Today the 500,000th person officially died of Covid-19 in the United States. That’s a number that is very hard to truly understand or visualize, though some have tried. Omaha has a population of 475,000. It’s incredible to think about this entire city be wiped out. Just gone. But here we are, not even a year later and we’ve hit 500k people dead. A number that was completely unimaginable to me perhaps even as recent as six months ago.
I heard the reports of that number this morning on NPR as I was driving my daughter to school, that we were expected to hit that number today. Then as I went back to pick her up after school they were reporting how we had officially hit it. A sobering thought.
But for this incredibly sad milestone, it doesn’t seem to really change anything. It’s literally business as usual anymore. This is our world. 500k people die and we keep carrying on, pushing forward. I came across a tweet today that really resonated with me.
I woke up this morning feeling heavy. It feels like I’ve been trying to juggle too many things at once and it’s all feeling overwhelming to keep up with. I felt on the verge of an anxiety attack all day. My chest was tight, my fingers were numb and tingly. I had a hard time breathing. It just, it wasn’t a fun day. It’s honestly rare that I think of my job as work. But recently, work has felt like work. And that’s difficult.
Add the general sense of anxiety and grief that comes from a country that sees people not as people, but as resources to enable them to earn a profit. The mental health of employees is not the first concern of businesses. The profit margin is. The efficiency of their business.
But morale in this country right sucks. And I don’t think enough people are paying attention to that. Our society isn’t giving us the ability to take the time to understand what has happened and is happening. We are all grieving together in various ways. But for some reason we still have this value to “power through” and act like getting back to normal is the only thing that matters.
I did not want to work today. But I did anyway. And I gave the girls my best. The best I could at least. And I can feel proud of that in a way. But I don’t know how sustainable this level of giving without receiving can be. Each and every day I pretty much pour myself dry anymore, and there’s not much that is refilling my cup.
I’m thankful for my wife, and my daughter, and my sons who so clearly love me and are also giving it their best. And I love them so much for that, too. It just seems to not take away from how hard the hard things are. And so I have to recon with that reality, that no matter what I do to address my own anxieties, the hard things are still hard.
I want to be able to grieve and lament right now, but my position does not allow for that. There are people that rely on me day and night that I need to be present for. I definitely feel the pressure. I don’t want to simply “power through,” but rather recognize the situation I am in and understand that as my faith is tested through this time, I can remember that joy understands that on the other side of all this is a strong sense of perseverance, which creates maturity and character in me. Though it feels like so many thing are coming at me at once from different sides I need to remain singularly focused on the elements of my life that are truly important and meaningful.
I’ve been reminded throughout the day of a passage from the New Testament:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.