A Devotional Thought by Susan Cosio
I work as a hospital chaplain and spend my week “gowning up” and donning a mask, gloves and goggles in order to see patients. Many of them are facing a health crisis along with financial peril and emotional disequilibrium. For some, it is also a faith crisis as they wonder where God is in the midst of their distress and disorientation.
As a chaplain, I try to be a “non-anxious presence” to patients, families and staff, even in the hardest of times, but COVID-19 is something I haven’t navigated before. I’ve wondered many times in the past few months how to find peace in the midst of a pandemic.
Worry, anxiety and fear are a natural – and currently pervasive – response to stressful circumstances. Therapists say they have never seen so many people struggling with these issues. But I have found some comfort in turning my worries into prayer.
The New Testament book of Philippians says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6). I don’t think this means that we will never worry, but that we can replace our habit of worry with the practice of prayer.
Sometimes, patients and families tell me they don’t know “how” to pray. But I don’t think there is a formula. I believe “Help me God,” is just as good as any formal prayer.
Earlier this week, as I left the house for one of my morning walks, I was feeling tense about going into the hospital. So, I whispered, “God help me,” as my foot stepped onto the dirt path behind our home. I think what I meant was, “God, give me courage to face the day. God let me know you are with me. Assure me you have a plan.” But I couldn’t even articulate those desires. Yet, God seemed to respond to them.
About a minute into my walk, I noticed a hummingbird hovering over my head, reminding me of a close friend who had died of a brain tumor. A physician, he had always inspired me with his courage and compassion, even as he faced his own death. The hummingbird stayed near me for the longest time, as if to assure me that I was not alone.
A few minutes later, a flock of Canada geese flew in perfect formation just above me. It was a glimpse of nature’s rhythm that I don’t typically see until the fall migration. How surprising, I thought, yet how lovely and reassuring to see them now.
I then heard footsteps behind me and turned to see who was approaching. As I turned, my eyes were awed by the glorious sunrise displayed in the sky, with beams of light forming the shape of a cross. While I knew it wouldn’t change the situations I would face that day, it gave me peace knowing there was someone greater than I in control.
I don’t know what you are facing in your life right now. But if you are like most, I imagine you are feeling some anxiety and worry. Today, I invite you to transform your worries into prayers. It can be a whispered, “God help me,” or a cry from your heart, “Please protect my family.” Prayers don’t have to be fancy. They don’t even have to be put into words, but as you pray God will replace your apprehension with a sense of His presence and peace.
Susan Cosio is a friend of Pastor Phil’s and a hospital chaplain at Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento. The sunrise Susan saw that morning can be seen below in Share Your Art.