Feeling Helpless in the Time of COVID

Feeling Helpless in the Time of COVID

“How Are You Feeling?”

my wife asked me while standing in the kitchen.

It took me a minute to pinpoint exactly how I was feeling.

Small.

Overwhelmed.

Apathetic.

And then it hit me . . .

Helpless.

If-en-land

When I was in high school, I loved science. Chemistry was my favorite; however, I think I would have enjoyed physics too . . . if it hadn’t been for the teacher.

Mr. Nevits was an older gentleman with a deep, rich southern accent. Like Foghorn Leghorn without the stutter.

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Unfortunately, because physics has some difficult concepts to understand, I would often ask clarifying questions in order to comprehend the concepts he was teaching. Many of these questions would begin, “But, if . . .”

Inevitably, Mr. Nevits would reply, “Now, don’t be goin’ off into ‘if-en-land’.”

This drove me nuts! I can’t learn anything if my mind isn’t allowed to wander into the “What-ifs” of life.

And I think that is what makes this time of COVID so confusing.

None of us have the answers.

So we’re stuck asking, “What-if?” to an empty room and getting a blank look from our spouses, our friends, our co-workers . . . and ourselves.

The Next Right Thing

Our family has been watching A LOT of Disney during the recent shutdown.

Despite Disney’s eerily prescient naming of Rapunzel’s city in Tangled (just Google the setting of Tangled – the story of a girl kept in quarantine for years and years) our family decided, instead, to indulge in Frozen II tonight.

The main heroine – Ana – learns that, when you are facing something bigger than yourself, “You just do the next right thing.” [spoiler alert ahead].

Ana loses her sister, Elsa, and the lovable snowman, Olaf (both a friend and a memory of her sister). And she knows that she must do something dangerous and controversial. Something that is bigger than her.

So she gets up, she sets her direction, and she does the next right thing.

Let It Go

Over the past week especially, I have had to simply get up and do “the next right thing.” Staying in the vein of Frozen, I have had to “let go” of the sense that I am in control of anything.

image of the Frozen show at Disney to illustrate all the Frozen allusions in this post

The what-if’s have not gone away, but I am realizing that I am mostly helpless to do anything about them. So I need to let it go.

But that does me very little good, unless I’m putting it in Someone’s hands who is bigger than me.

The Author of the Next Right Thing

As Christians, we know the Author of history. He is in control of all things and He is sovereign over all things. And that knowledge is a great comfort to His children. When I’m feeling helpless, I know to Whom I can turn.

How often do our children not fully understand what we, as their parents, are doing? For instance, when I tell my six-year-old son to turn off the television because it is time for school (admittedly that means something different today than it did three weeks ago), he throws a fit. He cannot comprehend that I could possibly have his best interest in mind by making him stop what he is doing.

All he knows is that I have ruined his fun and am trying to replace it with something exceedingly more difficult and far less exciting.

In that moment, what I want from my son is obedience rooted in trust. And so it is with us and God. When we trust that He is good and He is looking out for us, it is much easier to trust in His sovereign plan (even if we don’t or can’t fully understand it).

Child reading Bible to illustrate a childlike trust.

A Bigger God

If you are not one of His children, this is a very scary time indeed . . . one in which you have nowhere to turn except yourself, your family, and your government . . . and these are all proving to be inadequate gods. No, today, we need a God who is bigger than COVID, a God who is not surprised by COVID, and a God who holds us in His hand in the midst of COVID.

If you don’t know Him, please get in touch with one of us. We would love to show you from the Word of God how you can be saved. If you’re not quite ready to reach out to someone, I’ve written another post about what Christians mean when they talk about “being saved”: How to Be Saved.

Into the Unknown

These are unprecedented times. Never has there been something that has brought the world together to fight the same cause like this has. But we’re also in largely uncharted territory. Could the economy collapse? Will our kids be held back a year? What if our 401k’s dry up? Might our government use this situation to seize unwarranted power?

Yes, these are all possibilities.

But we know where asking these questions leads. It leads to “If-en-land.”

A place of anxiety.

A place of being overwhelmed.

A place of feeling helpless.

But we know the One who has been into the greatest unknown (death) and defeated it.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

He knows what lies on the other side of death, and He knows what lies in tomorrow.

Conclusion

For the child of God, whenever we start feeling helpless, we have a remedy:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoicing, acting reasonably, and praying (with thanksgiving).

In the face of feeling helpless during the COVID-19 crisis, the promise from this passage is staggering: they will have “the peace of God.”

Additional Resources

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy my book The Relational God (specifically chapters 1-3 about relating to God as a child).

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Additional Thoughts

This post is part of a group of reflections about Life , Business, and Theology

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About the Author
Steven Halbert is a husband, father, son, and brother. He has held various roles in children and family service organizations and currently works as a product manager for an industrial manufacturer. He enjoys teaching adult Sunday school, which is where the idea for his book - The Relational God - materialized. He has an associate degree in Bible and a master's degree in English; and he blogs about business, relationships, and the church at stevenhalbert.com

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