When the COVID-19 virus first hit the United States, it ushered in a new vocabulary. Commonly heard words and phrases are: masks, PPEs, social distancing, and essential people and items.
The most obvious essential people are the doctors and nurses who are treating the COVID patients; then the health care professionals, epidemiologists, and researchers who are in charge of the overall planning for the pandemic. These scientifically trained folks are searching for medicines to treat the illness and vaccines to protect against it. They track cases, look for trends, and keep statistics, etc.
As the economy began to tank, other health workers (pharmacists, respiratory therapists, etc.) and other health equipment (masks, ventilators) were recognized as essential. First responders who work with the public are essential. The definition of “essential” broadened as time passed, quickly including grocery store clerks, stockers, packers, and truckers. Eventually, we now realize that every part of our everyday life is a cog in a vast wheel that turns, incorporating the minutiae of a well-run life as we know it.
Essential to Individuals
So far, we have talked about society in general. Now let us consider what is essential to each of us as individuals. First on everyone’s mind is family. It can scare us if we think our loved ones are in danger or do not recognize the danger they are in. We hurt when we can’t interact with family members directly and up close. My family leaves groceries outside for me and talks to me nearly every day. Living alone and, for the most part, being obedient to the “stay home, stay safe” ruling, it is the highlight of my week when my daughter and her family come to visit me on Saturday afternoons. I sweep out the carport, move out three chairs and three cushioned stools for the kids, and we visit safely outside. Jen says the littlest one wants to know, “Can I sit in Grammy’s lap TODAY?” The answer is still “no.”
Next to mention are friends and coworkers who check on us and encourage us and each other. Such friends show us love and give us comfort. Church members keep in touch expressing interest and giving the gift of their time on the phone.
Another essential element, as I see it, are the ministers, church staff, and church leaders seeing to the needs of us the congregants and preparing sermons, music, prayer meetings, mission opportunities, and updates on the sick, all to keep us engaged and informed. To aid their work we have the wonderful (and pretty much incomprehensible to me) people who know how Vimeo and Zoom work and can not only use it but help teach some of us more technologically challenged members how to use it also. Worship services and contact with other members engender the sense of God’s community where we are together, though apart.
Essential to Us All
Last to mention but not least is the one who is most essential to us all, in this time of COVID-19 and forever and always. God, our father, is essential for comfort (Ps.119:76), reassurance (Ps.91:4), protection (Ps.32:7), and perseverance (Ex.15:2). He is the one to whom we turn when we can’t go to sleep or awaken in the night with worries that refused to be packed away (Matt.6:25). God, who is in charge, knows what travails we are suffering with this virus. This is our God who holds our shaking hands while we suffer separation from our loved ones (Matt.6:27). God is the one who soothes our fears as we have to make alternative arrangements for activities from ordering food to getting up early to shop during “senior hours” (Ps.20:4). God reminds us that our true home awaits us with welcome when it is time to leave this earth. This God speaks to us through the Bible and to our hearts in prayer. To quote a song, “He is our all in all.” There are many things we call essential to our existence, especially now, but most essential is our life with God (Matt.22:37-38).