By Chaplain Aaron Klink
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel. Your savior.”
– Isaiah 43:1-4
To me, like to many of us, these past weeks have felt like a deep river, and sometimes like a fire. As a hospice chaplain, I am learning to comfort patients by phone, and video chat. Many other of our partners remain in our Skilled Nursing facilities and at the bedside of patients, and on the phone with worried family members. It is often our partners and staff who are with patients in their final moments because stay-at-home orders make it impossible for families to visit.
We all wonder how we can both provide care and maintain our own health. We are afraid, we are sometimes overwhelmed. In a treatise Martin Luther wrote when he ministered in the city of Wittenberg in 1527, which was then being struck by a plague, Luther urged people to keep serving their neighbors, mindful and heedful of what they knew about how to stay healthy, but in the midst of it all to trust God alone.
In this time, we are called to find new ways to serve our neighbors, and protect the vulnerable, and we do so trusting Christ’s presence with us. Isaiah reminds us that our faith, ever claimed by God in the waters of Baptism, will not save us from trials, will not save us from challenges that feel overwhelming, but in the midst of that we can trust God’s promise to be with us, now and always.
Prayer: Gracious God, you have promised that when we feel or are overwhelmed that you are indeed with us, that you have not forgotten us, and that no matter what we feel like we are going through, you are with us. Let our fearful hearts trust that promise so that we can continue to look out for our neighbors, your world, and one another. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.