I had to sit and be quiet for a couple of days to reflect, pray and be thoughtful in my wording.   According to John Hopkins 102,323 people have died in the United States as a result of COVID-19. In 90 days (February 29 –May 29) there has been that many COVID-19 related deaths. That is staggering. It has taken my breath away and when I think about the ripple effect of grief that extends beyond my comprehension. Grief refers to “the process of experiencing the psychological, behavioral, social and physical reactions to loss.”  Mourning is the “cultural and/or public display of grief through one’s behavior.”   We need to acknowledge the deep grief that has and continues to be experienced by many, many, many people.  We need to be mindful of how those who are grieving express their pain so we can be supportive. There is no political statement here. I don’t know if it serves us well to even debate the “what ifs.” I’m also willing to argue that the “what ifs” only serve to help us avoid the pain of death and loss we are experiencing. There will be a time for reflection of lessons learned when we have walk through this valley.

For the Wismers, we’ve been insulated.  We have friends and know people who have family members – sons and daughters, grandchildren, parents and grandparents – who have been infected by the virus or who have experienced the death of a friend or a colleague but so far we personally don’t know anyone who has died because of the virus.  I have to be very conscious not to be dismissive.  I’ve become a bit conditioned to treat a number as only a number. But every number is an actual person, someone who loved and was loved, who liked wrapping Christmas presents, grocery shopping, playing bridge or taking a cruise, someone who played hide and seek with their grandchildren or who dressed up in their parent’s clothes and danced around the house or joined a punk band and played bad music.   People not numbers who were loved and shared their love with others that’s what I ask you to remember.  Let’s not be cavalier by dismissing the suffering that others are experiencing.  We are a people who embody compassion and caring. My invitation is for you to pause and lift up in prayer those who grieve this day.

Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:1-3
“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

Reflection Questions:
Who needs your encouragement and how will you offer it to them?
How do you define humility?
What behavior would you consider selfish?

Holy God, wrap those who grieve these days in your tender embrace. Keep me interested so I can look at their needs and embody a presence of compassion and share words of encouragement. Let me think like you so that I can respond like you. Amen.


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