Said one pastor in a recent tweet: “No more resources please.”
I could totally relate—my inbox is full of offers to help my church get online, free Bible studies, worship resources, devotional materials, prayer books, courses and conferences suddenly free and online. The information overload of the internet has not at all subsided in the current coronavirus pandemic. The flood continues, and I’m awash in resources available at a moment’s notice.
And Yet. . . .
And yet, good resources are as vital as ever, aren’t they? Last month I shared Responding to COVID-19 and Other Crises that included prayers, pandemic resources from the Mennonite Church, and my sermon on God with us in light of COVID-19 and always. I appreciate this list of resources curated by Graf-Martin Communications: COVID-19 Crisis Resources for the Canadian Church. I draw help and inspiration from Coronavirus Inspiration, Information, and Resources from the United Methodist Church and Together at Home: Resources for Staying Hopeful in Community from InterVarsity Press.
So while I’m feeling overwhelmed by too many resources, I’m also grateful for resources that strengthen and sustain me and make my ministry better. I need them to make it through this time even while a part of me also wants to say, “no more resources please.”
A Question on Lament
In this context, when fellow writer Dan Salerno asked me to share some thoughts on what lamenting means in this time of COVID-19, I wrote the following lament. You can see my original version alongside the reflections of other writers on Dan’s blog: Lamenting in the Time of COVID-19. Below is the same piece revised for today.
How Long, O Lord?
In the last five weeks, I’ve been invited to contribute to a special collection of COVID-19 meditations, a prayer book in response to the current pandemic, a newsletter of personal reflections on coping with physical distancing, and several other projects related to the current global crisis. All time sensitive. All invitations to donate my time.
Some of the invitations were phrased rather light-heartedly as if I might be bored at home and looking for something to do (no, I’m definitely not there yet). Others recognized that I might not have the bandwidth for One. More. Thing. (and no, I’m not there yet either, and doing my best to maintain a healthy margin).
I said no to most of those invitations.
Not because I don’t care about the current crisis. Not because I don’t want to help others get through this critical time. But right now, I have too much. I’m already producing sermons, compiling prayers, connecting with people by phone, text, email, Zoom, and other ways. I’m completing writing assignments I’ve already committed to. I’m having to come to terms with speaking engagements postponed or cancelled, the sudden loss of an editing contract, and the far greater concern for all that is happening in the world.
This then is my lament—between the overwhelming wash of too much and the need for help to make it through, for those with too much to do and those with time on their hands:
How long, O Lord,
will we be distressed and restless
and wondering what to do?
How long, O Lord,
will we try to cover fear
by doing more and more?
How long, O Lord,
until we find our rest in you?
If you have more than enough resources for this time, I get it. But if you’re looking for more, check out this collection of 30 prayers written by 20 different writers and compiled by Darcy Wiley: Pandemic Prayerbook: A Pray-at-Home Guide for the Coronavirus Crisis.
For more encouragement and resources on doing ministry better: