What Is Wrong With Us?

A couple of weeks ago, I had intended to write a blog on the issue of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) and its impact on the chronically ill community. The issue was before the supreme court again. I am bothered by the political conversations that so often leave out the ones who will suffer the most if the courts were to strike down the ACA.

11 Things You Need to Know About ACA Open Enrollment

When my wife left full-time teaching, we no longer had guaranteed insurance. When we signed up for “Obama Care,” it wasn’t a political decision but a survival one. I’ve talked to others who are covered by the ACA, and the consequences of it being struck down suddenly would be dire. Regardless of your political position on government subsidized healthcare, to callously not care what would happen to hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people with pre-existing conditions just so your “team” could get a political win is strong evidence that there’s something wrong with you. Yes, you.

I’m sorry if that stings, but it is disturbing to witness the lack of empathy being demonstrated in our political mudslinging. I couldn’t just write about ACA to emphasize the need to care about those who need it to survive because I’ve been too stunned by the heartless rhetoric being shouted across the graves of more than a quarter million Americans who have died of Covid!

The worst–other than the outlandish conspiracy theories that treat the whole thing as a hoax–is the callous and ill-informed mantra of the 99% that will get the disease and be okay. It as if millions of people can completely tune out the tearful pleas of our doctors and nurses, who are begging us to take this serious as they have had to hold the hand of another patient dying in isolation, or have seen another semi-truck arrive at their hospital to be a makeshift morgue.

First of all, followers of Jesus might remember the pastoral example of his own parable in Luke 15. Jesus is the shepherd who leaves the 99 to rescue the 1. Even if only 1% die from COVID, we should care about every one of those people. But keep in mind, that many people suffer greatly who do not die. Either their lives were irrevocably changed by a long stay in ICU and/or they become COVID long haulers.

Second, it has never been about the percentage of people dying. That percentage is contextually dependent upon the availability of care at the time of their medical crisis. As we continue to deplete our medical resources and ICU availability, that number will go up. Millions will die while myopic people rant about it affecting only 1%. This 1% (though again, I dispute that characterization) are the most vulnerable, those we Christians are most called to care for.

I have listened to many who struggle with chronic illness for years tell stories of not being believed by doctors. This is an unacceptable wrong, and we all know how valuable it is to find a doctor who will believe us. How strange is it now that we are not believing our doctors (and other healthcare professionals). I’ve seen an ICU nurse called a liar by several people on Twitter just for saying his hospital morgue was full.

New York City Mass Graves On Island Are Increasing Because Of COVID-19 :  Coronavirus Updates : NPR
Mass grave in New York (Yes, in this nation!)

I’ve also seen this notion circulated that we should let the medically vulnerable stay at home and the rest of us get on with our lives. This is such a callous attitude for so many reasons, but let’s start with the assumption that it is an option for all medically vulnerable people to stay at home! Many of us would lose our livelihoods if we did that. Many of us have school children. We can’t just withdraw from society! But that you would desire it means there’s something wrong with you. Yes, you.

Do I seem angry? You bet I am. I am angered nearly every day by the layers of disinformation and the daily merciless dismissal of so much humanity. Sometimes I can’t believe this is how we are not as a society. I ask all the time, “What is wrong with us?”

But the truth is most people don’t think there’s anything wrong. Or they just see their political opponents as having all the problems. Just be careful you don’t trip over any bodies on your way to throwing your next political punch. God, have mercy.

Posted in COVID-19 and Empathy, Ethics, Imago Dei | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

For the Undiagnosed

Tips to Thrive When You Have an Undiagnosed Chronic Illness – Pain Resource
Photo Credit: painresource.com

One of the more frustrating tales you will hear from those in the chronically ill community is an all too common story of being undiagnosed, sometimes for years, sometimes forever. This leads to confusion regarding treatment plans and accusations of being overdramatic. Frustrated doctors might turn on their own patients and imply or even directly state that the problem is all in the head of the patient. Meanwhile, the one who is desperate for help is made to feel like he or she is the problem instead of someone with a legitimate medical problem.

