Tidbits and Blessings Blog
by Jeanie Malone
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Peace for the Pandemic-worn
Imagine being a newly graduated nurse during the pandemic. You dream of working with cardiac patients, but your reality shifts quickly. You take a job on a dedicated COVID floor. You’re aptly introduced to circumstances for which nursing school did not prepare you: short staffing, inadequate equipment, treating needs that normally would be treated in ICU or on a step-down floor, and much more.
This is the COVID reality for one friend who says she never envisioned her work so greatly impacting her personal life. She developed a different awareness about herself and the job she was called to do. She realizes her vigilance to protect herself, her family, and others is vital.
This nurse was baptized by fire, so to speak, and quickly learned resilience, vigilance, compassion, patience, dedication, and adaptability. With deep conviction she says, “Each day I hope to be a light in my patients’ lives and show them Christ through my work. I will continue to do this work because I care about this field and want to do my best to add support during this time.”
This young nurse’s response to the pandemic shows the resilience of the human spirit. God gives us a fire deep within to survive and thrive. All humans have this burning desire, but we go about it in different ways. This nurse’s dependence on and trust in God brings forth the best fruit of this desire: glory to God, blessings to others, and peace within ourselves.
Even during chaos, we can have that inner peace that only a close dependence on God can bring. It comes with godly wisdom for living. We are all prone to human error, but we increase our odds of living wisely the more we seek and depend on God.
Some folks have exercised their faith in new ways as a direct result of the pandemic. Many have learned a new level of dependence on God for wisdom, peace, protection, and provision.
The pandemic has affected every aspect of life. Many more are grieving, poor, homeless, battling addiction and depression, and facing life challenges of survival that they never imagined possible.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, as of August 9, 2021, nearly 20 million adults in the US live in households that did not get enough to eat, and 11.4 million adult renters are behind on rent, despite all the economic relief and recovery support given by the government in numerous forms (cbpp.org).
“During the pandemic, adults in households with job loss or lower incomes report higher rates of symptoms of mental illness than those without job or income loss (53% vs. 32%)” (kff.org). In a survey by the CDC just a few short months into the pandemic, 31% of US adults reported having anxiety or depression. 11% reported having serious thoughts of suicide in the past 30 days. These numbers are nearly double the rates expected pre-pandemic (nimh.nih.gov).
As a result of the pandemic, the number of US adults who reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder rose from one in ten from January to June 2019 to four in ten. 36% US adults reported difficulty sleeping, 32% reported difficulty eating, 12% reported an increase in alcohol consumption or substance abuse (kff.org).
According to chalkbeat.org, the pandemic slowed progress in math and reading for millions of US students; Black, Latino, and low-income students were hit hardest. NWEA released data showing that students in grades 3 through 8 were 3 to 6 percentile points behind in reading and 8 to 12 points behind in math. Even students in affluent schools dropped significantly—the typical fifth grader dropping from 71st percentile to the 64th. Students in low-income schools dropped significantly over the pandemic year from 35th to the 24th percentile. Another analysis based on a different test and released July 27, 2021 by the consulting firm McKinsey showed first through sixth graders being an average of five months behind in math and four months behind in reading.
Home school parents report increases in isolation and depression for themselves and their children not being able to co-op and go on fieldtrips. This year many are still trying to complete lessons behind on from last year and trying to regain normalcy with hopes of getting back to extracurricular and social activities.
From ghost town campuses and converting traditional to digital instruction, fees for not being being vaccinated, to housing plans for isolating those suspected of having COVID, higher education has undergone many changes as well (insidehighered.com). Some universities are waiving fees usually customary for those who want to live or dine off-campus. Others are trying to impose fees on students who are not vaccinated; those institutions say the fees are to cover testing costs and costs of quarantine, meal delivery and laundry facilities, and cleaning and sanitation efforts (insidehighered.com).
Gardening boomed at the beginning of COVID causing a national seed and canning supplies shortage. Some major changes in gardening resulting from the pandemic are that there are more first-time gardeners, more year-round gardening, more planting space, and more food preservation. Some folks planned bigger vegetable gardens and even planted fruit trees then lost them due to having COVID. Some folks found gardening to be their therapy.
The help and encouragement from veteran gardeners and food preservers to greenhorns has been one of the biggest victories in human helpfulness as a result of COVID.
One lady and her family cleared part of a pasture to grow more veggies. Her sister volunteered for meals on wheels during COVID and distributes extra produce to those meal recipients.
One lady lost her garden this summer after her sister passed away with COVID in March. Her attention shifted to getting her home ready for her sister’s four children to move in with her.
