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Backline and nonessential workers: You were made for such a time as this
Amber Albee Swenson
by Amber Albee Swenson
February 1, 2021

A few weeks back, I read an article about the ICU staff working with COVID patients in England. The article stated that these frontline workers were suffering major effects of PTSD. Nearly half the staff surveyed were anxious, stressed, and even feeling they would be better off dead. The findings, reported by Reuters, “show an urgent need for mental health services to be promptly accessible for all healthcare workers.”

In the Old Testament book of Esther, Esther and her cousin Mordecai would have been considered frontline and essential. But there was a whole army of people behind them, fasting and praying for the work God called them to do.

Those of us who are nonessential and backline warriors have a key role in what’s happening right now. Unfortunately, Satan has done a pretty good job of distracting us from the task at hand.

My family has been reading through the gospels during our evening devotions. Very often the Pharisees or Sadducees came to Jesus hoping to trap him. They tried to force him to take sides, setting him up to denounce the Romans or offend the Jews. In their eyes, there was no room for middle ground. But Jesus got to the heart of every situation masterfully without condemning or approving of either side.

While we’re busy taking sides and declaring war on anyone who thinks differently than we do, we’re missing the hurting. We’re missing the opportunities to ease the loneliness of the elderly and the restlessness of the young. We’re missing the opportunities to encourage and pray for our frontline workers who may not be faring well.

We’re missing the stress students are under—going to school in person one month, then learning from home, then having a combination of in-person and online classes. And we’re missing the stressed teachers who need our encouragement, prayers, and maybe a meal.

Mordecai reminded Esther to do what she could where she was because she was put there for such a time as this. We have the same calling.

Find peace knowing that God hasn’t called you to save the world or our nation or your state or even your city. We can obey our leaders and do our part to control the virus, but overall, most of us have relatively little influence.

But God does call us to love our neighbor. What are you called to do in such a time as this?

  • Pray: for your pastor, your friends in healthcare, your teacher friends, the kids you know.
  • Be a voice of peace, calm, and encouragement.
  • Be a listener.
  • Cry with the stressed-out healthcare worker or teacher. Mourn with the family who lost a loved one without the comfort of friends to console them.
  • Rejoice with the student or coworker or young couple who reaches a milestone but isn’t allowed to celebrate with all their friends and family. Send a gift card or a care package (put your newfound online shopping expertise to work!) to let them know you are celebrating with them from afar.
  • Check in with people who may have fallen under the radar. If you have a church directory, go through it and find a person to call or send a card. Handwritten notes can be incredibly effective ways to express our love.
  • Say hello and look the checkout person and the guy who gathers carts in the eye. Put a mask on and get out of your car to thank the person who loads your groceries genuinely. Let people know they matter to you.
  • Find tangible ways to ease stress, and if you don’t see any, then pray God would open your eyes to ways you are missing.

While we clearly need wise men and women deciding how to handle the pandemic, most of us can’t do a whole lot to change what’s happening out there. We can, however, make a difference to someone right here.