There are many aspects of our daily lives that have been totally transformed because of the Pandemic. With being at home, so many have had time for personal reflection. One of the most trying things for many was the closing/ limiting of religious gatherings. The reason being they are such a source of strength for many people. Spiritual services have helped so many get their lives on a better track, feel part of a community, and a source of strength during troubled times. COVID has been trying for everyone. So, here are some of the things I have read. Religion has been helping people get through hard times for thousands of years,” I read. “It’s tested and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Just read the psalms and you will see that it is all about people turning to God during troubled times.” https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/faith-crisis
My favorite research organization, Pew, had this to say:
Some Americans say their religious faith has strengthened as a result of the outbreak, even as the vast majority of U.S. churchgoers report that their congregations have closed regular worship services to the public, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Americans in historically black Protestant churches and those who describe themselves as very religious are particularly likely to say their faith has strengthened. One-quarter of U.S. adults overall (24%) say their faith has become stronger because of the coronavirus pandemic, while just 2% say their faith has become weaker. The majority say their faith hasn’t changed much (47%) or that the question isn’t applicable because they were not religious, to begin with (26%).
Chris Butler, the pastor of the predominantly African American Pentecostal Embassy Church in Chicago, said the virus has been financially and logistically challenging to churches, but also refreshing. Butler has been trying for a few years to shift the congregation to see that “God is not confined to or defined by a building.” They’ve been trying to focus more on outreach and prayer. “I feel like the disruption of the pandemic has made us live that in a deeper way. We’re having communion on the livestream, where everyone just gets their own element — taco shells and grape soda or whatever, and let’s do it. It’s lifted us up into our mission.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2020/04/30/coronavirus-deepening-more-religious-black-protestants/?outputType=amp
The survey found that women are more likely than men to say their faith has grown, older adults more than younger people, and those who pray or attend church regularly more than those who are less religious.
Positive outcomes for faith currently;
- Encouraging them to reframe events through a hopeful lens Positive religious reframing can help people transcend stressful times. Help them to see a tragedy as an opportunity to grow closer to a higher power or to improve their lives.
- Fostering a sense of connectedness. Some people see religion as making them part of something larger than themselves. This can happen through prayer or meditation, or through taking part in religious meetings, listening to spiritual music, or even walking outside.
- Cultivating connection through rituals. Religious rituals and rites of passage can help people acknowledge that something momentous is taking place. These events often mark the beginning of something, as is the case with weddings, or the end of something, as is the case with funerals. They help guide and sustain people through life’s most difficult transitions.
As always there are some negative feelings associated at as well:
- Feeling punished by God or feeling angry toward a higher being. Trauma and tragedy can challenge conceptions of God as all-loving and protective. As a result, some people struggle in their relationship with God and experience feelings of anger, abandonment or being punished by a higher power.
- Putting it all “in God’s hands.” When people engage in “religious deferral,” they believe God is in charge of their well-being and may not take the necessary steps to protect themselves. One example of this deferral is church leaders who say God will protect their congregations as they hold church services in defiance of physical distancing guidelines aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.
- Falling into moral struggles. People can have difficulty squaring their behavior with their moral and spiritual values. For example, health-care providers who are on the front lines of treating coronavirus patients may describe the anguish they feel as they are being forced to decide how to allocate limited life-sustaining resources, decisions that put them in the uncomfortable role of playing God. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/04/parenting/religion-family-coronavirus.html
I have friends and acquaintances from probably every faith in the world. I have reached out to many. Our connection to each other and our spiritual selves, in general, can give us strength during this pandemic. I will conclude with a message from Rabbi Zalman Carlebach of the San Diego Downtown Chabad, who sent a letter out this week.
”As the layers of vulnerability were pulled back, we began to see more deeply into ourselves and the world around us. This stripping of concealment has helped us identify what is truly important to us. Health of course. Family. Financial stability. Our relationship with G-d. We have come to realize that there is very little we are in control of. Plans of all kinds that were on the calendar were canceled in an instant. Each evening left us wondering what the morrow would bring. We have come to appreciate that there is more to life than the running around, work, extracurricular activities. The world stopped, and we suddenly saw into ourselves like never. For some that was so frightening that they escaped the mirror and navigated to places of fear and worry and blame. In fact, on some level, we all did this. But the gift of faith allowed us to dig deep and carry the message forward.”
As we roll towards an election year, so much about our lives and our freedoms of how this country was founded and our past, good and bad come into focus. I ask you all to remember that our past is what made us who we are today, as we live in the now we have the opportunity to change and become the person we hoped we could be.