I experienced a little of this at the beginning of my medical problems. After I injured both of my hips, I had no shortage of well-meaning people telling me I just had something out of alignment and just needed to see a chiropractor. I did eventually see one, who did not help at all. It amazed me how difficult it was for someone just to take my word for it that I had hurt my hips.

My GP didn’t help much either. When I tried to explain why I felt her theory did not match up with my experience, she became agitated and said, “Well, thankfully we have a great sport’s doctor right here in town.” She was dismissing me to go see him. So, I did. Long story short, he eventually suggested that it “might” be in my head and that seeing an orthopedic surgeon wouldn’t make any difference.

Well, I did see an orthopedic surgeon, thankfully. And then I saw another one, who eventually did surgery on both of my hips because of extensive injuries. I also saw a rheumatologist who gave me a diagnosis on the first visit. Since those early days, my experience with doctors has been mostly positive. Getting the right diagnosis was key to an understanding of what I had to deal with and allowed me to partner with my medical professionals with a successful plan of treatment.

It took me about a year and a half to go from the initial injury to diagnosis, but I know that I was lucky. And I have heard many of your stories about it taking years, even decades to get an accurate diagnosis. I can’t imagine how difficult that is. Some have had doctors give up on them leaving them desperate with no solutions on the horizon to even make their life liveable.

Recent conversations have reminded me of this struggle. I was also reminded by our unsuccessful attempts to diagnose a leak in our basement. One contractor and two plumbing companies have already tried. We still don’t know the problem, and it could turn into a financially ruinous situation. Sound familiar?

One day I was praying about our situation with the basement, I started thanking God that at least it wasn’t my body that we couldn’t understand why it was falling apart. And it reminded me of you…the undiagnosed.

There is no diminishing your struggle. I know you need answers. The only encouragement I can give you is to not give up. Meet with yet another doctor. Maybe the next one will finally commit to finding out what is wrong no matter what.

And find some people who will believe you. I will believe you. The good folks in the Broken and Mended ministry are committed to believing you, and even more…we will pray for you and not give up on you and your journey.

Take a little comfort today that God understands what is happening to you. Like the persistent widow (Lk. 18:1-8) of Jesus’ parable, keep petitioning the ruler of heaven and earth. The point of the parable is not to say that God is like the unrighteous judge, but rather that if even such a person will reward persistence, then how much more will our righteous God?

I can’t promise any answers or the timing of those answers, but I can promise that God will be with you no matter what is ahead. For that is his promise to all his disciples, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Doctors, friends, and even family may give up on you and leave you, but not Jesus, not ever.

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Practical Theism In the Midst of Chronic Pain

Though Broken and Mended is a Christian support ministry for those dealing with chronic illness and pain, I desire to create a culture that is welcoming to all. The question is will people who do not believe in God or have an active commitment to Jesus Christ want to be a part of a ministry that can’t help but reference belief in divine help and redemptive hope in Christ?

Obviously, people who are hostile toward Christian faith are not likely to be attracted or hang around this ministry very long. But perhaps, someone who is undecided about matters of faith will stick around long enough to see what Christian faith offers to people in the throes of chronic illness.

Allow me an important clarification: If God is not real, then he cannot help you. God cannot be just a crutch to get us through life. If God does not exist, then I would not advise anyone to seek help from him anymore than I would tell someone to go to the Tooth Fairy for financial advise. My conviction is that there is a God, and therefore, who better to help us through life’s trials?

There are a lot of other convictions behind that rhetorical question. To name a few: God is able to help us. God wants to help us. God is able to be known, etc. I don’t want to have to defend each conviction today, but I do want to explain why I believe that faith in God is vital to successfully living with chronic pain.

If there is no God, then there can no redemptive purpose for your pain. Your pain is simply a physiological response hardwired into your body and mind through millions of years of evolution. It would not be in itself evil (just unlucky) because moral categories of good and evil would be mere contrivances. Further, your fate is simply to hurt until you die and then oblivion.

