By Sister Jean Anne Zappa, OSU
The governor has asked us to light a green light for all the Kentucky citizens who have died from the Coronavirus as a sign of grief for the deceased as well as a sign of hope and compassion. The mystery of grace and our Christian faith enables us to cope with deep feelings of fear, pain and grief. Our faith does not provide a magical formula to eradicate those feelings, but it does sustain us as we try to make sense out of our pain, fear or grief. Our faith offers us a sense of hope and peace in the midst of pain and suffering. Our faith is not a replacement for suffering or grief, but rather mediates the grief to a greater sense of growth and life. Are we able to find courage and hope in this present situation of the coronavirus?
St. Paul reminds us in Romans 5: 3-5, “We boast of our afflictions. We know that our afflictions make for endurance, and endurance for tested virtue, and tested virtue for hope. And hope will not leave us disappointed because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”
Our Christian faith does not tell us to embrace suffering or grief or to suppress our feelings or fears. Rather, our faith comforts us in our pain and suffering, knowing that the fidelity of God is with us. The word compassion means to “suffer with.” God is a God of compassion. God walks with us, suffers with us, and shares in our brokenness, vulnerability and powerlessness.
When we experience the God of compassion in our sorrow and brokenness, our defenses break down and we can allow God to enter into our hearts. Suffering, fear and grief is not about endurance for the sake of our faith; it is about courage in the midst of pain, compassion in the midst of suffering, healing in the midst of brokenness. It is about endurance because we believe in a God of compassion, a God who suffers with us, a God who gives us hope.