While the COVID-19 pandemic has centered on both its physical and financial impacts, let us not fail to also focus on the mental and emotional health of Americans. Mental health during and after COVID-19 is the new crisis we must begin to address for all people—even the people of God
The novelty of SIP—shelter in place—is growing old.
Trauma is the emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury. COVID-19 is trauma that continues daily and will continue to impact us long after it ends. We begin our day with the latest death toll for our nation and the world. We end our day with questions as to if we, our family members or friends will be added to that count on tomorrow.
Trauma also occurs when there is a denial of something needed by an individual i.e., the lack of nurturing for a newborn child. There is no doubt emotional trauma incurred as we are hindered from the two key things God has created us for—purposeful activity and relationship with one another.
And what of the economic trauma being felt by all Americans? Shattered retirement accounts. Shuttered businesses. Unemployment of millions. Cars lineup for miles as people seek food and other necessities for their families. Many local pantries have been emptied while those that remain are strained by unrelenting requests for help.
Trauma now and trauma later
A recent interview with Dr. David Kaplin, president of the New York State Psychological Association explored how people are coping with anxiety, sadness, and grief. How are they handling their mental and emotional health during COVID-19? He had these key thoughts to share.
I don’t think the world’s going to be the same. I think with the loss of jobs—even after the virus is gone, people are still going to struggle. They’re going to struggle with “How am I going to pay my rent, my mortgage? How am I going to feed my family?” So, it’s going to be an ongoing stressor for many people in this country. What do you do when a person had their identity taken away from them because they no longer can work?
Anxiety, sadness, and grief
Anxiety, sadness, and grief accurately describe the range of emotions we are feeling as we move through this pandemic. Psalm 55 captures these same emotions as the psalmist describes his “fight or flight” response to the pending threat he faces.
My heart is in anguish within me, the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. And I say, “O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. (Psalm 55:4-6)
This individual lament reflects the unbearable frustration of being in a situation “outside” of one’s control. Is that not how we feel with regard to the COVID-19 virus? Like the psalmist, it would be so much better if we could be “somewhere else”.
“Cast your burden…”
After much trepidation, the psalmist ends his cry for help. Emotionally drained and exhausted, he realizes that there is only one way—the best way to release himself from this dilemma and the trauma that it is creating. He must remove himself from the situation and “cast his burden upon the Lord”.
To cast is translated to mean “to throw, hurl or fling”. To cast anything upon God is to relinquish control to God for His “providential disposition” (Neh. 9:6). This same meaning is conveyed in Psalm 37:5 when the righteous are reminded to “commit their way to the LORD, trust in him, and he will act on their behalf.”
As God’s people, we must trust and believe that our burden is God’s burden. God is for us and He cares about everything that keeps us awake at night—our family, our provision, and our future. To cast our burden upon God is to anchor our lives on His providence and His promise.
“God will sustain you.”
God will sustain us. While we have no forecast as to when this pandemic may end, we have the blessed assurance that God will sustain or “hold us up.”
In this context, the psalmist conveys the assurance that God will defend our cause, as though we were before a tribunal. Regardless of the forces that attempt to negatively impact us—forces seen or unseen—God will hold us up and intercede on our behalf. How does God sustain? God gives us hope while we are in our circumstance.
I have hope when I see the kindness of others being extended to individuals during this time of crisis. I see God’s hand moving on our behalf.
- National banks allowing forgiveness of debt while people are out of work
- Local landlords giving free rent
- Young people volunteering to shop for their elderly neighbors, and
- Individuals donating millions to replenish food banks
When I see these things, I see God is sustaining us. Look around you, where do you see God sustaining you? Where do you see God sustaining this nation?
“…the righteous will not be moved.”
God’s faithfulness will “never suffer the righteous to be move”. What does that mean?
The psalmist encouraged himself and all people to commit themselves to God, with confidence. God does not promise that He will immediately deliver us from the trouble that causes our cares and fear; but He will insure that we will not be tempted beyond what we are able to handle (1 Cor. 10:13).
God has promised that He will never suffer the righteous to be shaken by any trouble as to quit either their duty to God or their comfort in Him. For He that began a good work in us is able to complete it (Phil. 1:6). And if we, in our humanism should falter…if we should fall…God will lift us with His righteous right hand (Ps. 37:23-25).
Starting today, release the burden of COVID-19. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. Do you believe in God? Then cast your burden…your anxiety, your sadness, your grief, your fear on God. Let us as believers in the Resurrected Christ cast COVID-19 on the Lord. He is the only One who can do something about it!