Do not fear, for I am with you,
do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
Is there such a thing as hesitant optimism?
As Saskatchewan starts its slow re-opening today, in a five-phase process, opinions vary. Some are optimistic. Some are hesitant. Some feel we have been held hostage by government restrictions and physical distancing, that the re-opening is happening too slowly. The threat to jobs and the economy is thought to be worse than the virus itself. Others are fearful of the re-opening and what is yet too much of an unknown virus. With limited testing still and no vaccine, some feel it is too much of a risk to re-open. The mantra from the provincial government in this pandemic has been “we are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.” It sounds like optimism that is hesitant. Is that really optimism? The re-opening will happen slowly and with careful monitoring for outbreaks. On the one hand, it sounds reasonable, but on the other hand, how much risk are we willing to live with in the coming weeks and months. We may fall into complacency and forget about the the two- meter distancing, hand washing and care that has been taken up until today. Complacency might mean that we come in too close contact and even more people are infected. A recent outbreak at our local hospital affirms some of those fears. Can we re-open the province and still be safe.
To live with this hesitant optimism can be exhausting. And as I preached in my sermon yesterday, we might wonder whose voice to listen to with so much information and misinformation out there. As Christians, we listen to the voice of our Good Shepherd. This one has a relationship with the sheep, they recognize the voice of their shepherd, and there is a relationship of trust. And it is the voice of our shepherd which says, do not be afraid I am with you. I am your God. The psalmist reminds us to follow and trust our God. We can make responsible, reasonable responses that show care not only for ourselves and our needs but also for our neighbour. Care for our neighbour, showing love for our neighbour as much as ourselves is the new commandment that Jesus gives us. Protecting one another and ensuring the health and wellness of everyone is our call as Christians in the world. So, let us re-open society with care, caution, hesitance perhaps while keeping in mind that it is God who will strengthen us and help us with his mighty arm in this time of hesitant optimism.
We thank you, loving God, for giving us Jesus Christ our Saviour and Good Shepherd, who calls us to care for one another, whose voice we know and recognize. Strengthen us as the economy slowly re-opens to not be fearful, but cautious. Help us to maintain physical distance, and to support one another through the coming weeks and months. Lead us, guide us, protect us and help us to see all the ways that you are present among us . We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.