Saturday is always grocery day. In the morning, I go to the pantry with my cell phone and start filling in my three Google Keep lists with what we need from Costco, the grocery store, and the department store. Then I go out to the garage, where we keep paper products (a more valuable commodity than bread and milk these days) and add to my list from there. Then to the big freezer. Then to the refrigerator in the house.
Next I make a menu for the week and add whatever items I need to make dinners.
Last Saturday, I went through all of this normal routine with a growing anxiety. What would I find at the grocery store? What wouldn’t I find? I was going to hit the stores in the morning instead of the afternoon, and would there be a mad frenzy to grab items from shelves? I was near tears before I ever left the house.
When I got to Costco, it wasn’t too busy. I followed the narrow path they had made with carts, making sure to get the cart handle sanitized by the attendant. Then I walked through the store and got everything that was on my list, just like normal.
But when I got to the car, I emptied my cart into the trunk, put the cart away, and then sat down behind the wheel and wept.
We are suffering.
As a wife and daughter-in-law, it is my joy and privilege to put food on the pantry shelves and into the refrigerator every week. But for the first time in my life, I’ve had to wonder if that food would be available in the store.
And if I see friends in Costco, I can’t hug them or even get close.
And what if the economy tanks and money to buy food becomes the next issue?
And what if I go to the store and bring home a virus to the older women in the house?
And what if soon I’m not even allowed to leave my house?
We are suffering.
The grocery store is only one vein of the difficulty. We could talk long about all of the others, each with our own flavor of troubles.
There is one verse I have leaned on before, when suffering came into my life from many directions. It’s a truth about Jesus, whom we see as the suffering servant in the book of Isaiah:
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering. (Isaiah 53:4 NIV)
When I read this verse, I don’t feel like I have to pretend I don’t have pain or that somehow not being able to buy flour or legumes at the store isn’t a big deal or that my pain is less than someone else’s so I should just suck it up.
We have pain. We suffer in this world. It’s okay to say that what we’re going through is hard and makes us want to cry or curl up in a ball somewhere. The effects of this virus hurt, and they hurt in a lot of different ways that are unique to each one of us. We don’t know when the pandemic will end or how it will end, which adds to the suffering.
But Jesus already carried all of this for us.
Jesus already carried this for you.