2020 has been it’s own kind of adventure — though I don’t think that anyone would be able to contest that little fact. We’ve come up against so much and prevailed, but this most recent adventure that has come into our backyard undoubtedly seems more terrifying than the entirety of the 2010s combined.
The decade that was the 2010s was rough, it knocked me down probably more often that it had me standing solidly on my feet and it had me learning more lessons than I can number on my fingers and toes… and my kid’s fingers and toes right along there. It was an adventure to itself and a chapter of my life that I was thankful to close at on December 31st, with no idea what rollercoaster 2020 was about to become in my life. January was hard and fast, I don’t remember it really passing and my mind still thinks it’s only midway through January half the time (weirdly, we’re not); work was stressful and crazy with a multitudes of things, though nothing outside of what I could handle, with staffing changes and a constant change of how we handled things as we grow and evolve. February was worse, with some intense personal struggles, I also completely lose my voice (which hasn’t ever happened before), my kiddos were sick, we continued to have the same problems at the office, and my exhaustion started to hit full force. March though… March came out of the gate swinging and it’s been that way for the majority of people; between the school closures, and the quarantine? Well, it’s enough to make most people start to need a breather.
Through this, it’s been increasingly difficult to get a grasp on where God is in all of this, how this fits into His plans — after all, it couldn’t be His plan to have all this suffering going on, right? It can’t be His plan to have people scrambling to have toilet paper and baby formula, right?
I mean, I work at a church. I’m not supposed to say these things, right? I’m not the one that should have the questions about the struggles of the world and I’m certainly not the one that should be on the phone crying to her mom about how hard things feel right now (news flash, I totally am, and that was after I’d already cried on my husband’s shoulder before I had to run out to work a graveyard shift). In the midst of the chaos, The Church is supposed to be the steady calm. The storm is supposed to rage around The Church and it will remain standing, sure as ever before and ever after. The Church, though, is made up of humans, people who ache and whose hearts break for everything that is going on in the world the same as anyone else.
I have the privilege of normally seeing more of the process for Garden Valley than most people (it is fascinating and brilliant and I feel like I’m constantly learning something from our leadership, even though I’m rarely on site), but I can assure you that they are the same as everyone else in this — they are in process and coping and figuring things out as they go.
It’s been increasingly easy, with all of the anxiety and the panic and the worry in the world, to wonder and worry about where God is in all of this. How it is that it appears He isn’t doing anything in the midst of this anguish that people are having to go through and that His people are having to manage. It has felt as though, from January 1st (at least to me) a little as though God has had His hands held behind His back, just waiting to see what it was that people were going to end up doing.
Instead, a couple days ago, I woke up from a dead sleep in the middle of the day (I’ve been working graveyard shifts recently, it’s exhausting and I’m pretty sure it contributes to how much I’m crying) with the thought that we need to focus on combating the fear that God isn’t there and focus on the times that He clearly told us to not fear, that He is there.
Over the coming weeks, the situation that we are staring into will change and involve, likely many times over. It’s going to be hard to believe and grapple with the fact that it is easy to listen to the media and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, the negativity that runs rampant and the panic that comes with fearing that you may go without…or you may get sick. Instead, take caution, wash your hands and take the twenty seconds (or thirty… or forty…) to pray that God covers people with peace and comfort, that He covers the kids with joy in the midst of the unknowns, that He covers businesses with blessings beyond their dreams, that He covers the government with innovation on how to handle and approach this situation.
God isn’t holding His hands back from us to wait to respond. He’s holding His hands out for us to take in the midst of these unknowns and trust that He already has handled this. After all… it’s finished, right?
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10
Well, for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Emily Lowery, social media director for Garden Valley Church and service coordinator — as well as carrying a full time job at a local youth homeless shelter called Casa de Belen. While my personal life is just has chaotic as my professional life, I don’t know that I would change either. I have a husband (babes!) and two kiddos (Harper, almost two, and Isaiah, almost 10) and a large amount of local family in Roseburg as well. Greetings!