Recently I (Erika) began feeling overwhelmed more than usual by the grim daily death toll statistics and increasing number of friends and relatives of friends who reported coming down with the coronavirus. And about that same time, we had a scare in our own home.
Arianna, had been sick all week and was getting worse. On Thursday during a phone consultation with our pediatrician, she admitted that she was beginning to consider the possibility that she could have COVID-19. You can imagine how my Mama’s heart dropped and my anxiety rose as I realized what she was saying. While there were reasons to doubt a coronavirus diagnosis, there were enough reasons that we couldn’t rule it out. She wasn’t sure and wasn’t ready to order testing but told us to watch her closely and call with any news. We tried not to panic as we waited to see how things progressed. The next day Arianna was worse and so the doctor prescribed an antibiotic that is being used for coronavirus patients.
I carefully trekked to the pharmacy to get the medicine, gave her the first dose that night, and called on people to pray and within hours we had an army interceding for her.
Then Arianna began improving. She responded well to the antibiotic and ever since people started praying, she has been steadily improving. Over the weekend she was fever free, coughing less, and able to play more. She was even able to be up and around to celebrate Lily’s birthday which was a strong desire of hers. It was good to celebrate life for a bit in the midst of all the turmoil.
We are so relieved our girls are recovering and yet so aware of how so many around us are still suffering terribly. We may never know if she (and Lily who was sick with the same thing previously) actually had coronavirus since they only test severe cases. But we are more sympathetic than ever to those who are battling it around the world. And you better believe we are more thankful than ever for the precious lives of our two girls and the gift they are to us.
Meanwhile, as we felt the threat of the coronavirus within our own home this weekend, outside our home the death toll in Italy rose to over 10,000 which is “the highest death rate on the planet“. On Friday, almost 1,000 people died in our small nation of 60 million. There are almost close to 100,000 confirmed cases nationwide. Thankfully 12,000 of those have recovered. Yet those numbers don’t include scores more who are at home with more mild cases of the disease without an official diagnosis. We are hearing more and more from our friends and colleagues in Italy who have come in contact with it, come down with it themselves, or have relatives who are fighting for their lives.
We’ve been under social distancing restrictions nationwide for 6 weeks and under strict lockdown for half of that time with a good possibility that it will be extended at least into mid-April. Predictions are now estimating that we will peak in the next week to 10 days, but even so we will continue to lose many more as we come down the other side of the curve.
If that isn’t enough, we are now watching things escalate in the USA where this week it surpassed every other nation on the globe with the amount of confirmed cases and has hospitals in the epicenter beginning to look a lot like the nightmare scenarios here. How heartbreaking to see this sweep through one nation we love right into another, and throughout the world.
We are tired and our hearts are heavy, but we are committed to doing our part. In that vein, we pray that what we’ve shared doesn’t add more noise to your feed or launch another slew of anxious thoughts at you. However, if you need still more evidence to take social distancing seriously or encouragement to persevere in your new “shelter in house” reality, maybe this will compel you to find new conviction and courage.
We have the opportunity to respond to this worldwide crisis by sharing the weight of it together, by encouraging one another – infusing courage in another – whether in our own home or via technology to someone thousands of miles away. But we can’t even do that without going first to the God of all comfort. May we all look to Him despite the myriad of frightening distractions and then go to Him for true shelter. The Most High God offers rest there and we can trust in Him not to keep us safe from all harm but to be our “place of safety” when we make Him our refuge.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. (Psalm 91:1-2)
He doesn’t promise us that we will be spared from suffering, but He does promise to be with us through it all. Having just wrestled with the possibility of my own daughter’s life being at risk, I admit it’s not easy to maintain an eternal perspective though I know it’s our only true hope in times like these. No matter what comes, even if (you fill in the blank), our God is still good and trustworthy. And so, as I was encouraged by a dear friend and mentor today, let’s ask the God of all comfort to help us to change every “what if” thought to an “even if” statement (Habakkuk 3:17-18, Daniel 3:17-18). Then no matter the danger that comes, our refuge remains and we can give Him praise.