“We’re all in this together.” What does that even mean to people?
We each bear invisible wounds that are common to man but experienced in deeply personal ways. We are each engaged with an invisible enemy that has tactics we would never anticipate. We are each completely suspended by a grace we don’t understand, yet think our minds have somehow accurately mapped out the truth about things. By March of 2020 I had just spent three of the most difficult months of my life clawing my way through days and nights, drawing the will and ability to endure from the grace of others. Flinging myself onto invisible hope that it must be true: everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. His rescue is the only way through certain valleys and shadows. (There are times when we can be fully secure in God’s goodness, sovereignty, wisdom, and kindness, and feel the suffocating weight of humanity’s sinful wretchedness, vulnerability and despair. Jesus put on flesh to bear it for us, and it killed Him.)
I’d thought by March that the gentle Shepherd was about to give me the time and space to heal some deep and old wounds. To rest a body and soul wearied by trauma on all sides, year after year. To bring refreshment and re-orientation, relief from every self-sufficient way of doing life. I thought I was being given a moment off of the battlefield and in my own hospital bed…
The whole world needs emergency medical staff. Some places need it yesterday. I had tools in my belt that I did not pursue, fashion, define, or establish: emergency medicine training, credentialing, and experience. But not just that… also familiarity with being in way over your head. Functioning in a necessary, decision-making capacity where nobody really knows for sure what’s best. Knowing you’re all still relatively helpless to rescue the dying, even if you give it all you’ve got. Knowing you’re going to get it wrong. Recognizing the face of fear, pain, inability to lift your own head, death. Isolation in your suffering. Survival depending on the grace and given-ness of others. I’m acquainted with this territory. And with the powerful God passes through the fire WITH us.
Turns out as He allows the desolation of the world’s false saviors and arrogant presuppositions, scatters our human wisdom and topples the towers that will never reach us to heaven, He unites us at our perfectly uniform core: dependency. Every nation, tribe, and tongue. Every diagnosis, complication, multidisciplinary team. Every lifestyle, economic status, religion, career. We all so want it to be okay. We want to be okay. We want to decide and accomplish what we think is good. Want what we understand or feel in control of to sustain us. We want not to need someone else to do our breathing for us, clean our waste up for us, take control of managing our very survival. But we do.
The brother of humble circumstances should boast in his exaltation, but the one who is rich should boast in his humiliation because he will pass away like a flower of the field. -James 1:9-10
How simply humanity can be experienced on a hospital floor where everyone has the same diagnosis. I cared for previously-healthy 34-year-olds (miraculously) fresh off of 3 weeks’ mechanical ventilation, and 95-year-olds fresh-on to hospice care. Listened to the grief of the just-widowed, recovering to go home alone. Listened to the moans of previously-healthy 60-year-olds who were still blankly existing in some encephalopathy we didn’t understand yet but knew to expect. Listened to the gratitude, hope, and plans of those who’d recovered and got to wheel down the hall to the elevator that would take them off the Covid floor and back to their families. Listened to the last words of one whose 87 years had taught him a few things. I used translator services to accommodate half a dozen languages on one floor. The nations were gathered together at Mt. Sinai of all places, crying out for hope. We cared for Hindu, Catholic, non-religious, superstitious, Evangelical; secured oxygen on the drug addict, the home-health nurse, the homeless, the 9/11 hero, the homosexual, the undocumented immigrant, the mother-and-son pair, the husband-and-wife pair, the mentally disabled, and the accomplished professional. Sent one man out to a crowd of celebrants and cameras, and sent one man to finish his course alone in a hospice bed.
We’re all in this together: We are in desperate need of rescue.
So bring your diagnosis, bring your prognosis. Bring your dwindling bank account, bring your overtime check. Bring your “essential worker” pass and bring your pink slip. Bring your home school, home office, hope for a new season, and grief for what’s already lost. Bring your black funeral dress and bring your dancing shoes and cowbells. Bring your black eyes and empty bellies and chains of injustice. Bring your privilege, your voice, your provision. Bring your awareness and bring your ignorance. Bring your broken heart and bring your comfort zone.
Bring it here, to the feet of Jesus, and let Him do with it what He will. We’re all in this together. And He’s telling us it’s time to do things differently. Listen to Him.