by Sandy Mayle

I’ve just finished riding all the roller coasters at Canada’s Wonderland. All seventeen. What rides!  Dread-inducing hills, precarious summit pauses, blistering plunges, whiplash turns and dark, disorienting tunnels – some of it a blur and all of it out of my control.

“Wait!” you protest, “There’s a pandemic going on. Canada Wonderland’s still closed! How did you land a seat on those coasters?”

I watched the youtube video: “All the Roller Coasters at Canada’s Wonderland!” One click and I was sitting in the front car, headed for that first imposing hill.

Riding in Real Time

So no, I didn’t actually ride those coasters, only virtually (I wouldn’t have anyway – with age comes the courage to say “no” to what terrifies me!). But I am riding a real coaster in real time these days, and so are you.

We are riding the COVID-19 Pandemic. Its track features unnerving climbs, ninety-degree dives and sudden reversals. Powerful G-forces pull us in all directions. And no one in their right mind is whooping and hollering from the back car, arms raised in exhilaration.

Psychologists say this pandemic is triggering a fight-or-flight response in many of us, evidenced by faster breathing, tensed muscles and accelerated heart rate. Dips and dives in statistics, predictions and opinions stir up emotions and scramble stomachs. People are thrown for a loop by the loss of normalcy, the economic fallout, the vigilant guarding of our health, the distancing from friends and family, the illness, even death of loved ones, and the uncertainly of how long this will continue.

Now is the time for believers in Christ – all who have asked God to forgive their sins, trusting that Christ paid for them on the cross – to remember this: The pandemic might be our outward experience, but it doesn’t have to be our inner reality.

Who’s in Control?

The 2002 4Him hit, “Life is a Roller Coaster,” written by Mark Harris and Don Koch, describes times like ours and sings out a faith-bracing reminder:

“And as you go through highs and lows

and all that’s in-between,

the Lord alone is in control of this big scream machine…”

God alone is in control. Not the epidemiologists, not the supply chain, not the government officials at every level. And our Lord wants to firmly secure us against whatever we’ll encounter on this wild ride. In fact, He’s built in every safety measure we’ll need.

When powerful forces threaten to crush us or fling us from our seat, the Holy Spirit is the Guide Wheel that locks us to the track. When it seems the rushing wind swallows our anguished cries, prayer instantly reaches God’s listening ear.

And when sudden turns take us by surprise, God’s Word is our grab bar.

“And let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)

 This COVID coaster may scramble our thoughts, spin our emotions, nearly suck the faith from our spiritual lungs. The only prayer we manage may be, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.” But even when it seems we can’t hang on, we can discover He has been hanging on to us. When we come out of the corkscrews, loops and tunnels, we’ll see He’s been with us, faithfully holding us the whole time.

Flatten the Curve!

An increasing peace in this pandemic. A growing assurance of God’s care and attentiveness. A mounting sense of sufficiency, through Christ, for whatever coronavirus brings our way. It is possible.

This ride, at every turn, offers a chance to respond to God with our trust and perhaps encourage the alarmed around us. By the Spirit’s power, we can flatten our curve of dread. Minimize spikes in discouragement. Meet whatever’s over our next hill with God-confidence. And perhaps, even top that hill with hands in the air – not in foolish bravado, but in praise to the One who is in control of this big scream machine.

Sandy is a freelance writer living in Erie, Pa. She loves words, nature, and solitary retreats. Her newest venture is mentoring in the equine therapy program at a nearby horse ranch. She and her husband, Dave, have three sons and three grandchildren.

Cover photo by Gabriel Valdez on Unsplash