My husband read from our morning devotional, recounting the history of one of the brave souls who survived the Inquisition–Johann (Hausschein) Oekolampadius. He held fast to his Biblically-anchored faith, and yet by the grace of God he lived on to eventually die a natural death. The words he quietly spoke repeatedly on his deathbed seized my heart. They are intimate, and they reveal a recognition that the Lord is as near as our very breath.
“Have mercy upon me, O God, have mercy upon me!”
Death feels near. Not only this pandemic, but the high risk my autoimmune diseases produce, particularly the Lupus and RA combo called UCTD. I take my medications faithfully, as I have for the past five years. Plus, my husband and I are careful, we wash our hands, we distance, we wear masks, all while attempting not to be germophobic in a pandemic.
The US contains a mere 4.25% of planet Earth’s population. And yet, sadly, we have 25.8% of all COVID19 cases, with 4,834,546 Americans who have been or are currently sick. We have more cases than any other nation.
Given those facts, we often feel that our country must be teeming with sick people. Yet, only 1.42% of us have been infected by SARS-CoV-2, essentially 3 out of every 200. Many more are undiagnosed and perhaps asymptomatic. If we calculate those, then the percentage is even lower.
And yet, we must follow safety measures, so that our hospitals aren’t overrun as we’re attempting to reach herd immunity as safely as possible. Experts at the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins warn against rushing this.
“If many people become sick with COVID-19 at once, the health care system could quickly become overwhelmed. This amount of infection could also lead to serious complications and millions of deaths, especially among older people and those who have chronic conditions” (Mayo Clinic).
Remember morgue trucks and hospital tents in Central Park? A much smaller version of that happened in our region recently. As the wealthiest nation in the world, how did this happen? We’re fighting a wiley beast of a virus. Yet, so far, our efforts have been feeble, and we’re paying for it.
Death is near. And yet, as with the brave man during the Inquisition, the Lord is even nearer, as close as our breath, inside our heads, filling our bodies with his Spirit, never leaving and never forsaking, even in death.
People with chronic illnesses are struggling. Not only are we high risk for complications, but we’re often questioned/interrogated on social media. People argue with us about safety measures and herbs and medications, having no idea that we’ve had years of acquaintance with hydroxychloroquine — an anti-malarial drug as well as a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug, or DMARD. I began taking it early in 2015.
When a virus is new and a disease emergent for the first time in human history, it requires researchers to test, to challenge, and to change their earliest assumptions. We now have good research completed since the virus hit. Scientists and doctors learn new things and adapt to what they’ve now learned. This is how scientific research works and why advice changes.
At the beginning, experts thought masks wouldn’t work, but now we’ve lost 158,445 loved ones. To slow down the deaths, to hopefully eradicate them, they now recommend masks, lest we’re asymptomatic and lest that cough or sniffle be but the beginning. Perhaps people of high risk are near.
This isn’t the first time we’ve worn masks. During the influenza pandemic of 1918-1920, “Most people complied, but some resisted (or poked holes in their masks to smoke).” Prevention is still our best tactic. These are facts.
Pandemics provide a plethora of new information for researchers, because so many have COVID-19. It was through pandemic research that the use of corticosteroids was discovered. This is good news for high-risk people.
One study was released in May 2020 by the US National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health, here, providing a wealth of information about treatments.
Another article in layman’s terms pertaining to both treatment and preventative care was released in April 2020 by MDVip, here.
If you’re high risk, and yet you’re still asked by family and friends to explain the whys of your doctors’ orders, share these articles with them.
All of this is overwhelming, and we often feel exhausted. I’m a walking ready-to-overflow bucket of tears. Yet, we know God is good, and we are his. He is our hope. “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11 ESV).
God is with us, and he is faithful and kind. He feels our pain. He’s there when we breathe in, when we breathe out, and when we stop breathing.God is with us, and he is faithful and kind. He feels our pain. He's there when we breathe in, when we breathe out, and when we stop breathing. #Faith #TrustGod Click To Tweet
To follow doctor’s orders doesn’t mean “you’re afraid.” It means you’re wise. Fear prompts self preservation, motivating us to take preventative actions. Fear informs us when we need to protect ourselves and others.
David penned, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3). Notice that it says “when,” not “if.” When I am afraid, I will trust the Lord.
Trust means that no matter how we feel, we still believe that the Lord is in control, that he loves us, and that he will orchestrate all things together for our good, no matter what happens. Even death.Trust means that no matter how we feel, we still believe that the Lord is in control, that he loves us, and that he will orchestrate all things together for our good, no matter what happens. Even death. #TrustGod Click To Tweet
One of my favorite Biblical prayers was voiced during a time of fear, when a father asked the Lord to heal his son and begged this of the Savior:
“Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24).
The verse the survivor of the Inquisition quoted as he died came from Psalm 51, a favorite.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin! (Psalm 51:1,2)
God’s mercy isn’t contingent upon our faithfulness, but upon his. His love is steadfast, it never wavers, and it never fails, even when we’re afraid. His mercy is abundant, overflowing and always ready to forgive. Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead, allow us to be cleansed of our iniquity. Therefore, we can cry out: “Have mercy on me, O God!”
When we ask we receive God’s mercy, his forgiveness for our mistakes and wrongs — both intentional and the wrongs that leak out of us unintentionally, merely because we’ve human. God’s love is so abundant that he blots out the transgressions of those who place their faith in him.
“Have mercy upon me, O God, have mercy upon me!”When we ask, we receive God's mercy, his forgiveness for our mistakes and wrongs — both intentional and the wrongs that leak out of us unintentionally, merely because we've human. Have mercy upon me, O God. Click To Tweet God's mercy isn't contingent upon our faithfulness, but upon his. His love is steadfast, it never wavers, and it never fails, even when we're afraid. His mercy is abundant, overflowing and always ready to forgive. #TrustGod Click To Tweet
The brave soul immortalized in our morning devotional encapsulated the entire psalm in his repeated plaintive plea. God doesn’t require long, wordy prayers. He is present with us. His mercy is rich and abundant. It endures forever. The Lord provided the best of all short and powerful prayers.
We’re all broken, flawed, and selfish human beings. The Lord wants to cleanse us of our iniquities, our mistakes, our wrong words and actions. Not only that, he wants to heal our inner selves, our souls, our very essence.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
LET THE BONES THAT YOU HAVE BROKEN REJOICE.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:7-12).
With loving intentions, the Lord oversees even the breaking of bones — the coming of trials, the onslaught of sickness, the spread of a pandemic, the challenges of life on this planet, and the aching of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
“Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy!”
All of these trials are reminders of our desperate need for Jesus. Freely, we can turn to him in our pain, sorrow, and suffering. We, too, can cry out to the Lord of our “broken bones” to have mercy on us and to sustain us.
My life is in his hands. Your life is in his hands. God will use whatever touches us to bring us closer to him in relationship and one day to usher us into his courts where we will see him face to face.My life is in his hands. Your life is in his hands. God will use whatever touches us to bring us closer to him in relationship and one day to usher us into his courts where we will see him face to face. Click To Tweet
Where are you on this journey through this dark time? Have you been battling fear, and if so, how are you trusting God in your anxiety?
Are you one who is asked repeatedly to explain your health to others who seem not to understand? How does that make you feel?