My heart is glad, and my tongue rejoices, my soul rests in hope. -Psalm 16:9
Recently I listened to a podcast on Radio Lab. Like many podcasts these days, it was about the virus. I found this one particularly fascinating. It described a study that was done in England on patients who gave permission for their body to be studied about how COVID-19 reacted in their body.
The study found that when medical teams sought to eliminate the virus with medication and other treatments, when they defeated one variant of the virus, another variant of the virus would become stronger than the one that had just been eliminated. They found the virus to be resilient and hard to defeat.
And these words caught my curiosity. The researcher said, after a year and a half of working on the virus, “researchers and the medical profession are at their lowest ebb, and we are beginning to have hope.”
Wow! Researchers and the medical profession are at their lowest ebb. They recognize just how resilient the virus is and how hard it is to defeat, and yet they are beginning to hope.
For me and like many who are not in medical research, we were most optimistic when a vaccine was announced that would protect us from serious COVID illness. That optimism was in January/February 2021. I do not think I was alone in this. Beverly and I received our second shot in April, and within two weeks we were on a plane headed to see our family in California. Our hearts were glad, and we were rejoicing. Only weeks later the Delta variant began to spread, and our optimism turned into concern and even fear of what this would mean for people.
Optimism and hope are not the same thing. It is easy to be optimistic when we do not fully understand the situation or are not ready to face the hard facts and realities. COVID is not going to easily go away.
It is said that during the Viet Nam War, there were two types of prisoners. Those who were optimistic and those who faced the hard realities and were hopeful. Those who were optimistic said things like we will be saved in a couple of weeks, or we will be home by Christmas, more often died while in the camp. Those who lived said I am not sure when we will go home, but I know this will be a very difficult time and there are people who are working toward our release. The optimist had goals and behaviors that actually worked against their survival. The others looked at daily goals of survival and set their sights on the long-term. Hope is like that, it faces the hard realities, sets goals and behaviors that recognize reality.
Our hope is built on God’s amazing grace that we experience through Jesus Christ. It is hope that does not rest on optimism or wishful thinking but taking responsible actions like distancing, masking, vaccinations and ensuring our behaviors do not put others at risk. Our heart rejoices, and we are glad because we have been given another day to serve God and others.
During this season of COVID, I invite you to face the hard reality that COVID is very resilient and will continue to mutate; that there are very smart people working on our behalf to stamp out the virus; and as John Wesley said, best of all God is with us.
I also encourage you to reset expectations for yourself and others. We are in the midst of a pandemic. Take joy in the small accomplishments, overcoming the small challenges and living to help others and yourself to move through each day, each week and this season. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, maybe we, certainly others are at a low ebb, but we hope because God is with us, and others are working on our behalf. Therefore, my heart is glad, and I rejoice, my soul rests in hope!