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Can a sickness heal us?

Plagues, flu, fevers, famines, and diseases of all kinds have haunted, sickened, and killed us ever since Eve decided to eat that red apple.   When we think we have defeated one, another one pops up to scare us into buying a bunch of toilet paper and soap.

Just when life and the economy seem hunky-dory, the COVID-19 rug is pulled from under us, causing us all to take a tumble.  Am I surprised by any of it?  No.

History has a way of continually repeating itself, trying to teach us lessons.  One day some kid somewhere will read about the time way back in 2020 when life for most of the world’s citizens was put on hold.

It seems when we lose our way with greed, hatred, division, arrogance, racism, and defiance, there is an event that brings the meaning of life back into focus.  Whether it be an attack by terrorists, Mother Nature, war, or a devasting virus, we realize the only way to survive is to unite as one people to overcome whatever is trying to defeat us.

For many years, especially after disease and accidents visited our family, I noticed how those who have never suffered such anguish, allow the little things in life to totally upend them.  They often complain about nothing, they fight with their neighbors, they hold on to resentment, are not compassionate, and not forgiving.   They demean others, are usually biased, and believe everything they say is correct.

When I was a teenager, my minister preached a sermon about that very subject.  I believe God wanted me to remember it because what he said sure made a difference in my courage.

The preacher stated, “You know those who have never experienced hardship, are the ones we should be the most worried about.”

The funny thing about all of us… tragedy and suffering usually put us on our knees to beg for help.  And, right there, is when we see God.  It is there where the meaning of life is found, it is there amid tragedy, where we unearth the courage to forge on. It is in our suffering, where we discover empathy and compassion.  It is in our time of need where we ascertain our wealth.  When we feel abandoned and forsaken is when we locate our one true friend and Father, if only, we fall on our knees.

After horrific events, we settle down to understand that money is not as powerful as we once believed.  It cannot save us from Mother Nature or a mean virus.  We observe that we are all equal in our vulnerability, no matter what color we are or how we vote.  We come to understand that even though we are separated by vast oceans and lands, we are one people under God’s careful watch.

I sit here this morning with a mild cough that is probably due to the pollen falling outside, but who knows.  One of my children is in Uganda, where he has been trying to save endangered animals through his work with Wildlife Protection.  He will fly through Amsterdam, trying to return to the US tomorrow.   My children are scattered in other states, and my grandchildren are out of school.  Yes, I am worried. However, boy, am I very grateful.

I am thankful because it seems this new epidemic affects the older folks, like me, instead of our grandchildren.  Now, that is a gift.  There are always a few beautiful rainbows in the gathering of clouds.

The Italians are singing from their balconies even though their country is weeping with sorrow.  Their lives are stalled, and today their newspapers were filled with over ten pages of obituaries. Yet, the Italians still find a song rising in their hearts.  They raise a toast of hope to all of us with their faith.   May we all learn that we, too, must lay down our division and offer a toast of love and compassion to the world.

Maybe just maybe in our struggles of isolation with no toilet paper, hand sanitizers or masks, we recognize we are part of a vast world where we all need each other to survive.  Why not end our fighting and blaming, but instead use our energy to confront a virus that is either going to overcome us or shape us into better beings?

If we ask God to aid us, perhaps the kid who one day reads about the folks of 2020 in his history book will learn a valuable lesson.   He will understand when a devastating tragedy visits his world, he can find the true meaning of his life by the hope we all left behind.