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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D.

Director, Yeshua Institute

As 2022 unfolds, there’s one word traditionally associated with a new year that I’m not hearing at all these days: Opportunity.

Almost nobody wants to talk about it – or even consider the possibility – as we find ourselves up to our necks (higher?) in Covid Chaos. How many times have we thought we could put it behind us?

And yet, here we are, two years into its incredible disruptions, including mass and tragic loss of lives, untold sickness, pain and agony, fractured economies and growing polarization.

Have we lost our minds yet?

I know some have. And I know a lot more who are fighting not to with every cell in their bodies.

Hang in there. One day at a time.

The stories I hear from educators, health care workers, food servers, bartenders, managers, workers – the volume and diversity of life-changing impacts are truly mind-boggling. I can’t begin to get my head around it.

As a sailor on the Battleship Arizona might have reasonably asked on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, how can I speak of opportunity at a time like this?

My answer is that my perspective is faith-driven. I know how the story ends.

Although I confess that I have to remind myself more often these days.

Nothing is easy in the midst of a pandemic.

Lately, as the Omicron surge adds another chapter to the story, it’s easy to get caught up in the immediate challenges of the day. Patients need to be hydrated or intubated. Students need to be tested, sent home or isolated in a corner of the classroom. Workers need to be urged to wear masks or go home.

Who would ever have thought that getting a vaccine, much less wearing a mask, would become a political issue? We are trying to cope with things we never even envisioned two years ago. We are learning fast – but not liking everything we are learning.

Did you say opportunity? To what – survive?

Well, there is that. Seriously.

This is no time to take survival for granted. If we or our loved ones are alive, that’s a reason to be grateful. If they’re reasonably healthy – having avoided Covid or gotten through it with no lasting ill effects – that’s another reason to be grateful.

And now is a good time – a great time, really – to focus on things for which we can be grateful.

Life. Health. Loved ones, family and friends. A chance to earn. A chance to learn. A meal. A smile. A pillow on which to rest our weary head. A bed to cradle our aching bones.

Every winter morning I fervently thank God for the inventors of central heat and indoor plumbing. Would it be too much to canonize them? Yes, I’m asking. Seriously. Noble work they have done in service to the human community.

The harder it is to feel grateful, the more important it is that we try. Gratitude can get us through the day, especially a particularly grueling day.

There’s no denying that life is hard. It’s demanding. It’s painful and occasionally heart-breaking. Why? I have no idea. I do see growth coming from adversity, but I often wonder why situations have to get so adverse.

Couldn’t we learn what we need to know at less cost? Couldn’t we? Please!

And yet, somehow I’m still in touch with a world full of promise, full of hope, full of fun and festival. My universe is full of abundance – overflowing with it.

Right now, I’ll confess, it’s a little tough getting in touch with that conviction. But it’s there. Down deep. Where the roots of my faith abide. Okay, so I have to go looking for it. Consciously. Deliberately. But it’s there. And when I try hard enough, I find it. Always.

Prayer helps. It helps a lot. I’m not too keen on formula prayers. I prefer my own words. And I’m comfortable expressing my raw emotions to my Maker. Why not? God knows already. You can’t hold back with God. Revelation is above my pay grade. And I’m comfortable with that.

God is in charge. I’m good with that, although His ways are largely unknown to me. Honest truth: on many days I can’t defend those ways, at least not the way they sometimes manifest themselves in the lives of those around me. I feel their pain.

But I trust that somehow, some way all is for the good – even though I don’t have a clue about how that could be. Still I trust.

And so I believe, with all my heart and spirit, that I know how the story ends. We win. We all do. For sure.

That’s the opportunity I see. To live, to love and to serve something – Someone – much, much larger than myself.

It’s a good day … in a great year … in a blessed life … in a vast universe, maybe a multiverse, where Love wins and holds us ever so close … even on our worst days.

We’re in good hands. So grateful for that. Now just need a little more patience.

Happy New Year! We’ve got this.

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