It’s Friday but Sunday’s coming!
You’ve heard that said, haven’t you? It’s spoken on Good Friday when we recall the crucifixion.
It is usually expressed with hope, knowing above all the uncertainties, the best day ever is almost upon us. It’s Friday, but the Resurrection is coming.
The pandemic has many of us living in the atmosphere of Good Friday. How can we feel even a sparkle of joy when some of the worst days of our lives are upon us?
Like the disciples, many of us have fears, doubts, and wonder, “What’s next?” Will COVID once again impact holidays? Will we ever recover from this pandemic?
Before COVID, life was, well, “normal.” Sure, we had concerns, but life was normally predictable. Then, in a matter of weeks, we found ourselves isolated, unable to celebrate milestones together. We couldn’t see each person’s smile or share their hug. It was our current day Friday. We didn’t know if or when “normal” might return. We still don’t. Like the disciples, we live in those “in-between” days.
Last year, many celebrations were reluctantly put on hold. Families reasoned it was best to wait until this year so everyone could safely be together.
How long, Lord? How long?
We are now approaching another much anticipated season. Yet, life is not where we thought it would be. Some are taking more chances, making plans, joining with family and friends. Others are remaining extra careful before visiting the elderly or the health compromised. Many are grieving. There have been so many losses. So many.
Researchers estimate that more than five million Americans are in mourning, including more than 43,000 children who have lost a parent (USA Today, May 30, 2021).
What was hoped for last year, for some, will never happen. There are empty chairs where a loved one once sat. For some, the loss of jobs and dreams has been devastating. Still, amid the uncertainty and grief, we hope.
We hope and wait.
We wait like our Hebrew ancestors waited for freedom. Amid pain and turmoil, things beyond our control, fluctuating mandates, and unpredictable viral mutations, we wait for good news.
While much is still unknown, according to McKinsey & Company (August 23, 2021), we may pass the pandemic stage by the end of the year and transition to an endemic stage where normalcy partially returns. Some areas are already seeing this.
There is hope that with common sense and precautions we will be able to come together and share special memories again this year.
Still, many will carry grief into the holidays. For those, it is important to both grieve and celebrate, to remember and find hope in each day.
If you gather, share special memories of ones who are not present around the table. Allow their presence to be among you through the stories.
If you cannot gather, Zoom or Facetime, eat at the same time other family members are eating. Carry on conversations as if you were all around the same table. If you are alone, reach out to someone else who is alone and do something together.
A great way to honor a loved one is to volunteer at a place that is serving food to those who are alone or hungry. Many churches and organizations do this during the holidays.
The first Thanksgiving after our son was killed, I was in deep grief. His loss was devastating. A local group giving a dinner for anyone who was alone or didn’t want to cook for Thanksgiving asked for food donations. I decided to take my son’s favorite pie. When I took it, they asked if I would join them in serving. Knowing our son would have served and sensing God’s nudging, I agreed.
That Thanksgiving meal was one I will always remember. I not only saw the joy and gratefulness of those who received, my grief and its burden felt lighter.
Yes, for many it may feel like the desperate sadness surrounding Friday, but the days that lie ahead are hope-filled.
Our holidays may be different but we live in the hope and promise of our God who is our source of strength and comfort.
The pandemic has left its mark but we are not defeated.
As Paul wrote, “We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8,9 NIV).