Another ambulance rushes by, siren blaring as if to announce looming death. Much as I want to drown the sound in my own distress, the echoing silence that follows defeats me. The roads are deserted because of the lockdown, and it looks like this will take a while longer.
I rarely open my social media accounts lately because their contents are wearing me down. I see people getting sick and dying. People I actually know. And as the days go on, the degree of separation seems to get smaller.
My phone won’t stop sending notifications from various people asking for prayers and financial help, 24/7. My stress and anxiety would sometimes rise so high, I find myself screaming at the phone as if that would stop it from making a sound. No, I can’t put it on mute or turn it off. These people need help. They need me.
But I also need help. I also need what they ask from me. I also get depressed. Weary. Weak. Before this pandemic, I would say that I may be alone, but I’m never lonely. Now I long to go outside and be with people, even if they don’t talk to me. I just need presence.
Yet I can’t find myself asking them for the same things that they need. Everytime I think of crying out for attention, I would immediately think of those who need more. The nurses who are working beyond their shifts. The doctors whose phones ring more than mine. The displaced and unemployed who are now begging in the streets. The sick who can barely breathe. The dying — the ones who are far away from home.
As I stare at the almost empty highway on a rush hour, I remember Jesus’ words as he entered the ninth hour of his agony: “Eli, eli, lema sabachthani?” Now I find myself asking the same question: why indeed are you forsaking me?
So I come full circle. I endure the sound of blaring sirens. I try to help those who seek me. I break down for the suffering. I cry out to God.
If Jesus — who knew his fate even before he started suffering — still found himself asking God why he was being forsaken, why can’t I ask the same? I didn’t know this pandemic would happen. I made decisions in my life, thinking it was according to His will.
Or is this exactly His will? There’s a message here somewhere.
I keep praying for the sick and the suffering, for COVID-19 to stop, for a cure — everything to send me back to my “normal” life. But am I praying for understanding why this is happening? Is everything that’s being taken away by this pandemic truly mine in the first place? The closet swelling with unworn clothes. The pairs of shoes now brittle in the rack. The seldom driven car accumulating rust and sediment. The house decaying away with its weary inhabitant. The list goes on. And that’s just the material things.
It’s easy to say that I worked hard for everything I have now. And if I keep thinking that I deserve to be rewarded, then it could mean I acquiesce to a life based on hedonism. That’s the opposite of what I had planned. I wanted to live a minimalistic life, but maybe I still have too much.
No, I really still have too much. My enemy and tormentor is not just the pandemic, but my complacency.
God’s plan is too masterful for me to understand. I am not worthy to question that. Maybe I should start listening to Him more. Really, truly listen, for me to be saved. I start with Psalm 22.