When I told my husband I wanted to encourage people during this worldwide pandemic, he told me I probably shouldn’t come out of the gates with, “There’s a 100% chance we’re all going to die.”
I only kind of agree.
Because here’s the thing: We all still die. There’s a 100% chance.
But what percent chance are we going to live?
See, specifically being raised in the West through a Judeo-Christian worldview, in a culture that has fought hard to believe we can have what we want, when and how we want it, we’ve believed we could also keep pain, discomfort, the unknown, and namely death, at arm’s length.
But if you live in fear of death, you’re dead already. I’ll repeat that: if fear of death keeps you from living and loving fully TODAY, you aren’t alive anyway.
Obsessive thinking about our physical death sucks the oxygen from the gift of life today. This was one of the key lessons Jesus was declaring long ago but it got lost in translation amidst all the doctrinal statements.
Our son Noah was never given a medical diagnosis while on a ventilator in the ICU over the span of 5 months. Doctors all over the world, experts at the CDC, were all working to figure it out, but there weren’t answers and without a diagnosis in Western medicine, there’s no course for treatment.
To me this was insane! In a zillion dollar industry with all the high-tech equipment and testing, why wasn’t there an answer? I didn’t care that diagnostic tests kept coming back inconclusive, just do something! My kid was sick and dying in the hospital and brilliant humans around the world couldn’t figure out WHY or HOW to fix it?!
As a theologian I figured it was up to me to take things to a higher level. Jesus healed people and said we’d do greater things than him, so I took this as a baton passing. Faith. I had faith. I could heal this sick kid…except my faith wasn’t working the way my theology had trained me.
By attempting to turn over every stone, I believed I could make this painful, hellish reality miraculously disappear.
Making peace with what I couldn’t control gave me a new perspective.
There was no diagnosis, therefore there wasn’t a specific cure I could rally behind, raise funds for, or organization I could support to stop this from happening to Noah or someone else.
I discovered a common thread of humanity instead of trying to dial in what made Noah unique. Our son will die, like every human being on the earth, and there’s no “cure” for physical death.
It may seem strange to experience profound peace around the realization that you aren’t in control of the Universe or that your child is going to pass away, but when I made peace with Noah’s impending death, I also made an even more profound choice for life. This peace has transformed my perspective and carried me through LIFE the last 13+ years since Noah died.
It’s taught me to be present, intentional, authentic…it’s a peace that informs my relationships, how I treat strangers, and how I view the world. It’s a peace and perspective through which I read scripture to the simplest, most profound level:
· Love God
· Love your neighbor
· Love yourself
The rest of the laws and scripture, even Jesus said, didn’t matter without Love.
And how we love matters.
You guys, we are wired for community. We were literally designed to function as one body with many parts, so belonging on any given day matters just as much as in a time of crisis. Feeling like you can be a source of peace, love, calm, or encouragement to someone in crisis isn’t selfish on your part, it’s innate.
HOW we show up for each other matters. We are all quarantined so showing up for each other will look different, but we’re still a body that needs to function together.
This is where the rubber meets the road, where the actual gospel of loving our neighbors and “enemies” comes into play. Where we focus on life, today, rather than death or tomorrow. No more silo-ing up or living in fear of those neighbors next door who voted differently than you. Do they need food? Feed them. Do they need water? Give them a drink. Do they need a roll of TP? Give them one of the hundreds you stockpiled for the end of the world…ask yourself what you might need and then take the initiative and do it for them. It’s called empathy. No one cares about your doctrine or what you believe…they will know the love of God by how you treat them. Period.
Whether today or years from now is our last physical day on earth, THAT we love one another is what matters. And in love we find the absence of fear.