Where gratitude and grief intersect

April 04, 2020

I smiled at an FB ad for a training workshop… “Lockdown Edition!”. Then I notice such clever services such as “how to be productive while working at home”, “how to improve yourself during the next 21 days”, and so on. Kudos on your innovation! I really hope you will do well (you know who you are). Just because our world is under lockdown doesn’t mean it stops revolving.

Me? I take this opportunity to hunker down and work on my two book projects. While the “lockdown training” would have served its purpose once the covid thing blows over, the books would continue to serve their purposes long after I’m gone.

Book One tackles a somber topic which I will reveal in due time. But this led me to muse about this whole thing. Lately, I saw another genre of FB posts that goes something like: maybe God is allowing this covid for us to spend more time with our loved ones, to take time to smell the flowers, to reorder our priorities, and so on.

Forgive me, but I find that saccharine. Yes, we are to do such things. But we are not to ignore the terrible affliction, either. Such genre may want us to feel good and look for the silver lining, but my heart is not all sunshine right now.

Look, as of this writing (March 29, 7 pm), there are now 678,089 coronavirus cases, with 31,748 dead. A CNN news clip showed an Italian woman grieving for her father, “He was healthy, but he died like a dog.”

Pockets are hurting. Bodies are being cremated. Nations are in pain. Does God need to do all that to call our attention? Must 13,000 souls march to an unknown eternity for us to “reorder our lives”? I’m sorry, but I'm not buying it.

It’s back to classic theodicy: why would a good God allow suffering? The skeptics argue that if there is a God, then He is either not all-good or not all-powerful. I am sure there are Christians who wrestle with that dilemma, too. I ought to know. That’s what my Book One is partly about.

I believe we are to respond with gratitude and grief. I discovered a long time ago the human heart has the capacity to hold conflicting emotions, as the term “bittersweet joy” suggests. During this time as the Ravager prowls, we are grateful for the blessings, but mourn at the losses.

But where do we go from here? The answer is to choose to believe that, in the end, God will make everything right. Everything. If this is untrue, then someone explain to me how we get the notion of “life is unfair”? God is indeed all-good, although He doesn’t seem to BE Who we think He should BE. He is indeed all-powerful, although He doesn’t seem to DO what we think He should DO. Am I making sense?

Gratitude and grief, then, intersect at the goodness of God. The full manifestation of His goodness is in Jesus Christ. There is a comforting piece of Scripture that says those who believe in Christ grieve, but not like those without hope. Notice it doesn’t say Christians won’t die of covid. We all have our respective kryptonite. If it’s not covid today, it may be cancer tomorrow.

Hence, beware of invoking Psalm 91; it doesn’t work that way. Even the devil used this Psalm to tempt Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the Jewish temple. A better Psalm would be like 31:15, “My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies; from those who pursue me.”

While we are either restful or restless in our quarantined communities, we can rest in the goodness of God, even though we do not understand for the meantime. Yes, we are grateful. Yes, we grieve. But in the end, it will be Christ, not covid, who will have the last word.

Stay safe, everyone. Trust in God… but wash your hands.

More insights can be found in my books, available in major bookstores nationwide. Visit my website nelsontdy.com@gmail.com. Contact me via nelsontdy.com@gmail.com.