A little less than five years ago, I spent Mother’s Day in the hospital. Across the room from me, our beautiful baby girl lay quiet, gravely ill. The whole journey to this point had been a big jumble of questions and unknown. I couldn’t articulate to the doctors what made me bring her in, “She just didn’t look right.” And, they couldn’t articulate what was wrong. But, everyone was in agreement, this was one very sick little girl.
In an effort to get answers, the doctors ran every test they could think of. No one knew exactly what was going on, and no one could say when, or if, she was going to get better. During that time, we just had to sit there, clinging to what tiny bits of information we could gather each day and simply…wait.
This current experience with COVID-19 has drawn me back to that place. As I did then, I spend a portion of each day researching, looking on my phone, searching for anything that might help me feel a bit more informed and grounded. Similarly, I am relying on the experts to do their jobs, give me what information they can, and offer data and test results as we go along. But sadly, just as it was then, no one can really say when this is going to get better.
As humans, anytime we face the unknown, we also seek out answers. I need you to know that’s normal. Seeking answers is part of the way our brains try to protect us. If we know the answers then we can prepare, and if we can prepare, then we can shore up the mental/emotional/physical resources for what’s coming. Except…
we don’t know what’s coming.
Are our children going to return to school? I don’t know.
How long is this isolation going to last? I don’t know.
When/how hard is our community going to get hit? I don’t know.
Can I plan for summer, for fall, take a vacation? I don’t know.
How many people are we going to lose? We just don’t know.
As a person of faith, I am beginning to view the data, decisions, and guidance we have access to as “information manna”. In the Bible, manna is the name of the little honey-flavored flakes of food that God provided for the Israelites as they wandered in the desert. They had grown grumpy in their experience and started to demand to know where their provision was going to come from. Mercifully, even in their “grumbling”, God provided for them each morning with the manna they needed to get through that day.
Catch that. No more. No less. Just what they needed for the day.
Because of the unknown trajectory of this disease, we all just have to wait to see how it develops. And then, as the data comes in, the experts, officials, government, and schools will have the information they need to know how to proceed. As much as we want to prepare for the future, we simply cannot gather more information than there is. It is going to come to us as God wills, in His time, and according to the provision He knows we need.
So to that end, I am going to start trying to be satisfied on my daily “information manna”. If tomorrow I still don’t know if my kids are going back to school, that’s okay. I’ll find out when I’m supposed to. When I find out that isolation is being extended, or lifted, that will be the perfect time to find out. When tests come back positive and our local health experts are able to advise us further, I will respond accordingly. When we get to the point that I can discern if we should cancel our AirBnb for this summer, I’ll do it then. And when, probably not if, I know someone who is lost to this terrible disease, the God of all love and mercy will provide what I need for that day too. He always has, and as He always will.
Hang in there, folks. Please know that you are not alone in your desire to know more, but also that we cannot forcefully gather more than there is to take in right now. It is not a lack of faith to want answers, it is only a lack of faith to believe that you must have them to move forward. Be satisfied learning just what we need for today, and trust that He will send more information manna tomorrow as needed. After many long days of waiting for the information I needed, the day did come when I got to walk out of isolation and into the sunshine with my little girl. And He will let us know when we can go out again too.
Photo by Ümit Bulut on Unsplash