hope and a future after COVID-19

A highly contagious respiratory virus, that could spread silently, making people minimally ill or lead to severe illness, prolonged hospital stays, and death-struck fear into some people’s hearts while others minimized or even dismissed the risk.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

JEREMIAH 29:11 

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

update-November 20, 2021

Searching through older posts to share, I was surprised to find this one I posted 1 year and 8 months ago. At that time few of us, myself included, expected we would still be grappling with a viral pandemic, COVID-19, in 2021 and into 2022.

I’m glad we didn’t suspect it then, as it would have made the situation even more bleak than it looked. A highly contagious respiratory virus, that could spread silently, making people minimally ill or lead to severe illness, prolonged hospital stays, and death-struck fear into some people’s hearts while others minimized or even dismissed the risk.

Now, a year and a half later the statistics tell the truth-

  • Global Confirmed-256,324,678
  • Global Deaths-5,136,380
  • U.S. Confirmed-47,539,865
  • U.S. Deaths-768,789

source:Johns Hopkins University of Medicine

So, I think the following piece I shared, based on the Biblical reference above, is even more appropriate now. Just as the people these words were originally written to waited a long time for their situation to change, so will we.

I believe we can use this time to develop and deepen our FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE-for ourselves, each other, our God, and in the FUTURE.

longing for hope and a future

Christians often read, quote, and share this scripture when they want to encourage someone starting a new venture like graduating or starting a business, or to deepen someone’s faith.

But when we take the verse out of context, we miss much of the richness and the true inspiration of the passage.

Earlier in the book of Jeremiah we learn that the people he was writing to were slaves, refugees from their native country; not just refugees, but exiles.

Life was tough; it had been for a long time, and would be for a long time more. This is what had been done to them.

” I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. 

 I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. 

 This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”

Jeremiah 25

Now I am not suggesting God sent COVID to us as punishment or as a divine object lesson. But this invisible virus has made us all captives trying to escape its harm in one way or another-illness, financial strain, separation from family and friends, interrupted education- and worst of all, losing people we love as death has stalked almost every family on earth.

We all know life is not perfect, bad things happen to everyone. But the way we look at our difficulties and what we do with them makes the difference.  

Jeremiah 29:11graphic by alittleperspective.com
graphic created by Christine Miller, http://www.alittleperspective.com/category/perspective/, used by permission

What a Bible scholar says

I’m not a Bible scholar but my friend Jeremy is. He wrote this commentary on Jeremiah 19:11 which he generously shared with me and you.

“This is one of the most misused verses in the Bible, but the comfort this verse offers is far deeper than the out of context promise often given to graduates.

This was a specific promise given to specific people as opposed to a universal promise to mankind, and it was made to them while God was destroying their nation, tearing down the Temple, and sending the people into 70 years of captivity in a foreign land.

Families were torn apart, people were enslaved; those left behind in a desolate homeland struggled to survive starvation. This was the setting of the promise.

But the promise God gave them was- no matter how bad things were about to get, God had a plan and He would not abandon them forever. 

The same God who promised Israel their suffering would end, and they would come into a brighter future because of the refining they would experience,  is the same God who brings us into the covenant promises. No matter what fire we are in, if it is the Lord’s chastisement we are enduring, God  will bring us into a better future if we allow the fire to purify us.

When you feel like giving up, endure. These people suffered for 70 years to receive this promise, so we can endure whatever length we must as well. ”

You can read the entire chapter here –Jeremiah 29

 

written by Jeremy Scott Wilson, B.A., Biblical and Theological Studies; M.A., Theological Studies and Church History. Jeremy occasionally blogs at Awakening to basics .

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 

 I will be found by you, declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. 

Jeremiah 29:11,13, NIV

exploring the HEART of faith, hope, and love

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

faith, hope and love in cursive letters

Dr Aletha

a desolate waste

Dr. Jonathan Weinkle, author of Healing People, Not Patients , referenced Jeremiah in a recent blog post about the COVID-19 pandemic.

All we can do is keep breathing.  Breathing in the desolate waste, hoping it will again be tilled one day.

The conditions for that tilling, however, are faith, repentance, and repair.  We don’t get to just decide to go back and till the desolate waste and expect crops to sprout abundantly.  We have to work for it. 

Another prophet, Jeremiah, predicted, as the Jews were still in the process of being exiled from the land by the Babylonians, “Houses, vineyards and fields will again be purchased in this land.”  But he meant seventy years thence, not the next day.  Things had to happen, conditions had to change, before that could happen.

