My friend’s son is hospitalized. This boy who was in and out of my home as a teenager, laughing with my daughter, doing homework, making plans for the future, always, always intentional about his actions.
He grew into a young man who married a fierce woman, had precious babies, and trained to become one of the top endurance athletes in the world. Strong of character. Strong of mind. Strong of faith. And it is simply not enough to say he is strong in body. He has spent years training his body for peak performance. It has literally been his career.
Yet beyond all that he is simply one of the sweetest, kindest people you’d ever want to call friend.
Did I mention that?
My youngest daughter’s age.
Too young to be confined to a respirator. Too young to be placed into a medically-induced coma or intubated or any number of those things you and I read about daily.
So people around the world are praying for him, for his wife, for their young babies.
What does prayer look like when you don’t believe God is an interventionist? I asked my husband, as we walked the neighborhood pointing out the Trump flags.
It looks like talking to a close friend, my husband replied without pause. When you are talking to a good friend about your child being sick, you don’t expect them to step in and make your child well, do you? Don’t you just talk to them and tell them what’s going on, what you fear, what you hope for?
Yes, I suppose, that makes sense. I can think of no time when I thought my friends were going to fix all the ills in my life.
Talking to God makes sense.
Hey God, it’s me, Karen.
Do you think God regards me as a meme of the privileged white woman, too?
I miss the faith I had at one time. A faith that was more an exercise in magical thinking than anything.
Instead of praying as if God were a close friend I was talking to, who listened and empathized really well; I would treat God like all those Karen memes suggest – as if my prayers were a take-out order that I wanted delivered on-time and to my personal satisfaction. Hurry up will you, God!
My very own Wizard God.
I am not even sure now that was faith as much as it was just a religious practice I picked up somewhere along the way. Whatever it was – faith in a wizard God, or the religious doctrine of a capitalist – it gave me a sense of control that I miss, especially so during the time of a lethal pandemic.
Unburdening myself with a friend is comforting but offers me no assurances of magical intervention, and such intervention is really what I want right now. Is, truthfully, something I have been seeking for the past 3.75 years.
Why? seems to be the question I ask most often when I talk with God: Why? Why? Why? Sometimes I throw in a WTF, but God’s answer is almost always the same, no matter the supplication – I’m here. I told you I’d be here and I am.
To which I almost always reply: Thank you for that.
Ask anyone who is dealing with Covid, or who has survived Covid, what the worst part of it is and they almost always say the isolation of it, not having the ones they love most present with them. The aloneness of it all. Not having the comforting touch of a spouse. Not being able to hug or be hugged. Not being able to reassure their child with a smile or a kiss.
In that way Covid is the ultimate cruelty – when you need the love of family and friends most, their physical presence is denied you. It’s almost like Satan himself thought up this virus to mock God, to laugh at us as we scramble for ways to reach out to those we love best.
This boy I watched grow into a man is dealing with all that and more right now.
Join me in praying for him and his precious family, will you?
And do as he pleads: Wear a mask.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Christian Bend (Mercer University Press).