Collective trauma occurs when a population as a whole is wounded. How can we respond to the long-term mental and spiritual effects of the tumult that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought? Children have not had adequate time for socialization; parents have been stressed into sleepless nights by constant work and family care; elders have been isolated from family and friends; church communities could not gather for worship, fellowship, or mission. How are we now experiencing the sustained effects of having to value the opposite of what we hold dear? Over the long haul, a community’s capacity to function can be pushed to the limit. What if one questions whether one can endure suffering that seems to have no end? What if outward conditions change but the inward effects of what has been remain with us?
The sequence of effects in Romans 5:3-5 is often read as a spiritual demand, a moral ideal to be achieved. In difficult times, the promise that suffering will produce endurance, character, and hope may seem too much to bear.
Can we read this verse—originally written to early Christians—not as a demand but, rather, a comfort? Might we put away moralistic interpretations and read it anew as a nudge, a reminder, an opportunity to refocus, especially when the damaging effects of life seem too much to bear?
It is a reminder that when we pay attention to the evidences of God’s love, we are reawakened to the truth that “hope does not disappoint us.” Consider the small signs of God’s love in creation: birds that migrate and reappear on our windowsill; spring animal babies born in the woods; the beauty of leaves in the fall. All these and more are reminders of life lived, hope sustained, and love renewed.
Notice one sign of God’s love in your surroundings, and concentrate on that for a long moment. Give thanks for every sign of hope and love that appears to you.
In our society we often privilege intellect and expertise. However, in Proverbs we read that God values wisdom. Wisdom has been present since the beginning, and some early theologians understand this Wisdom to be none other than the Son of God. Part of wisdom is understanding our place in the universe. The psalmist marvels at the vast display of God’s power in the heavens yet also recognizes that humans are a manifestation of God’s glory. The New Testament readings invoke the Trinity as we approach Trinity Sunday. Paul says that we have peace with God through Christ, and we are given the Holy Spirit. In John’s Gospel, we read that Jesus Christ has received everything from the Father, and the Spirit will guide his followers into all truth.
Read Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31. When have you heard God calling out to you?
Read Psalm 8. The author reminds us that our shortcomings are not because we are only human but because we fall short of our humanity. How do you strive to be more human—a little lower than God?
Read Romans 5:1-5. How do you allow God’s peace to calm you when you feel your life swirling around you?
Read John 16:12-15. To which person of the Trinity do you feel “closest”? How can you develop your relationship with the other two persons?
Respond by posting a prayer.
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