this is new. We are grieving on a micro and a macro level. (Berinato, 2020)
Similarly, the disciples saw Jesus die and looked toward a future without Him. They were fearful - their leader had been arrested and killed, would they be also? They were sorrowful - their friend and mentor was gone, how would they continue without Him? If they had been in charge, Jesus would never have been crucified!
But imagine what that would mean for us. These times of sorrow and mourning are necessary for God to complete His promises to us! It is difficult to stay the course when we can’t see where the course is headed. But it is vital that we do because God is directing it to a place that will ultimately be better than where we are now. In a world in upheaval it seems there is nothing we can count on. But God’s word is sure. Always. Even in the midst of a global pandemic.
The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the Word of the Lord abides forever. (1 Peter 1:24-25a)
Scott Berinato, “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief” Harvard Business Review, n.p. web, March 23, 2020