It’s so sad, so depressing, so hard to talk about. Losing. I have my fair share of family members who don’t like to. I’m sure you do too. They play to win!
But sometimes, it’s just “not in the cards.”
The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has millions of people shuffling their plans around, shuffling their feet around their homes as they try to make sense of where we are right now. Months in, wintertime, it is time that we dig in and delve into hard feelings like grief, anxiety, depression and loss. We must first begin with the confession that the Church in North America and perhaps elsewhere has a difficult time talking about certain topics. Labeled taboo, we might serve the “Word made flesh” but we certain don’t want to flesh out anything that makes us uncomfortable. But this is problematic for Millennials and Generation Z who share their entire lives online with friends and complete strangers.
For good or for ill, they want it all out in the open and they want to talk about everything.
Generational differences aside, the writer of Ecclesiastes balances the conversation writing there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (3.7b). More than one million people have died from this deadly virus and millions more have been infected, including the President of the United States. It is time to speak. Baptist News reported in September that during the pandemic of 1919, “most church records were oddly silent.” Yes, it is odd.
Why do people of faith, resurrection people even, fall oddly silent in the face of death and loss?
Besides, not talking about it will not make it go away. There is an entire book in the Bible dedicated to difficult times, to hard feelings. Though not matching our context or culture, I am certain that you can identify with the emotions expressed. Right after Jeremiah, known as “the weeping prophet,” is the book of Lamentations. The writer says to the children of Israel, “For these things I weep; my eyes flow with tears; for a comforter is far from me, one to revive my courage” (1.16).
The writer has a list. He is keeping a running tab of all the things that causes stress, agony and pain. The hymn writer encourages us to “count our blessings.” But how do we do that during a pandemic? You don’t have to choose one over the other; one does not cancel out the other. We can and do experience both grief and gratitude. They go hand in hand.