I realize that some atheist who is striving to live a meaningful life might not like that. I am not trying to discourage anyone. I’m just saying that from my perspective any other coping method without God is simply kicking the can down the road until there is no more road. In such a scenario, every person with chronic illness/pain is distinctly disadvantaged to their healthier peers (though we should note that oblivion is their fate as well). There is no transcendent One to help anyone. We just have to get by as best we can.

I don’t hurt any less because of my faith than those who don’t share in my faith or any faith. And I certainly have some rotten days where it is hard for me to appreciate the point of living. But faith in God as revealed through Jesus Christ always calls me back to trust and hope. I absolutely believe that there will be a day when the pain will end–not by oblivion–but by immortality. That hope gives me a horizon that does not stare directly down into the grave. That, in itself, is of immeasurable value.

How to Use the Three Horizons for Future Sensemaking - Disruptor League
What’s on your horizon? Photo Credit: Disrputorleague.com

But my hope is not relegated only to hope of heavenly bliss with God (though it is hard to diminish what that means). I will leave you with one of my favorite passages that describes how God redeems pain and suffering in this life to shape me into a person of greater character than I would be without suffering. Suffering itself may not be good, but God is still working good in my suffering (Rom. 8:28).

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:1-5
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At the Intersection of Grief, Depression, and Illness

Elizabeth Township supervisors add 2 stop signs to 3-way intersection |  News | lancasteronline.com

I was disheartened last week to witness what transpired on Skip Bayless’ show on Fox Sports called “Undisputed.” Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback, Dak Prescott, had recently shared in an interview his struggle with depression in the wake of his brother’s suicide in April. Bayless, who is known for his shock jock hot-takes, went too far when he offered his view on Dak’s admission:

“He’s the quarterback of America’s team. The sport that he plays is dog-eat-dog. It is no compassion, no quarter given on the football field. If you reveal publicly any little weakness, it can affect your team’s ability to believe in you in the toughest spot.”

Bayless had also said that he had no sympathy for Dak and was seemingly unmoved by the contrary words of his co-host, former NFL star, Shannon Sharpe. Here’s the video that summarizes the exchange and the response of Bayless’ employer.

I suppose I ought to be encouraged by the nearly unanimous condemnation of Bayless’ comments. However, I know there are still many people out there who feel like Skip. When you are a leader, you should never show any sign of weakness.

This is the very opposite of the approach we are taking with “Broken and Mended.” We believe that brokenness is where the precious metal of God’s refinement shines through. When we are transparent with our suffering, not only are we freed from the pressure of keeping up appearances, but others discover they are not alone because of the one who spoke up.

The Japanese are of Kintsugi–where precious metal shines through brokenness.

It is, of course, ridiculous to think that someone like Dak Prescott suffers any less from the death of a loved one because he is rich and famous. Grief and depression may not be the same things, but it is easy to see how grief leads to depression.

Likewise, the loss of dreams, comfort, productivity, or an abled-body can lead to crippling grief. Over time, this grief has a numbing effect, but not in a good way. Depression begins to set in as you feel hopeless for any change in your circumstances or reclaiming anything that has been lost because of chronic illness.

Please do not try to suffer through this deadly intersection of grief, depression, and illness alone. Please do not try to keep silent in order to keep up appearances. There is a greater occurrence of suicide in those who suffer with chronic pain. This is an intersection, when it must be crossed, we do so vigilantly.

It is advisable to seek the help of a licensed counselor and your doctor. Feel free to reach out to me at brokenandmended18@gmail.com. Here are ways you can get connected to the Broken and Mended as a ministry.

Don’t listen to Skip Bayless. Don’t be like him either! Be like Dak.

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Should We Look Forward to Death?

Last time I wrote (it has been a while!), I discussed the “Sacredness of Life.” If life is inherently sacred, then doesn’t it follow that death is the thief that robs us of what is most precious? Logically, life and death are opposite ends of the spectrum, not only from a physiological perspective but a theological one as well.

Yet, you can hear confusing messages about death all the time. Far from viewing death as an enemy to be defeated, many Christians talk about death as “no big deal.” “We are all going to die anyway.” Lately, these kinds of glib comments have been used to diminish our need to be concerned with the Coronavirus. We are all going to die anyway, so what’s the big deal? Why should we care?

