By Alex Padilla
COVID-19 has impacted us all in so many different ways and I am no exception. Financially, I haven’t had any work. As someone who works in live entertainment, I earn revenue through mass gatherings of people, something governments have told us to avoid. Mentally, I have seen the return of the anxiety I used to have. Academically, all my classes have moved online, including hands-on and lab-style classes. It’s affected so many other activities too. It was heartbreaking to wake up the morning of our spring musical’s opening night and receive an email saying that the university had canceled all shows and performances; I was assistant designer for the show. Weeks of preparation and long nights at school felt like they vanished into thin air. Physically, COVID-19 impacted me because I contracted it.
What It’s Like to Have COVID-19
How did I come in contact with COVID-19? I’m not sure. I believe I may have contracted it at the gym or a grocery store during The Great Toilet Paper Scare of 2020. My friends have often asked me how it felt having COVID-19. It felt like a bad cold with the lingering phenomena of completely losing my sense of taste and smell. I had no fever, no chest pains, and no difficulty breathing.
My dad, however, was quite a bit more ill than I was. He developed a high fever and an awful cough; I have never seen him so sick. His fever lasted over eight days, and he was coughing so much that we worried he had developed pneumonia. We were knee-deep in anxiety but, by the grace of God, he recovered.
My mom and brother also contracted COVID-19 a few days after my dad and I started showing symptoms; thankfully, both of their cases were mild. The one symptom that all four of us shared was the complete inability to smell or taste anything, even though our noses were not stuffy. I thank God every day that no one in my family had to go to the hospital.
Blessings in the Midst of Sickness
While we were ill, word spread through the grapevine. This was just one of the blessings bestowed upon us by God. The next thing we knew, people were dropping off meals and groceries at our house, but the most profound thing for me was all the people praying for my family. People who were perhaps lost in this world, straying away from Christ, were praying for us. God works in ways that are not always the easiest to see; this was one of them.
Now that the chaos has passed and I’ve had time to reflect on it, I see a direct parallel with the 10th chapter of John, specifically verse 16: “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” I believe that through my family’s being sick, Christ has called out to some of His lost sheep, and He has brought them into His flock.
How Being Sick Affected My Faith
With all the disruption, I must confess that I put my faith in the background. It wasn’t until I talked to my grandparents that I realized the sinful cycle I was in. They informed me that family members (whom I have never met or spoken to) in the Philippines had been praying for my family, and I just broke down in tears.
There I was–ill, stressed out, anxious, depressed, and putting God in the background–but overseas I had family I’ve never met who were praying for me and my family. That’s when things changed for me. I no longer felt stressed out, and my anxieties and depression subsided.
Alongside worldly needs such as food and sleep, I could not have gotten through this without my faith in Jesus Christ. For I had pleaded, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). Since then, I have immersed myself in the Word through reading my Bible, listening to hymns, and watching my pastor’s daily devotions. Christ took upon Himself the sin of the whole world, and beat death. God’s promises us eternal life through Christ. That knowledge is what pushed me to continue to be steadfast in the faith amid the COVID-19. I owe God all thanks and praise.
Thoughts from Someone Who’s Been There
After some time reflecting these past weeks, here are two things that I feel obligated to share:
First, I have seen lately on the news stories of young people gathering, often holding parties and street takeovers. I have also seen this on my friends’ Snapchats. They are completely disregarding the laws put in place by our government! This article is not the place for political commentary, but fellow Christians, you must remember the Fourth Commandment. As Martin Luther wrote,
“The same also is to be said of obedience to civil government…it is our duty to honor them and to esteem them…He, now, who is obedient here, is willing and ready to serve, and cheerfully does all that pertains to honor, knows that he is pleasing God and that he will receive joy and happiness for his reward” (Large Catechism I.150-151).
We are not to worship our government, but as faithful Christians, it is our duty to obey the laws put into place by our leaders (so long as those laws don’t make us violate God’s moral will), and it is also our duty to pray for our leaders (whether we like them or not).
Second, at one of the last Divine Services I attended I was reminded of the Fifth Commandment. It reads, “You shall not murder.” Okay, I’m not murdering anyone. But, “We are to fear and love God, so that we neither endanger nor harm the lives of our neighbors, but instead help and support them in all of life’s needs” (Luther’s Small Catechism).
Please Stay Home!
When we’re staying home and practicing social distancing, we Christians are not being deprived of our liberties, nor are we being persecuted. No, we are being faithful stewards; we are protecting our neighbors to every extent we can. Even if you don’t feel ill, dear Christian, you may be asymptomatic and could pass COVID to someone else. That is why it’s important to stay home as much as possible — so that we can be good citizens and faithful stewards. It is also essential that we help our neighbors. If you know someone who is ill, try to help them; bring them food and essential items if you can.
The Good News!
That was quite a bit of Law to end on. It is vital for us to obey God’s Commandments, even during these times of stress and conflict. But, fellow Christian, it is also vital to rejoice in the Good News that Christ Jesus has forgiven ALL of your sins. Because of Christ’s death on the cross, we can look forward to spending eternity with Him in His kingdom, where there is no sickness or death, but only everlasting life.
Almighty God, heavenly Father, give us grace to trust You during this time of illness and distress. In mercy put an end to the epidemic that afflicts us. Grant relief to those who suffer, and comfort all that mourn. Sustain all medical personnel in their labors, and cause Your people ever to serve You in righteousness and holiness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. (Collect for During An Epidemic)
Alex Padilla has been to a number of Higher Things conferences and served in HT as a College Conference Volunteer (CCV). He’s a member at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Irvine, CA. While a Theatrical Design student at the California State University in Fullerton, he works as a Sound and Lighting Technician at Knott’s Berry Farm.