Dear Heavenly Father–all of us must go through the shared experience of coping with COVID-19. Friends have various methods of surviving. Some are bored, binge watching Netflix or immersing themselves in video games to escape reality. They stare out the windows mindlessly, and when I speak with them on the phone, they sigh, overwhelmingly weary.
Others among my friends are in a state of perpetual fear. Endless TV coverage of the disease feeds their alarm, whether those numbers reflect a free-fall economy or the growing total of the ill or dead. Temperatures and symptom discussion occupy all conversations. In their voices I hear the tremolo of fear, a wavering indicating their panic.
A smaller number of friends respond to the virus with an enviable state of calm; they use public media sparingly, only to be informed but not absorbed. They observe all the protective rules, but do so without drama or hysterics. Their voices are calm, measured.
However, Lord, I fall into none of these categories. Mostly I am angry. Very angry. Rage-like angry. It’s a waste of time to be angry at something invisible. My anger is diffuse—broad spectrum. I’m angry some people are called on to risk their lives for public good. Those who provide us with fuel, groceries, mail, packages, and food are suddenly thrust into danger. Public health and safety personnel, doctors, nurses, orderlies, and all the hospital staff, are now at risk. I’m angry knowing many of them have families of their own who may be exposed.
I am angry at those who flout the protections–coughing on produce, spitting at older people, gathering in large groups where the virus is easily spread. I understand that the young feel immortal; what I don’t understand is their lack of respect for others far more vulnerable.
Perhaps I’m most angry at my own helplessness. I want to do something, but what? I’ve been robbed of all the tools I might use to combat COVID-19. I need the company of my friends, their physical presence, their hugs. I want to sit with them, share a meal, know they are still well. The internet Sunday service heightened the importance of the Body of Christ, and its vital role in a church experience. I felt alone, lacking the reinforcement of those around me. We touch because we are human, and denied touch we are more isolated, more vulnerable, more easily frightened. Finally, I’m angry at You, God. How could You permit this pandemic? Where are You while Your world falls apart? I’m angry at You and that only adds to my helplessness.
And so Lord, I come to you with all my human frailties. In my heart I recognize anger is a pointless and futile response. Please help me channel that anger–all that energy—all that determination into useful behavior. If I am limited in personal connections, help me connect through prayer. Help me channel my anger, broadening it beyond my usual prayer requests. Help me pray for a world in peril, pray for all those who are ill; immigrants, the world’s poor, those who experience the intestinal side effects of COVID-19. Particularly be with those who live in tents, caves, and holes in the ground lacking all sanitary protections. Be with those paralyzed by fear; help them to come to You in trust. Be with those who don’t appreciate their own mortality, and fail to understand the vulnerability of others, especially the aged. Be with those who risk their own safety to protect the public good. Remind us we live in a fallen world; while it was not You who caused the virus, You will ultimately create good from it. May each of us use our emotions, our strength, and our energy to draw closer to you, recognizing our dependency. May this be a time of prayerful contemplation, channeling our emotions into Your service. This, Lord, is my prayer.