by Betty McDowell, Vice President of Ministry Services
Recently I came across the term “COVID Fatigue.” I am not talking about one of the many symptoms of coronavirus but rather a collective fatigue we all feel living through this pandemic. We are tired of lockdowns, masks, quarantines, social distancing, uncertainties, conflicting information, and many of us are feeling frustrated, isolated, fearful, restricted, and frazzled. Moreover, while many of us were hopeful in the spring, this has gone on longer than many of us have expected. At this point, many have given up saying, “when things get back to normal, we will …”
Woven into our COVID fatigue is the accumulation of loss. All of us have suffered loss through this time. Loss of incomes, jobs, vacations, family reunions, graduations, weddings, welcoming new babies, and for some of us the loss of relationships through death. During this time when funerals and gatherings are limited or postponed, even grief and closure can be put on hold. Let us be real, there have been moments when the temptation to slip into despair is difficult to overcome.
All that said, there are good things happening too. We don’t have to fall into, or even worse, live in despair. What we do need to do is find ways to live well today, and help our loved ones do the same.
Are you or someone you care about struggling today?
Below are some practical ways to address the struggle, mourn losses, and take steps to a better today:
Do not ignore the accumulative loss in your life. Take time to review your loss and bring these disappointments before God in prayer. Record loss in your journal where you can pour out your feelings and experiences – not only can this be therapeutic, but it can also provide a way to look back in your life to see how the Lord brought you through this difficult season.
Check your self-talk. If you find phrases in your self-talk like, “just give up,” “it’s not worth it,” “why bother,” “the best is over” or any other language in the despair category, BEWARE! We have a spiritual enemy who loves to take advantage of our fatigue and grief. Recognize that while we are in a pandemic we are also in a spiritual battle. Turn to God for strength, and do not surrender your heart.
Choose Gratitude. Gratitude and anxiety cannot co-exist. It’s true. Just try to be grateful and anxious at the same time – you cannot do it! Choose to kick out despair and live in gratitude. Focus on the blessings you have in the present moment and set your heart on the hope for a brighter future.
Tell yourself the truth. This is not the end of things. You are not alone. The pursuit of life and joy is still possible. God is in control. God has a plan and a purpose for you during this time and beyond.
Exercise. Even a short walk can help reset mind, soul, and body. Exercise can help relieve stress and release endorphins helping you feel better and contribute to your overall health.
Talk with friends, listen to worshipful music, memorize scripture, read inspiring books. Find that thing that helps bring you out of despair and dive into it. Take advantage of extra time to find those things that fill your heart. We’re all having to pour out a lot right now, but that only works if you are filling up.
Purposely choose hope. Vietnam POW Ken Cordier shares how he and his fellow prisoners placed bets on when their imprisonment would end. Several of the men placed their bets on upcoming holidays or birthdays. When those dates came, and their release had not come they became distraught and did not fare well as prisoners. Ken Cordier chose a date several years away. He decided he would hold out hope for a future and put his trust in God to get him through one day at a time. Ken purposely chose hope and so can you. You see, hope isn’t about expecting everything to be back to normal tomorrow. Hope is about trusting that God will sort it all out in His time.
And make no mistake, He will. You can depend on it.
I’ll leave you today with Psalm 46, a psalm I spent time reflecting on in my prayer time recently. Perhaps you can take time to sit with it in prayer today. After all, now is a time of opportunity to “Be still and know” who God is and how He can work.
Psalm 46 (NIV)
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.