COVID-19, Psalm 25, and our Comfort

A reflection on Psalms of Faith & Covid 19 and us – we are ‘shifted’……….. The virus has now been in Canada for over 150 days, since Jan 25, when the first person was diagnosed in BC. Genevan Psalm 25 verse 8 in the DUTCH version reads: “Zie op mij in gunst van boven; Wees mij toch genadig, HEER; Eenzaam ben ik en verschoven: Ja, d’ ellende drukt mij neer. ‘k Roep U aan in angst en smart; Duizend zorgen, duizend doden, Kwellen mijn angstvallig hart; Voer mij uit mijn angst en noden.”

Translation: “Look at me in favor from above; Have mercy on me, Lord; I am lonely and shifted: Yes, the misery presses me down. I invoke You in fear and sorrow; A thousand worries, a thousand dead torment my anxious heart; Take me out of my fears and needs.”

The total deaths so far in Canada and the USA is well over 138,000 (July 1, 2020) out of 2.8 million confirmed cases. Far more people die who get COVID 19 then from the flu.  In the US about 50 million+ catch the flu each year and 40,000+ die but as you can see, the COVID-19 virus is much more deadly. There have been 25 deaths from COVID-19 in the Halton region (Burlington, Oakville, Milton & Halton Hills) since the beginning of March 2020 and 1 new case confirmed yesterday, June 30th, bringing the total to 836 confirmed. It has not stopped spreading.

Of the total 25 deaths, 15 were in the 80+ category. Nellie and I are almost in that category at ages 78 and 77. So certainly the Psalm verse above speaks to us clearly. As the verse says we are ‘alone a lot’ (‘eenzaam’) and have been sorely ‘shifted’ in our (home and body) comforts and what is needful and what is important.

We lament the destruction of our communities and the (emotional and economic) wellbeing of our kids, grand-kids, relatives and friends.

It so frustrating, as we (cannot) do not see this VIRUS and yet people in the know tell us it is out there clinging to packages and surfaces and hands and bodies. We know the ‘flu’ and take some precautions but this virus at our Senior age can be stealthily deadly.

How will we manage for the days to come? Sure, we grocery shop usually (once a week) early in the morning, 7 AM with mask and gloves (we have not suffered food shortages) but I have been to the garden nurseries a couple of times and we have delivered church devotionals & bulletins and other support things to friends, family have visited us all with social distancing, we stand in line at the bank, but still it is ALL STRANGE. No church or choir or other gatherings etc. What about birthdays, graduations and celebrations and God forbid, family sickness and deaths?

The Bibles for Mission Thrift store re-opened June 8, 2020 and asked us if we will volunteer, and assured us that they will use every precaution. Well, we are not sure. We know the cases in Halton are few, but it would be better to see an overall drop in cases. (Ontario still has a steady near 200 cases a day) Perhaps the final test for us should be: NO CASES at all for at least a couple of weeks?

On the gravestone of Teunis Zent and Jaapje Groenewegen-Kleijwegt in city of Brielle (a city first liberated for the REFORMED FAITH from the Spanish domination (for freedom) in 1672) you will find inscribed at the bottom, the words ‘Psalm 68: 2. The Dutch Genevan version of that Psalm reads: “Maar ‘t vrome volk, in U verheugd, Zal huppelen van zielevreugd, Daar zij hun wens verkrijgen; Hun blijdschap zal dan, onbepaald, Door ‘t licht, dat van Zijn aanzicht straalt, Ten hoogsten toppunt stijgen. Heft Gode blijde psalmen aan; Verhoogt, verhoogt voor Hem de baan; Laat al wat leeft Hem eren; Bereidt den weg, in Hem verblijd, Die door de vlakke velden rijdt; Zijn naam is HEER der heren.”

Translation: “But the pious people rejoicing in You, will dance with joy of soul, since they obtain their wish; Their joy will then, indefinitely, by the light that shines from His view, rise to the very top. Sing ​​joyful psalms to God; increase, increase the way for Him; Let all that lives honor Him; Prepare the way, rejoicing in Him, who drives through the flat fields (no obstacles for God); His name is LORD of lords.”

These folks heard the call of the Gospel and lived in the comfort of that call all their lives even though sometimes (WW1, the Depression, WW2, etc) the misery of it all pressed (shifted) them down.

We have an old tape recording of Opa and Oma Groenewegen (Teunis and Jaapje), already quite old, together singing Ps 68: verse 10: “Praise be to God with deepest awe! He loads us day by day, with His favor, that is the God of our salvation; who would that Supreme Majesty, then not respectfully praise………”

We wish you all a SAFE and comforting time as we together continue to go toward our unknown days ahead.

Blessings on you and your family.

Love & greetings, Take care!

JS July 2, 2020