Even before these troubling days, I have often heard Christians describe death as an escape from suffering. There is some truth to that. People suffering with intractable pain, may agree with the apostle Paul who once said, “…to die is gain…I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far…” (Phil. 1:21, 23). Paul had suffered much. He was not afraid of death. He knew that his reward lay beyond death, but please do not think that Paul thought death itself was the reward.

Today, you hear people throwing caution to the wind because, “I am not afraid of death!” But if you are, “You should stay home!” Such comments are full of false piety and completely devoid of real life situations. They aren’t saying these comments from the solemn ground of a freshly dug grave or as their final words from their deathbed. Rather, they speak them out of the selfish hubris that has consumed a nation.

My comments here are not meant to be political, though politically outraged people will take them that way. I am making a theological point that is also thoroughly biblical. Death is the enemy. The same Paul we heard from earlier said so. At the return of Jesus, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:26).

Death: The last enemy
I’ve seen a lot of memes/captions attributing this quote to J.K. Rowling. Hmm, no, the apostle Paul was first by about 1,965 years!

Yes, death can be a passageway to heavenly reward. And no, Christians should not fear death, because Jesus has defeated it. But treating death flippantly and acting as if there are no consequences diminishes the victory that Jesus has won over death. When I stand on that sacred ground in which we lay a loved one to rest, I know death will not have the last word. That is why I can face it, not because “we’re all going to die anyway.”

When I think of death as an escape from the pain, I understand the sentiment. But it is our culture, not Scripture, that treats death as an ally and suffering as an enemy. While suffering will ultimately not have a place in God’s new creation, it does have a sanctifying role to play in this death-marred world (e.g. Rom. 5:1-5).

I choose to keep living, even when it hurts, because that is the way I honor my Creator and the sacredness of the life he gave me. And though pain is no small matter, God can use it to increase my nearness to Jesus, and through faithful living, I can glorify him. I care about my life; I care about yours too, and so does God. Let’s try to honor the life God has given each of us!

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The Sacredness of Life

A few years ago, I paid Right On Mission to help me develop a personal mission statement. I had never been big on such things, but I had a previous relationship with the professor (Dr. Sarah Sumner), and she offered me a good deal. It also came with another class that helped me develop a plan for the Broken and Mended ministry.

Basically, I shared my whole life story with Sarah. She asked me a series of questions that ranged from my hobbies to what made me angry. But it was her job to craft the mission statement. After about three hours, she came up with this: “To acknowledge the stardom of every person’s life.”

Star - Wikipedia
Everyone’s a “star” in God’s eyes

“Stardom” is connected to my love for the stars in God’s heavens. It had nothing to do with the celebrity of someone’s life or even their accomplishments. The word was chosen to convey the personal sacredness of every human being bestowed on them by a God who makes us all in his image.

It is a meaningful mission statement, but I soon discovered that it was not chosen for me because I had mastered it. Rather, it took intentional effort to regard each person I met as sacred. I had made my own distinctions between people and had catered to my own favorites. My mission statement was an ideal that needed a lot of repentance to take shape in my life.

Let me confess that though I have made substantial progress, I believe I will always be in need of repentance. The moment I think less of a person just because they are different than me is yet another opportunity for me to hear my own mission statement calling me back to a God’s eye view of every human. But the passion that Sarah helped me unearth is blossoming unto fruitfulness for me and with others God places before me.

That’s the backstory to what I have found so upsetting in the midst of this pandemic. I have been shocked at how easily others have dismissed the sacredness of human life. I have heard or read countless dismissals of the 100,000 people who have died in our country alone. They “were on their last legs” anyway. They were elderly. They had preexisting conditions. As if any of these factors could somehow lessen the tragedy of a life prematurely snuffed out.

