“Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me,” we read in the beloved twenty-third Psalm. In these fear-heavy days, God still walks and talks with us. And when some of us sicken, and some die, he is there too.
His presence is felt through the caring service of brave medical staff, through his Holy Spirit and scripture, and also through the kind ministrations of others. People like the man described in this March 2020 letter noted on Facebook as coming from a doctor in Lombardy, Italy, an area deeply struck by COVID-19. (Please forgive the sometimes awkward translation.)
“Never in the darkest nightmares did I imagine that I could see and live what has been happening here in our hospital for three weeks. The nightmare is flowing, the river is getting bigger and bigger.
“At first some came, then dozens and then hundreds. Now we are no longer doctors, but we have become classifiers on the treadmill and we decide who lives and who should be sent home to die, although all these people have paid taxes all their lives.
“Until two weeks ago, my colleagues and I were atheists; it was normal because we are doctors and we learned science and science was told to exclude the presence of God. I always laughed at my parents going to church.
“Nine days ago a 75 year old pastor came to us. Gentle man, he had great respiratory problems. He had a Bible and we were impressed that he read it to the dying and they took him by the hand. As all the new doctors were tired, discouraged, psychologically and physically exhausted, when we had time we would listen to the pastor. Now we have to admit that we, as humans, have reached our limits; more we cannot do, and more people die daily. We are exhausted, we already have two colleagues who have died and others are unemployed. We realized that where what man can end ends, we need God and we begin to ask ourselves questions when we have a few free minutes. We talk among ourselves and we cannot believe that from ferocious atheists we have become believers to find our peace, asking the Lord to help us resist so that we can take care of the sick.
“Yesterday the 75-year-old pastor died, which until today, despite the fact that we had more than 120 dead in 3 weeks here, we had all ended up wanting; We are destroyed because the old shepherd managed, during his stay, to bring us a peace that we no longer expect to find. The pastor went to the Lord and we will soon follow him. I have not been home for 6 days, I do not know when I last ate, and I realize my uselessness on this earth and I want to dedicate my last breath to help others. I am happy to have returned to God while surrounded by the suffering and death of my fellow men.”