Curbside pickup, ordering everything from Amazon, overshopping, not eating out at favorite restaurants are some of the major changes reported in retail and food industries. One friend shared that she and her family haven’t eaten in a restaurant in over a year and a half. They do curbside pickup. Many folks discovered the quarks of at-home haircuts and styling. I have noticed more ladies donning natural looks and less makeup.
For some who have survived having the virus, their daily routines remain changed. One lady shared that her sense of smell hasn’t returned since having COVID six months ago. Another lady reported that she is still weak a year later and is very soon out of breath. She shared the struggle of her husband having to carry more of the load for gardening and household care.
For all of us, daily life has changed in many ways. COVID conversations are now a part of daily life. We seem to be realizing things about ourselves as a result of how we respond to the social isolation, federal and local mandates, and growing tension between those pro and anti vaccine and masks.
For those becoming new parents during the pandemic, they are learning new ways to share their bundles of joy with family without in-person contact. For those in hospitals, having medical procedures, or living in retirement homes, isolation is definite.
Satan is using the chaos to divide and conquer individuals, families, churches, communities, and nations. He is pitting us one against another, and we feel helpless to participate in his attacks. Regardless of the chaos around us, God’s Word instructs us to seek Him with our whole heart (Deut. 4:29, Jer. 29:13) and keep our minds on whatever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtue, and praise (Phil 4:8).
Throughout scripture God promises peace as a result of holiness, and most intensively in Isaiah. The prophet Isaiah is known as the prophet of holiness. “In Isaianic literature the adjective ‘holy’ (gados) is used of God more frequently than in all the rest of the Old Testament taken together.” ‘Holy’ appears 33 times in Isaiah as compared to 26 times in all the rest of the Old Testament (Motyer, 17). Isaiah ministered during a time when it was “clear that Judah would have to make up its mind wherein its security lay in a day of threat” (Motyer, 19).
We are in a time where we must make up our minds wherein our security lies. 19th Century Scottish Theologian P.T. Forsyth said, “Unless there is within us that which is above us, we shall soon yield to that which is about us.” Regardless of our circumstances, we can benefit from God’s presence and gift of peace. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Tim 1:7). The gift is there already, but we must do our part to access and enjoy it. God calls us to holiness. His Word teaches us to cleanse ourselves from unrighteousness (Matt. 5:48, Romans 12:2, 1 Cor. 6:19, 2 Cor. 7:1).
No matter on which side of the current debate we stand, we are to seek God and ask Him to reveal any wicked way in us just as King David pleads in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
2 Chronicles 7:14 instructs: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Notice the blessing can only be received after we do our part. Our part is to humble ourselves, pray, seek God, and turn from our wicked ways.
The newest federal mandate directs the Department of Labor to require companies with 100 or more employees to require vaccines or weekly testing and fines up to $14,000 per incident of incompliance. It also requires vaccines for most federal employees, federal contractors, and all healthcare workers (cnn.com).
Many who oppose the vaccine mandates are carefully considering their next steps. One woman asked prayer for her family, as her husband now is faced with what to do regarding his company with over 100 employees. This family is considering the option of folding up and moving. The impact on the entire world of this US mandate is not yet realized.
As earth-shattering as all this is, many of us have yet to face the persecution Christians around the world face, just for believing in Christ. While it’s natural to crave our lost creature comforts, we are wise to remember and thank God for our many blessings.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:3-9).
18th Century Welsh poet, priest, and painter John Dyer said, “A person may go to heaven without health, without riches, without honors, without learning, without friends; but he can never go there without Christ.” No matter what we face during the pandemic or otherwise, our salvation depends on our relationship with Jesus Christ. Our peace depends on this same variable.
Barnum, Matt. “The Pandemic’s Toll: National Test Scores Show Progress Slowed, Gaps Widened.” Chalkbeat, 28 July 2021, 12:01 AM, www.chalkbeat.org/.
“Coronavirus Affects Higher Education.” Inside Higher Ed | Higher Education News, Events and Jobs, 2021, www.insidehighered.com/.
Liptak, Kevin, and Kaitlan Collins. “Biden Announces New Vaccine Mandates That Could Cover 100 Million Americans.” CNN Politics, 9 Sept. 2021, 9:01 PM EDT, www.cnn.com/2021/09/09/politics/joe-biden-covid-speech/index.html.
Motyer, J. Alec. The Prophecy Of ISAIAH: An Introduction & Commentary. InterVarsity Press, 1993.
Panchal, Nirmita, et al. “The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use.” KFF, 10 Feb. 2021, www.kff.org/.
“Tracking the COVID-19 Economy's Effects on Food, Housing, and Employment Hardships.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 10 Sept. 2021, www.cbpp.org/.
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I'm tired of running from God and am trying to learn to run to Him instead.
LIFE (Live in Full Effect) Blog by Jeanie Malone is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0