Do people dying in nursing homes isolated from their families matter less because they were no longer “productive” members of society? Do their survivors mourn them less because they didn’t have long to live anyway? My maternal grandparents are both still living. When my grandpa turns ninety in June, they will both have arrived in their nineties. I know that I won’t have them much longer. Whenever they die, I will mourn them deeply, because I love them. If they happened to get COVID and die even sooner, I would advise you to stay away from me with “well, they were elderly anyway” garbage.

Another disparity has been the reality that this virus has impacted minorities at a disproportionate rate. The virus itself does not regard race or any other human distinction, but communities with greater poverty tend to have greater health risks with less access to healthcare. And then during this time, we have had the reprehensible stories of the slayings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and now, George Floyd.

George Floyd Murder: Twitter Left 'Disgusted' as Video of 3 Cops ...
Photo Credit: India.com

The killings are the worst, of course. But then there are stories like a white woman lying to a 911 operator that an African American man was threatening her, a black delivery driver detained in a predominantly white neighborhood–for no apparent good reason–and I am sure a host of others that I’ve either forgotten or didn’t make the national radar.

It is past time for white people like me to listen to what black people and other minorities are saying about what it is like to be a person of color in this nation. But the distressing truth is that most people don’t have the appetite for it. They will excuse, justify, and deny the real problem of racism and white privilege in this country. They will be more passionate and angry over protests that draw attention to the problem than people dying for no good reason other than the color of their skin.

Or maybe we can talk about those kids separated from their parents at our border. I’ve actually read where a Christian brother suggested the kids deserved what happened to them because their parents were criminals. I wonder if that same brother is so readily willing to call his fellow citizens criminals who broke the law when they ignored shut-down orders to open up their businesses. But they were desperate, you say? They had to feed their family, you say? Right. But struggling families trying to flee dangerous situations from other countries are the real criminals?

This is a blog for those who struggle with chronic pain, and as I mentioned above, those who have preexisting conditions are being spoken about as if their lives are less valuable because they are physically compromised. But it is also part of a larger human problem.

Either you believe that God has created everyone in his image or not. You don’t get to choose by race, health, or immigrant status. You can’t wave a flag for the unborn and dehumanize the immigrant, the disabled, or people of color. My mission is and remains “to acknowledge the stardom of every person’s life.” It is also my lifelong challenge. Will you join me?

Posted in Ethics, Imago Dei | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

My Review of Walking By Faith

Chronic Illness: Walking by Faith by Esther Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was invited to read an advanced copy of this book, and this work is so needed in the chronically ill community. It is written for Christians, who have an invested interest in pursuing discipleship even in the midst of chronic pain/illness.

The book is grounded in solid theological reflection on relevant scriptural texts that are grouped together by large themes. One of the best things about the book is how grace-centered and empathetic it is without giving in to our inclination for self-pity and false identity (i.e. my disease is the most important thing about me).

I felt understood by the author, but also encouraged and even inspired to a deeper walk with God. It could be read several times a year, and the reader would identify with it (and the individual devotionals) differently each time depending on his/her current struggle.

There are also helpful reflection questions and suggested actions that are not overwhelming at the end of each day. I definitely intend to read it again and will encourage others with similar struggles to get Esther’s book. It is a much needed breath of fresh air targeted for an often neglected demographic.

See more about Esther’s ministry on her website: https://www.lifeinslowmotionblog.com/

View all my reviews

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The Resurrection Doesn’t Expire On Easter

We put a lot of emphasis on the day that Jesus was risen, rightfully so. I love to play up the resurrection on Easter. Honestly, I would forget all about the Easter Bunny if I didn’t have kids! I will never tell someone they put too much emphasis on the risen Christ on that day. I am here to celebrate with you, but I’m also here to remind you that he is still risen on Monday too. He’s still risen on Friday (the day I’m writing this). He’s been risen for nearly 2,000 years, and will be for all of eternity.

Our destiny is inextricably linked to his, if we are his (cf. 1 Cor. 15:22). So, if my destiny is linked to his–and he is resurrected forever–then should I not care about his resurrection more than just on Easter? I’ve written about the resurrection of the body before. The Bible teaches a full victory over death. We will be raised, yes our actual dead bodies, and then we will be transformed into a glorious new body.

