“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Friday, April 23, 2021



She gazed out the kitchen window, not looking at anything in particular. LaRee was contemplating. “I wonder if we’ll ever get out from beneath COVID?” She turned to look at me: “Will life ever return to normal?” Who could blame her for being discouraged? The COVID pandemic has gone on longer than anyone thought. Too long. It’s been well over a year of lockdowns, ever shifting public health directives, and things seem to be getting worse not better, despite a mass vaccination campaign. COVID variants and mutations are out-pacing science. 


LaRee and I have been married for forty-eight years. I know her. Something new happened to pile on the daily bad news the media is so quick to tell us about. I asked a stupid question: “Why are you so gloomy? What’s up?” LaRee gave me a look as though I must have just climbed out from beneath a rock.  “Have you read the latest news? There’s new COVID variants every few days more transmissible that may be resistant to the vaccines. Two of our grandchildren are in quarantine from exposure to COVID at school. Our son and a granddaughter already have compromising lung conditions which put them at greater risk with COVID; and do I need to remind you that we haven’t been able to visit most of our family in over a year?!” All those things are true. Since the beginning of the pandemic, my wife and I have been diligently following distancing, masking, hand washing, and any other directions health authorities recommend. After all, we are seniors and I have two pre-existing health conditions that put me at higher risk: multiple sclerosis and hypertension. But social distancing can create social isolation.


Strangely, life with poor health is actual a strength. It was because of chronic illness, disease and disability that I slowly discovered lonely isolation can become gentle solitude. Solitude’s quietude allows people to tend to their inner development and interior spiritual life. 


Thirty-seven years with severe degenerative multiple sclerosis put me in an electric wheelchair. I often dreamt of better days despite desperate situations, regardless of whether I could enjoy them. I dared to dream of the unlikely or impossible because Christ was with me. Most of my dreams did not come true, but He was with me. And so, I looked up with hopes and dreams rather than down with sorrow or despair. When I didn’t think things could get physically worse, I had an unexpected mini-stroke, or as my neurologist affectionately called it, a ‘transient ischemic attack’ (TIA). (Don’t you love those highfalutin medical terms.) It put me a high risk of a subsequent major stroke, and yet an inexplicable peace descended upon me. He was there. Christ. 


Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”[1]


And God’s divine consolation intensified even more when I was diagnosed with cancer. As I was wheeled on a gurney into an operating room for surgery, Christ was with me with the sublime assurance: “Be Not Afraid. I AM with you.”[2] I went under anesthetic completely at peace with whatever was His will. I can not tell you how much that understanding meant to me. Regardless of what health crises befell me or how sick I became, … the presence of God was greater.


During it all, I have known Christ has been with me. At the most unexpected moments — and often my sickest moments — I was often engulfed by a fleeting sacred child-like joy completely at odds with my circumstances; I came to treasure them. My interior man is learning to be content regardless of the situation. 


For those who do not yet know Christ, seek Him. He is seeking you! Jesus said,Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”[3] In Him you will find joy and love, purpose and meaning to life.


Christians can use lockdowns of the pandemic to draw nearer to Christ. He will draw nearer to you. Times of crisis can open wonderful vistas for spiritual growth. 


This is my point: Christ is in charge! Nothing slips by Him. He is with us in this global covid pandemic. If we surrender our lives to Him, no pandemic, no disease, no isolation can separate us from the love of God. Saint Paul said:

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[4]

Remember, he also assured us that all things work for good for those who love God.[5] I recommend that you read the entire 8th chapter of Romans. Contemplate and meditate on what it says. Let the Apostle’s words reassure you during this plague. 

Perhaps when this pandemic is over, you may look back at this time as a spiritually fruitful time in your life—a time when lonely isolation came become sweet solitude.  

Mark Davis Pickup

[1] Psalm 23.4.

[2] See John 14.27, cf. Revelation 1.17-18.

[3] Revelation 3.20. cf. Luke 12.36, John 14.23.

[4] Romans 8.38-39.

[5] Romans 8.28.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you for your wise words of encouragement, Mark. God bless you and your beautiful family. Jo Tolck