I have a recurring task set up on my computer’s “to-do” program for noon, every Tuesday. At that time, I get a reminder that pops up on my screen that says “Let the Dog Out.” On Tuesdays, before the pandemic, Lori would go all day to the Twin Cities for her work. And because we didn’t want to risk our dog not being let out to do…you know…what dogs do when they go outside, I’d quickly drive the 1 mile back to the house and let the dog out.
And then the pandemic hit. Now, months later, Lori is still working at home 5 days a week, and I have not had to come home to let the dog out.
But still, every Tuesday, the reminder pops up on my screen that says “Let the Dog Out.” And every week for the last year, I’ve clicked the little button to make the “to-do” item disappear, and I’ve said to myself “not this week.” And I’ve sighed.
I suppose I could have deleted the task from my list. But to be honest, I don’t mind getting this weekly reminder. Because on Tuesdays when my computer beeps and the little box shows up on my screen, it is a reminder that there was a “before” the pandemic, and it is a reassurance that there will be an “after” the pandemic.
If you talk to someone who works in the area of mental health, they will tell you of the increasing number of people who are struggling because of isolation and loneliness. If you talk with a chemical dependency specialist, they will confirm that the number of people whose dependency issues are turning destructive is growing. And if you talk to a pastor, one of us will tell you that there is a sense of hopelessness in some people that worries us. Many people I have spoken with have told me about God feeling distant, or maybe hidden, and unclear, hard to recognize.
I have two thoughts:
First, this pandemic will end. It will. None of us know exactly when yet, but we have confidence that it will end. There are vaccines that are in the works, and “herd immunity” is approaching. We will get past this.
Second, God is at work in the midst of this. Sometimes it is hard to see God at work. This is not because God hides, but rather because I struggle to see. I forget to pause and name what God is up to in our midst.
- The researchers who have created the vaccines? God is working through them.
- The doctors, nurses, medical staff and administrators and first-responders who care for the sick? Yep, that is God at work.
- Family members who care for their loved ones who have contracted COVID? They are the hands and feet of God.
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”Hebrews 11:1
This scripture reminds us that God is at work, even when God seems distant, or out of reach. In fact, I would argue that God is closest to us, when we are farthest from God. It is when we cannot see, hear or understand what God is up to that God seeks us out and walks alongside us. It is in our struggle that God does God’s best and most important work.
We are just about at the one year mark of when the world began turning in on itself. A year is a long, long time.
Know that you have not been alone during this time. Know that you are not alone today. And know that in the days to come, you will not be alone. Jesus walks alongside you.
Trust in that, even in the hard days. Trust in that when God feels distant. Trust in that when trust is hard to find.
And in the meantime, I’m going to leave “Let the dog out” on my to-do list and let it keep reminding me that a new day is coming.
Trust friends. God is with you.