Journal entry by Vicki Bunke
During this shelter in place period, I started what I have affectionately called COVID projects. Things I have wanted to do for years but never seemed to have the time. Until now. One of the projects on my list included printing out photos and putting them in albums. It has been ages since I have done that so the project was equally tedious as it was rewarding. As the photos began to arrive in boxes on our doorstep, I began sorting them into piles on the kitchen counter. One afternoon, Caroline and our neighbor Cooper were looking through the photos.
Caroline was excited when she came across pictures from a trip we were generously gifted a handful of months before Grace died. Grace loved many things, but at the top of her list were water, swimming, and pigs. Yes, pigs. Knowing this, two families planned and funded a trip of a lifetime for our family to a private island in the Bahamas where we were able to swim in the ocean with pigs.
As Caroline and Cooper sifted through the photos from that trip, Caroline said, ‘That was the best trip of my life. I will never forget it. I just wish I could go back and do it over again, but this time without the dread of what I knew was coming.’
Her comment stopped me in my tracks.
…but this time without the dread…
Without the dread. Living without dread.
Is that even possible? I think so. In fact, I know so. But how?
I think it is possible by choosing faith over fear and hope over dread.
If faith is the substance of our hope, then fear is the substance of our dread. Basically, dread is fear on steroids – an extreme uneasiness in the face of pain and uncertainty. It is like an armed robber, forcing us to empty our emotional bank accounts while staring down the barrel of what we view as impending doom.
As we live through this current pandemic together, I don’t think it has ever been more universally clear that life can be difficult and that not every day is going to be filled with good news or enjoyable tasks. But God never intended for us to be miserable or live with dread even when things are not going our way. Instead, He wants us to expect good things and remain hopeful, regardless of our circumstances. And here are two thoughts that help me do that: Stay hopeful and don’t dread.
When you dread something, it simply means you’re expecting to have an unpleasant experience, which is the exact opposite of hope. Without even realizing it, I think a lot of people dread their way through the day. Prior to this pandemic, I think we were guilty of dreading things like rush-hour traffic, doing the dishes, doing laundry, paying the bills, cutting the grass, grocery shopping, cooking dinner, etc. Since the pandemic, it seems that we are more likely to experience dread by worrying about things that might happen or things we can’t control or change.
Rather than giving into feelings and thoughts of dread, I suggest that we have an attitude that proclaims, “I’m not going to lose hope regardless of what is happening in my life. I may not have planned for or wanted this to happen, but I know God can work everything out, even this, for my good.”
We need to remember that regardless of what life brings our way, God has a plan to make it better – a plan filled with hope and good things.
We need to remember that hope is stronger than dread.
The way I look at it, if Grace could face death without dread, then our family can certainly face life without it too. Ironically and ultimately, the only way I believe we can live our lives without dread is to live our lives with hope and grace. God’ grace.
I hope all of you and your families are doing way better than well!
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
(Psalm 91: 5-7)