Life can change completely in an instant.
Many of us are probably well acquainted with this idea. A tiny niggling pain, a doctor’s visit, a diagnosis – and suddenly, nothing will ever be the same again.
We constantly live on the edge of this uncertainty. All of us – every day, every minute.
COVID-19, Chronic Illness, and Uncertainty
For as long as I can remember, I have known I will not have my mum forever, and yet that split second phone call during my lunch break when I heard she had a mass in her pancreas still changed everything.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve devoured books where dramatic things happen. Kids die too young, people are wounded in battle, last minute inheritances save the day, all is lost and all is rescued over and over again. Yet I still remember exactly where I was when I found out that my ten-year-old friend had died suddenly from an undiagnosed brain tumor.
Likewise, I suspect that while many of us may “know” the speed with which reality can be remade, these past few weeks of COVID-19 have also come as a bit of shock. No one really expects a pandemic. Not many people imagine that soon their actions – perhaps already severely curtailed by disease or circumstances – will be hedged further by governments seeking to prevent disaster.
Oh my friends, I feel for all of you who struggle so much already with everyday life, and who are now faced with even greater uncertainty, even more complications, and ever duplicating fears. There are so many questions for which none of us have answers.
Will we be able to obtain the medicine that we or our loved ones need? Will our loved ones get ill? Will they survive? Will we survive? How will they attend their necessary appointments? How will we all stay sane during periods of isolation or too-close habitation?
Will the world ever be the same again? When will all this end? What’s next?
The list could go on. There’s both too much to say and not enough to say about this crisis creeping across our world.
Here are 3 things I’ve been reflecting on and found a comfort:
1. COVID-19 is Simply Revealing our Normal State
Each of us, all the time, live precariously. It’s easy to forget this – to forget just how quickly the world can be remade, how easily all the future can be undone. We are but dust and ashes, and so, so fragile. All this pandemic has done is pull back the veil a little. Right now everyone of us is being confronted with the reality of our existence simultaneously: It is uncertain. It is unknown. It is terrifying.
And so what? Do we sit and wait around for the world to end in either a bang or a whimper? Do we throw in the towel or prepare for an apocalypse? You could. People do. But isn’t there a better way?
2. COVID-19 is Giving us a Chance to Decide How to Respond
Everything has changed, yet nothing has changed. I find this comforting. Life always was uncertain, always has been terrifying. This pandemic gives us the opportunity to see clearly and to decide how we will respond – not just to the current crisis, but to the remainder of our unstable lives.
For the first time in a while, everyone is feeling the stress and uncertainty that perhaps marks many of our daily lives. Perhaps we who have lived with the unknowns of chronic illness are in a place to comfort those for whom all this is new and overwhelming.
I understand how this is terrifying for you, I’ve often felt that way over the years when I’ve struggled with the ups and downs of _______________.
You’re right, it can be really tough to have all your plans uprooted. I know I am often quite upset when I can’t make social gatherings because of ________________.
Yes, it’s frustrating when every day products aren’t available. I often feel quite stressed when I’m not sure if I can get my medication or my_______________ in time.
It could be easy to feel bitter or self-righteous when the circumstances you’ve struggled with for years are the ones suddenly everyone is experiencing and grappling with. My hope is that we can turn these feelings into constructive ways to reach out to one another in love.
3. COVID-19 Doesn’t Need to Change Anything
God was the answer when life seemed safe, and He remains the answer now that we know it is not. In this respect, nothing has changed.
And so we march on. As we always have. Wavering on the precipice of eternity, hands held out to Jesus. Doing human things, living human lives. Loving others and knowing that for this minute, we are alive – all minutes have been carefully woven into the very material of the universe by the Master Craftsman.
What is unknown to us is known by the One who knows us and makes Himself known.
*First published at calledtowatch.com. **Republished with permission.
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Emily J. Maurits
Chronic Joy® Contributing Writer
After working for several years in the public health sector, Emily is now studying theology. She believes we are all called to love suffering people, because that's what Jesus did. She is passionate about equipping and encouraging others to do just that, and founded www.calledtowatch.com for the family and friends of those with chronic illnesses. As well as uncovering God's presence in the chaos of life, she enjoys reading, running and writing, with her memoir coming out next year.