I don’t know about you but, this Christmas season was very unusual for us. Up until recently we had not been personally touched by COVID-19. Being responsible citizens, we, of course, had worn our masks in public places, avoided large crowds and curtailed large gatherings of friends in our home so, in those ways, COVID had affected us. And, we had certainly heard of people who had come down with the virus who were several layers away from our immediate family and circle of friends, but other than that, COVID had not yet reached its dreaded tendrils into the flesh of our family life. This Christmas, all that changed. We found ourselves having to navigate the uncertainty of antibody tests, nasal swabs, and quarantines as we discovered person after person in our circle who had been affected.
First, we began to hear of close church friends who had the virus, then, a member of our daughter’s boyfriend’s family. Next, my son’s in-laws. This was all unfolding as Christmas was approaching and family was flying down for the holidays. Making decisions about who can and cannot join us on Christmas day and who has to stay out on the back porch as we pass their gifts out to them (Yes, we did that) was stressful and heart-wrenching. It was really the first time I felt helpless and at a loss as to how to handle the situation. We wrestled with questions like: Is this finger prick test reliable? If I am positive for antibodies how long am I immune? Can someone with antibodies who has been around a person with COVID transfer the virus? So many questions…very few solid answers. There were tears, anxiety and disappointment. Our son and his wife left early to fly back to their home in the northeast. It made this mama’s heart sad to miss celebrating his birthday with him as we had planned. It was a very disappointing, and atypical Christmas for us. But even with COVID dampening our spirits, we tried to keep our focus on the true meaning of Christmas—the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I know we were not the only ones navigating these uncertain COVID waters. Christmas was different this year for many of our friends. As the dust settles now in the new year I feel a bit sad and disappointed that our Christmas celebration wasn’t what I had hoped, but also, relieved—relieved that the holiday is over and we are back to the day-to-day routine that we’ve become accustomed to since first hearing the term COVID-19.
In the light of our recent experiences with COVID I have come to certain realizations that I’d like to share with you:
- We cannot necessarily be clean enough, vigilant enough, compliant enough nor distant enough, to be absolutely sure we do not come in contact with COVID-19. Why? Because we are not in control. God is in control! We can do our best according to the knowledge that we have but then—we have to trust God with our health and safety. Trusting in God is the only way we can have peace to move forward in a world turned upside-down by a worldwide pandemic.
- Believers have an unprecedented opportunity to exhibit peace to the lost world in the face of uncertainty and danger. There has never been a time when people have been more fearful and uncertain about their own life and health and that of their loved ones. We can show the unbelieving world that our hope and faith are in Jesus Christ and that by putting their faith in Him, they too can have this peace and the hope of eternal life.
- God has not left the building. God was not surprised by COVID-19. He knew it was coming and he knows how this will all turn out. He will continue to work his plan in the lives of believers and in the world itself.
- Our mission has not changed. We are to be salt and light— the hands and feet of Jesus to the needy, the hurting and the dying. Many people are scared, confused, angry and hopeless in these times. We are to be the face of love and hope to them.
Maybe next year our Christmas will once again be the joyful, carefree family celebration that it has always been. No one watching the festivities from the back porch. No one flying home early to avoid being exposed. Lots of extended family around the table for Christmas dinner. But for now, I am just grateful. Grateful for the gift of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Grateful for the hope I have in him. Grateful for every day I get to spend with my husband and children.
And, grateful that although I do not know what the future holds, I know who holds the future!
Happy New Year! Find a way this week to spread love, grace, positivity and hope…someone is in desperate need of your gift.