It’s funny how things can change so quickly in such a short amount of time. I first heard about this coronavirus when I was at Faith Builders Winter Term back in January. Somebody asked me what I thought about it, since I was a nurse. I stuttered a little and wondered what they were talking about? “Coronavirus,” I said, “is a virus that causes symptoms of the common cold.” I had seen it often on positive test results in the hospital. It was no big deal, nothing we ever got alarmed about.
Now practically every conversation encounters COVID-19, this world-wide pandemic of the novel coronavirus that has halted and changed normal life everywhere on planet Earth. Now we sanitize our hands in grocery stores and avoid the employees. We don’t sit in Starbucks, and we don’t go to church. I, of course, a health-care worker, still go to work, but now I have to badge through locked doors every morning and be screened for coronavirus symptoms before I go to my unit. The hallways are empty, and my patients are sad because their families aren’t allowed into the facility. I tell them that if they need someone to be their family that I will volunteer–but we both know that I can’t fill the place of the ones they have known and trusted for years. A new rule was passed that all employees at the hospital will have to wear masks at all times—and one mask must last for a week. This would never have been acceptable, I am sure, in the old days before PPE shortage was a thing. Life changes so fast. The units at work have been shifted around and combined to allow down-staffing and to create places for a potential influx of COVID patients. We have had a few, but we still wait with bated breath for the “peak”. We hear stories of the nurses who are burned out, overworked, and under-protected in NYC, and we wonder if that will be us in a few days. We keep caring for the patients in front of us, and we wait.
Yesterday I was in a patient’s room humming a hymn to keep up my courage as I emptied her catheter. “You always seem so happy,” she commented. I apologized—an odd reaction, I’m sure, but I once had a resident at a nursing home who asked me to stop singing while caring for her, because it irritated her. “No,” my patient said, “it’s nice to see someone who is happy. I don’t see that very often.”
I could have argued and said that I wasn’t so much happy as I was turning my heart to God and asking for grace and courage. I could have told her that there were so many things going on that I was feeling a little overwhelmed, and I was a little out of my comfort zone working on that unit, but that’s where I had to work since the COVID outbreak switched things up. I could have said that life was so unpredictable right now, and I wasn’t sure what would happen next—that the last couple months had included so many unexpected dynamics, and I was still trying to catch up with all of that. But I didn’t say any of that. Instead, I thought about my patient lying sick in bed, missing her family, wondering if she would get better and go home soon. I thought about how easy it was for me to move around to do my work and how simple it was to sing a hymn under my breath that reminded me of my Father who was right there with me through all the changes and will be with me through all the coming months. I thought about the song I had been humming that spoke of God giving me the strength that I need for every moment, about His kindness.
“I’m just blessed, ya know?” I told her. And it was true. I am blessed. Nothing that has happened recently has surprised my God, and nothing that will happen is unknown to Him. None of it is out of His hands. And His hands? They are so kind and so full of love. I believe that with all my heart. Even when the world is covered with a pandemic and people of all nationalities are getting sick and dying at an alarming rate, the world is still in His hands.
It’s a conversation I had with a friend one time—we were arguing about obscure theology, and we noted that the reason we got defensive so quickly was because the things we were discussing affected our view of who God our Father was. “Whoever is right,” we concluded, “it doesn’t matter as much as long as we still know fundamentally that God is a good God. Sometimes we’re scared it isn’t true, but it is. He is sovereign, and He is kind.”
“Yes,” my friend said, “He has good hands.”
I bring that to you as your blessing and comfort in this time of uncertainty. You are in His hands, and those hands are so kind and so wise. Just rest there and know that “those who wait on Him, will never be ashamed.”