Dr. Weinkle

Read his post at

Keep Breathing

True health stories-3 medical memoirs that share the HEART of health

I think the best medical books are those about real people who face real health challenges that are often life changing or even life threatening. There is nothing like experiencing a serious illness or injury to make you an expert about it.

I read lots of books for my own pleasure and to review for this blog. Although health/medicine can be a genre in itself, many different types of books and media can illustrate medical science.

Some are fiction including drama, comedy, and often science fiction. One I have reviewed here is

Say Goodbye for Now.

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW- A Novel
SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Most however are non-fiction. One in this category that I reviewed relates medical history.

Pandemic by Sonia Shah
PANDEMIC BY SONIA SHAH

Pandemic

Medical writers often explain medical conditions, offer information on treatment options, give advice, and encourage healthy habits. One of these is

Mind Over Meds

MIND OVER MEDS- book cover
MIND OVER MEDS BY ANDREW WEIL, MD

But as helpful and interesting as these are, I think the best medical books are those about real people who face real health challenges that are often life changing or even life threatening. There is nothing like experiencing a serious illness or injury to make you an expert about it.

And when the person with the problem writes or tells the story, we don’t just learn about it, we feel the emotions it provokes also.

Share your story

I have reviewed several of these “medical memoirs” here and will likely continue to do so. In a way, we are all living our own health journeys and many of you could offer reflections on how you and your family deal with your unique medical challenges.

If you are willing to share the perspectives you have gained through a health issue or medical experience, contact me; I would love to read it, and maybe share it here with my other readers. Your remarks may remain anonymous if you prefer.

Explore these “medical memoirs” with me.

The Best of Us

A Memoir

by Joyce Maynard

Ms. Maynard’s story opened with a  failed marriage/bad divorce saga with adult children torn between the two parents, persistent anger and bitterness, and attempts to ease the pain with a series of bad choices in lovers. Equally sad was her telling of a complicated  and ultimately failed adoption attempt.

Finally she and we can breath a sigh of relief when she meets a man and seems to have found true love at last. But that comes to an abrupt halt when he is diagnosed with cancer.

From then on she poignantly describes a life turned upside down as she enters new territory as a caregiver. As she relates how their lives changed, we the readers are changed also, learning to recognize what is truly important in life. As Ms. Maynard  writes,

“success, money, beauty, passion, adventure, possessions- have become immaterial. Breathing would be enough.”

Read this book if you want your assumptions about life and death to be challenged and changed. You may read an excerpt at this link

The Best of Us-Chapter 1

Tears of Salt

A Doctor’s Story

by Pietro Bartolo; Lidia Tilotta

Dr. Pietro Bartolo practices medicine on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, in the Mediterranean Sea. Lampedusa, known for its friendly people, sunny skies, pristine beaches, and turquoise waters famous for fishing, seems an idyllic place to live, work, and visit.

But for the past 20 years, Dr.Bartolo has cared for not just residents and tourists, but for hundreds of refugees- people who risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean from northern Africa, fleeing poverty and political unrest. The lucky ones land on shore injured and sick. The unlucky ones wash ashore dead, having died en route or drowning after falling from a capsized or wrecked boat, sometimes only a few feet from shore.

In this memoir, Dr. Bartolo shares the stories of many of these people, giving them the names and faces that we don’t see watching news stories about the refugee crisis. He also shares his own life story of growing up on the island, leaving for medical school, and returning to raise a family and to practice medicine.

Dr. Bartolo’s story was also told in the documentary film FIRE AT SEA

He never expected to become the front-line help for hundreds of desperate people. With no specific training on how to manage an avalanche of desperate, sick, and injured refugees, and with little resources, he manages to put together a system for triaging, evaluating, and treating these people, then sending them on for more advanced medical care or to immigration centers in Europe.

For the less fortunate, he serves as medical examiner, to determine the cause of death for those who do not make it to Lampedusa alive; sometimes taking body parts to extract DNA to identify them, so families can be notified. He states he has never grown comfortable to this aspect of his job.

As a physician myself, I marvel at Dr. Bartolo’s caring and commitment to people who will never be able to repay him for his sacrifice. He approaches his work as a mission of mercy, and treats every person with the utmost respect, no matter their circumstance. Some of the people he treats become almost like family; he has even tried to adopt a couple of orphaned children but cannot due to legalities.

Dr. Bartolo’s story reads like a conversation. I think you will like him, and admire him for his dedication and selfless service.  His life should encourage all of us to consider what we can each do to lessen someone else’s suffering.

Follow this link to my review of

Love conquers fear-a memoir of hope

The Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness and Peace

I received a free digital or paper copy of these books in return for posting a frank review on my blog and/or social media.

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Dr Aletha

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