A lot of people claim to believe in the resurrection of Christ but fail to see how it connects to our resurrection. Paul claims in 1 Cor. 15 that you can’t have one without the other. In fact, if you deny a future resurrection that is the same as denying His resurrection.

Amid this Coronavirus pandemic, it is good to remember we will get a new body that will not be threatened by a virus or chronic illness. Death itself will be completely overturned, and we will never be robbed by death again!

I hope you had a wonderful Easter. I also hope you remember the Easter claim is not “He was risen,” but is always, “He is risen!”

Death Defeated
Photo Credit: https://stmichaellivermore.com/blog/he-risen
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My Personal Thoughts During the Pandemic

It may appear that I haven’t posted in a while during a time that is very critical to all of us, especially those who are at greater risk for complications if they were to contract the deadly Coronavirus. I did write this a few weeks ago, and though the situation has worsened in the time since, the message is surely still relevant.

However, I have, in fact, been writing, just on a different page on the website. On that page, you will find messages that I have written primarily for my church in lieu of my usual bulletin article that I write for bulletins that we print when we meet together. We are meeting together right now, hence the special page.

All the while, I’ve been meaning to get back to my main blog which is normally addressed to those who struggle with chronic pain and illness. I’m always trying to find an angle or a special topic that relates to this group, of which I am a part. But like everyone, I’ve been overwhelmed in so many ways. I thought I would just use this space as a journal for a moment and share some of my personal thoughts and experiences. If that doesn’t interest you, I won’t judge you! Maybe I just find it cathartic to mark this strange time in history with what was going on through my own mind.

Like most people, I watched the story of a novel virus in China that began spreading around the world unfold gradually. I knew there was some concern when the virus reached our shores, but I never envisioned it affecting my personal life or the life of those I knew.

The moment my awareness of the virus changed, I was at church on a Wednesday night. After Bible class, someone told me they had just canceled the NBA game between the OKC Thunder and the Jazz. Most people where I live are Thunder fans, so they were on top of the news pretty quick. Rudy Gobert, of the Jazz, had been confirmed to have COVID-19. They cleared the arena, and by the time I got home, the NBA had suspended its season.

It was like the first domino in a major chain reaction. Other leagues, industries, and businesses quickly followed suit. The whole world was coming to a stop, and the experts from the CDC and W.H.O. were saying it should. Social distancing became a term known to all. We didn’t immediately cancel church services, as the virus still seemed faraway from Woodward.

The reactions to this fallout was disappointing to me, at least. So many people tried to portray those taking proactive steps to curb the virus as hysterical and panicky. The experts were either conflated with the mass hysteria–and there was some of that to be fair–or dismissed them as being politically motivated. It didn’t help that the President constantly downplayed the crisis, and many who thought they knew better than the experts were following his lead.

This was coupled with an attitude that diminished the lives that were being lost, either by comparing it to something else that people die of–like the flu–or, worse, saying that it was only older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions who were dying. People clamored for evidence that the pandemic was worthy of drastic measures and ignored the evidence where the outbreak had got out of control (like Italy) or that the very measures they were criticizing were preventing the very worst-case scenario they mockingly said had not come.

As the numbers skyrocketed in America and New York and New Jersey became our own dire Italy story, these pandemic deniers mostly disappeared. Of course, I’ve not seen one person admit they were wrong in the beginning!

That doesn’t mean social media has been all bad. I’ve enjoyed a lot of the humor about quarantine and toilet paper and all of it. It isn’t a funny situation; that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some funny moments that allow us to hold on to our sanity! I personally thought the comparisons to Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day” were the best!

As the news got worse, the impact became more personal. School was canceled. Church no longer met in person. Essential businesses were closed. I never felt more like I was in a movie scene than when I picked up my kids’ assignments in school drive-thru’s from teachers wearing masks. Home, where we all spend most of our time, was challenging with three kids of my own and two foster kids. Balancing between my ever evolving role as a minister and extra demands at home has been my hardest challenge. But then again, that is far easier than a loved one being in the hospital, possibly dying, and not being able to be with them.

