Uncertainty . . .
My oldest son called me last night and we engaged in conversation about the Coronavirus. I expressed my concerns for his and his family’s health—they live in California, south of San Francisco—and he assured me they were washing their hands, etc., taking the necessary precautions.
We discussed all the measures being implemented nationwide to slow the spread of the virus and he asked this question, “then what?” What comes next? “No one is talking about that,” he said. He mentioned how the Doomsday Clock had been moved forward a minute (100 seconds to midnight, in actuality) due to the Coronavirus pandemic. We then began a discourse on living with uncertainty.
Being unfamiliar with the Doomsday Clock, I did a little research.
“Founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The decision to move (or to leave in place) the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 13 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies in other domains.”
I do not know the cosmological, philosophical or theological beliefs of those reading this post. I do know that each day ends, each life ends, each season ends, and so on and yet there seems for each ending, a new beginning. So, we have Hope!
However, I will confess, I have a difficult time living this truth from moment to moment. In recent days, since this pandemic was declared, I have felt frightened. The scary realities of the times in which we are currently living make me feel like I am riding a rickety raft on hurricane-driven ocean waves.
Remaining calm in a crisis seems to be a gift for some people, not me! I merely hide my turmoil well.
For the season of Lent, I have been reading a devotional published by the Berkeley County Cluster United Methodist Churches. In it several pastors centered their meditations around Psalm 121, which was one of my mother’s favorite Psalms. The following is The Passion Translation.
I look up to the mountains and hills, longing for God’s help. But then I realize that our true help and protection come only from the Lord, our Creator who made the heavens and the earth.
He will guard and guide me, never letting me stumble or fall.
God is my keeper; he will never forget nor ignore me.
He will never slumber nor sleep; he is the Guardian-God for his people, Israel.
Jehovah himself will watch over you; he’s always at your side to shelter you safely in his presence.
He’s protecting you from all danger both day and night.
He will keep you from every form of evil or calamity as he continually watches over you.
You will be guarded by God himself. You will be safe when you leave your home and safely you will return. He will protect you now, and he’ll protect you forevermore!
While I was reading it, I found myself asking, “yes, but what about all the bad stuff that happens, all the suffering, man’s inhumanity to man . . .”
As I read it over and over again, I realized the point of this beautiful Psalm is not that God is some distant, far-off deity sitting on a throne watching his subjects stumble and fall. Rather, She is right here, ever present, amidst the muck and mire, tenderly and lovingly holding us—experiencing our pain, worry, fear and uncertainty with us.
When I meditate on this realization, I can breathe deeply and feel profoundly grateful.
May it be so for you as well.