Epistle #30: What did you give up for lent?

As a young girl growing up in a small northern Iowa community and attending a small country church, we were encouraged to consider giving something up for lent. I remember giving up pop or television or hanging out with friends.  I remember trying to give up chocolate but that was a complete failure within a few days.  Since that time giving up something for lent has fallen in with making New Year resolutions, it just does not happen. If it does happen, I usually do not follow through.

With covid-19, I have given up everything outside of work and grocery shopping. I have not gone out to eat. I have not seen a movie at the theatre. I have not had my hair cut. I have not visited friends or family outside of my home. I have not traveled to interesting locations. I have not been to Des Moines for anything. I can truly say that during Lent 2020 I gave up everything. Or can I?

What have you discovered about yourself and those you love during this pandemic.

Are you struggling staying within the confines of your own home? Are you missing the day to day interactions with people? If you are a hugger this has to be a challenge to distance yourself from all those you love. Maybe you are struggling to keep the kids occupied or assisting them with online homework. Maybe your internal struggles fill you with fear and anxiety over our current situation. Whatever is happening around you at this time we can all agree that there will be a day where our life returns to normal.  What that new normal looks like may be a reflection of this pandemic and what changes we have adjusted to.

Let’s look at this closer. What might we be gaining by having this time to slow down. I know that I have taken time to reach out to my family to see if they are adjusting okay to their new norm. I have had time to be still and reflect on what is really important in my life. We have had time to gather around the table to share meals. We have had zoom chat sessions with family. I have spent time in the word and prayer which always seemed to be something I struggled to find time for when life was happening so quickly around me. I have been sorting through boxes of the past that were labeled from 2012 and 2015 after our last moves. The treasures and memories that I have found in those boxes have made me laugh and made me cry.  I have reflected on the positives of good health and enough toilet paper, thanks to Dan. Remembering that our God is bigger than our biggest turmoils. God is in the midst of the ugly covid-19 virus and finding a way to turn things around to reveal His glory. God has our attention now. We see congress working together to help the people affected by covid-19. We see people setting aside their own wants and reaching out to help their neighbor. We see families gathering around the table and sharing the moments of their days. We see people putting positive messages on social media, outside and inside their homes, on fences and buildings, on means of transportation, in commercials, etc.  This is a time that we can grow the Kingdom of God by sharing the positive message of Hope.

It seems after tragedy and uncertainty people turn back to God. What if this time we remained focused on restoring hope and faith in God within our world. What a changed world this could be. A friend of mine posted this prayer. This prayer may seem BOLD but I have this crazy faith that God wants to heal our land. I have read about miracles in the bible for over 57 years. I believe that He can save our world from this pandemic. Since we are all confined and have plenty of time on our hands, join me in praying this prayer daily and even multiple times a day. We have been promised that when we pray together He hears our requests. I am going to pray this prayer in full belief that God will answer and do great things. Will you join me in giving up a lot for Lent but getting on your knees? Let’s honor God in our stillness. Let’s pray this prayer and watch Him heal our world and nation. Our God is that big and mighty. God’s love is that deep and wide. Our God can do great things when 2 or more gather together in prayer.

Lord I come to you in prayer, to ask you in Jesus name, to heal the land, and to stop the chaos…and evil that is at play. May the lands be whole again! Please Lord, bring your glory down and bless each and every person here on this earth! Lord I pray that you would release us from this plague, and this epidemic, and crisis in each and every country. I pray you be with everyone who has lost their job or who’s jobs are at risk…I also pray you be with all the doctors and nurses and everyone who’s working hard to get things under control! I also pray for all the grocery store workers and truck drivers as well! I come to you and pray that there will be no more death due to this virus and only healing, in the name of Jesus! WE ARE NOTHING WITHOUT YOU GOD! WE NEED YOU! Eradicate this virus faster than when it started! Leave this world in wonder at how mighty the work of your hand will be! Let nations seek after you! May we all repent and turn to you God! In Jesus name, Amen!

Please dear Lord, heal this land as only you can!! Be with ALL of us!

Thinking of you
Lonna Nielsen


Church office phone: 515-462-4270
Church office email: StPaulLutheranChurch@hotmail.com
Pastor Brian Mortenson email: StPaulPastor1941@gmail.com
Pastoral Emergencies: 605-351-0867