A sign in my town, Woodward, OK. A “sign” of the times.

How humbling it is to to see the entire human race brought to a standstill by an invisible assassin. But how encouraging it is to be reminded of our common humanity and need for God! It is also been heart-warming to see expressions of solidarity with health care workers and others, not to mention incredible acts of sacrifice.

Like many of you, I am at higher risk for serious complications due to medicines I take that suppress my immune system. It still felt like a remote possibility until another pastor in town got seriously sick with COVID-19 symptoms. I presume that he is in better health than me, so that was a wake-up call (He has recovered). That same day we had our first (and still only) confirmed case in our county. We are not in, by any definition, a hot zone, but I felt vulnerable that day and ever since.

No, I am not afraid, but the entire saga seems so surreal. If I did get sick, I am sure I would experience the fear of the “what-if.” I hate that people are losing jobs. I hate that the world economy is falling off a cliff. Mostly I hate that people are dying and many of them alone.

No, my faith is not hurt. If anything, the Bible teaches us to expect such episodes of human suffering while we await the return of the Lord. But I do worry that some people’s faith may be hurt. Every step we can take toward normalcy will be a good one. Let’s hold on to the Lord and each other.

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Coronavirus and the Immunocompromised

Image result for coronavirus
Photo Credit: Harvard Health

It is hard to know where to start with this crazy pandemic that we are all facing. Every life is being affected, whether people are at severe risk of infection or not. My son’s track meet was canceled. All of my kids will not participate in a big youth competition for Bible related events. My daughter was heartbroken. More trivially, I’m kind of big sports fan: No March Madness, NBA, MLB. Hey, I was even enjoying the XFL, and like everything else, their season has been canceled.

It has been interesting to listen to different reactions. Some think it is pretty much a hoax (it is not). Others have become afraid to go out anywhere. Some have been interrogated because they returned from a zone where there had been an outbreak. A lot of selfish hoarding of supplies and overreactions is happening everywhere. There is also just a lot of speculation and bad information out there.

I’ve heard some people downplay the virus because it doesn’t kill a lot of people (percentage wise) and many more die from the flu. Just because people are dying from the flu, doesn’t mean that more people have to unnecessarily die from Coronavirus! Some of the projections from the CDC are downright scary if significant preventive measures are not taken to curtail the spread of the virus. This is from a New York Times article:

Between 160 million and 214 million people in the U.S. could be infected over the course of the epidemic, according to one projection. That could last months or even over a year, with infections concentrated in shorter periods, staggered across time in different communities, experts said. As many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die.


1.7 million people dead in American alone. By comparison, the CDC, estimates about 22,000 deaths so far this flu season. The estimate is a worse-case scenario if no preventative measures are taken. So, while you might think it is ridiculous that your kid’s event got canceled, it might actually have saved lives. Furthermore, when people act like it is no big deal that the elderly and immunocompromised may die, as long as the healthy live, they commit both ageism and ableism.

Every life matters and every life preserved is worth it. Let’s make sure our words are not calloused toward those who are most vulnerable to the mortal danger of this virus. I know many of my readers are immunocompromised, because of the disease itself and/or the drugs they take to treat the disease.

Not all immunocompromised people are at the same risk. And a lot of conditions and medications remain unknown regarding the interaction with the COVID-19 virus. Here’s an article that I thought was helpful in overviewing the issues. Here’s another article that discusses the issue of biologics and COVID-19.

Going back to the NYT article (link above), one of the concerns is that those infected could overwhelm the healthcare system. The best thing we can do for ourselves and for everyone else is to listen to the authorities and take preventative measures to limit the spread of the disease. You may keep someone from getting Coronavirus, and you may keep someone from getting flu. That wouldn’t be a bad thing either!

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The widespread reach of COVID-19 (Bloomberg.com).

For those of us who have concerns about the vitality of our immune system, I always discourage fear, because fear is not pleasing to God, and it brings about irrational and selfish behavior. But I do encourage prudence and emphatic concern for others. This is what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Take care of yourself. Take care of others. As my Granny has always reminded me, “This too shall pass.”

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