Hard Pressed but Not Crushed in the Pandemic
I unbuckled and climbed out of my front seat to crouch in the space between our daughter and son. I looked up at my one- and two-year-old children strapped into their car seats and wondered how I could best protect them from the storm raging around us, rocking our vehicle as we tried to drive to safety.
We were in the middle of nearly 100 mile-per-hour winds, flash flooding, downed trees and power lines, ambulances screeching, widespread power outages, and little visibility. I needed to calm them from the sound of the driving rain and shrieking sirens and the sight of rogue objects flying in front of our windshield. Cars around us were veering and braking suddenly as huge branches were ripped from trees and falling on the road in front of us.
“How can I get us to safety if we crash and my husband dies?” Even the toys cutting into my knees could not distract me from my racing thoughts. “How can I cover them both with my body?”
My family was on a road trip when we ran headfirst into the derecho that devastated Iowa on August 10, 2020. We were in the middle of blue skies when my mom texted to warn us, though no one knew yet the destruction of this storm would be unprecedented (anybody tired of that word yet?). We realized we were, miraculously, about ten miles from my brother-in-law’s new house and decided to head there. The next minutes felt like an eternity.
Our daughter was covering her ears with her two beloved stuffed bunnies, hand-knit by my mom and stretched thin from playing. Her enormous hazel eyes were filling with tears as she scrunched her whole face and shouted, “I don’t want this anymore, Mama!”
I held her as tightly as I could and began praying out loud, asking for God’s protection and for the Holy Spirit to fill our vehicle with powerful peace.
I held my daughter’s face, told her to look into my eyes, and repeated over and over, “God is in control. God is here, and he is in control.” She started to say it with me and her tears stopped. My own didn’t start until we pulled into my brother-in-law’s garage and the screech of the storm finally dimmed.
Psalm 57:1 says, “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.” My family’s blue skies were turned into a howling storm that day, but God gave us the shelter we needed.
We are all living through an enormous storm right now. A global pandemic is threatening our health, polarizing society, fracturing our relationships, and keeping us physically distant. Satan is preying on the chaos, confusion, dissension, and fear. Anxiety is a weed that won’t be killed, ever-present in our conversations and lurking in our minds.
The unknown and isolation are gnawing away at us. The waves of grief come steadily as we watch our lives veer farther and farther from the view we had last March.
As mothers, we mourn the ways this virus has permeated every aspect of our children’s lives. Jesus came to give us life to the full so why does it feel like God is allowing our lives to be emptied, drop by drop?
Maybe you, like me, have been praying for a dead stop of this pandemic. We want desperately for God to deliver us from COVID-19 and return our lives to how they were before masks became staples for our diaper bags. Scripture confirms that God hears us when we pray, so what we know now is that he is either saying, “No,” or “Wait.” We are constantly experiencing the pointed edges of our broken world, and this pandemic is razor sharp.
But the gospel responds with these two truths that glimmer brightly against the backdrop of chaos:
1. God provides eternal shelter for believers
The hope of redemption tells us that in every storm, we can turn our eyes to the refuge God is providing. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 comforts, “We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.”
We are being hard pressed on every side. But Jesus himself has already covered us with his own body. His death, resurrection, and ascension provide an unshakable anchor of hope for believers. There is no height, depth, or anything else in all of creation that can separate us from the love of God, including global pandemics. Through faith, we receive eternal shelter from the ravaging of this world.
2. God redeems all that is lost
In Joel 2:25, God promises, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.”
The losses we are experiencing were not unforeseen by God. He knew Satan would delight in the breaking of relationships. He knew political divides would create invisible landmines out of everyday activities. He intimately knew and created every life that would be lost to this disease. But he allowed this suffering, knowing all along that he would use it for our good. God weaves glory out of grief and triumph out of desolation. He forges holy iron from molten misery. He will restore to us all that has been taken, either here on earth or in Heaven.
With these perspectives in mind, our “what ifs” are replaced with “even thens.” What if it takes years before things feel normal again? Even then, Jesus will redeem those years and use them for his purposes. What if we lose our jobs? Even then, God will provide all that we need. What if someone we love dies because of the virus? Even then, God’s perfect sovereignty will have the final word.
We are in the time of the locusts, my friends. The plague is ravaging the landscapes we know and love. But take heart: you will not be crushed. Find refuge from the winds under the body of Christ and look forward with the hope of redemption.
It was wonderful to meet Sally Burke, Moms in Prayer President, at the Valley Christmas Hope event in Iowa. I have been digging into the copy of Raise Them Up Sally signed for me and clinging to the prayer guides for my children. My prayer life changed in color and urgency the day I became a mother. Although my kids are not yet in school, Moms in Prayer has already been a great resource to me.
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Lindsey Norine has a passion for words—reading them, writing them, and dumping out 40,000 of them with friends over a coffee. Lindsey strives to serve and love the women around her, particularly mamas who need to hear that they are seen, known, and deeply loved. Lindsey is married to Carter, her crush from church camp who grew up to be a children’s pastor. Together they have Vera (two years) and Barrett (one year) and live in central Iowa. You can read more on lindseynorine.com and follow her on Instagram @lindsnorine.