A phrase that has gotten quite a bit of usage lately is Stay Safe! We might not even hear it anymore since it has practically reached the hackneyed status of Have a Nice Day.
Our two youngest grandchildren are eight and nine months old, a boy and a girl, and they are crawling, pulling up, and finding subatomic particles to put into their mouths. Instead of sitting calmly, they now careen across our laps, launching themselves blithely off, unaware our hearts have skipped beats and our hands tingle with adrenaline.
They are innocent and so safely loved that they have absolutely no awareness of danger impinging on their freedom.
Watching our little granddaughter, I sought to make her laugh and thought, Bubbles!
Somewhere in the cabinet was a container—was it still good? I blew cautiously, and a giant, opalescent wonder took shape and took flight. At first, she was mesmerized, but when it hit the ground and popped, she began to cry!
What? I tried again, and she, on my shoulder, buried her head, then looked cautiously out, her face puckering as the bubble drifted across the room.
The bubbles made her cry. She did not feel safe.
I put them away. It would be cruel, of course, to keep trying to show her they were harmless. She did not, and could not yet understand that she was both safe and safely loved—shielded from hurt or harm because of our great love for her.
This incident struck me as a metaphor for many of our lives lately. We’ve done what we were supposed to do—kept our children well-fed, educated, and immunized. We’ve worked, paid our bills, helped, donated, and then the pandemic happened.
As the numbers mount higher, and tensions rise, our sense of order and safety has been inversely shrinking, and now, even our homes can be battlegrounds between our desire for personal freedom and our need to feel safe—safely loved.
How to reconcile this? There are so many voices, and we must choose to listen to those we believe will steer us in the right direction.
But when we look to Jesus, we can see that he understands our sadness and confusion. He is our Savior, but he did not come with the promise that we could avoid cruelty, illness, hatred, and death. He came to stand in line with us and share in our fear, loneliness, abandonment, betrayal, mental and physical pain, humiliation, exhaustion, and even death. He stands with us because he was and is fully man and fully God.
And because he loves us so deeply and completely, his hand across our shoulders will ever keep us from careening headlong into darkness. He will assuage our fears and safely love us when we do not understand.
Because he clings to me, I will deliver him; because he knows my name, I will set him on high. He will call upon me, and I will answer; I will be with him in distress (Ps 91:14-15).