No Holy Week has ever rocked our planet like this.
Or has it?
COVID-19 now. Jesus’ journey to the cross then.
A close-to-home “now” touched me when fear gripped our 3-year-old granddaughter, Cadence. In a matter of weeks she’d experienced great loss. One of her grandpas died suddenly. At the same time her preschool taught proper coughing etiquette before all schools were closed. Then the stay-at-home order meant loss of playmates and teachers. Her small world ended in a big way.
As her mommy tucked her into bed one night, Cadence sneezed (properly 😊) into her elbow. Then started to whimper, “I don’t want to be sick…I don’t want to disappear.”
Check out my conversation with child psychologist Joseph White, PhD and Charity Kauffman, children’s ministry expert. They offer helpful ways to understand kids coping with COVID-19.
Each of us struggles in our own way with the coronavirus. We “don’t want to disappear”—even as jobs, school, sports, graduations, vacations, freedom, and life as we knew it have disappeared.
But God hasn’t disappeared.
As I write this, Holy Week begins—Jesus’ journey to the cross. Although we remember Jesus’ horrific week of suffering and pain, we know the end of the story. Jesus conquered death—and that promises life with him forever!
Today’s Crown of Thorns
The nation’s surgeon general, Dr. Jerome Adams, announced this may be the hardest and saddest week yet.
Coronavirus gets its name from “corona”—the Latin word for “wreath, crown.” These insidious coronaviruses take their moniker from the “crown-like spikes on their surface.” It’s like life coronated each of us with our own unique, piercing, crown of thorns.
This viral “crown of thorns” inflicts us with…
- Fear (insert your fears here).
My nephew, an emergency first responder, puts his life in harm’s way each day. After grueling days encountering COVID-19, he returns home to his pregnant wife. Due date? End of this month. I fear for them.
- Uncertainty (insert your uncertainties here).
We know workers who’ve lost their jobs or whose jobs are in jeopardy. We don’t know what will happen with our own business and how churches will adapt to this new day. We’re desperate for divine guidance.
- Isolation (insert your loneliness here).
We feel for families cooped up together learning new ways to do work, school, and church. Our hearts break for the lonely who are missing human contact or suffer from underlying conditions that make them especially at risk.
- Possible death and death itself (insert your angst here).
We’ve learned of loved ones ailing, struggling. Just today my coworker’s beloved youth worker had to make the heart-wrenching decision to take his wife (of 45 years) off a ventilator. She died. Unbearable grief. Deep sadness.
Jesus’ Crown of Thorns
“The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head…” (John 19:2).
COVID-19 won’t last forever. But Jesus will!
We needn’t fear “disappearing” because Jesus’ crown of thorns offers HOPE. Jesus endured our pain. The same Jesus who cried, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46) is our empathetic king. He’s traded a temporary crown of thorns for an everlasting crown of life.
Since Jesus is a God of surprises, he never operates quite like we think he should. He simply promises to be with us no matter what. So…
Take your “inserts”—fears, uncertainties, isolations, and angst—and give them to Jesus. (I will!) Cling to these promises direct from the King of Kings:
“Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer…but if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me” (John 14:1).
“Don’t be afraid,” [Jesus] said. “Take courage. I am here!” (Matthew 14:27).
“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying” (John 11:25).
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world [or the coronavirus] cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27).
“I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown” (Revelation 3:11).
My prayer for you: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).