This is one chronic patient's intercession for the tens of millions suffering with Long COVID, whether patients, families, or friends. I am humbled and grateful to make space for the stories of a few of these courageous people. If you live with ME/CFS, POTS, fibromyalgia, or autoimmune disease and see yourself in the following, may the Lord enfold you into the intercession as well. The doves mark section breaks, in the event reading this requires multiple sittings.Courage, dear hearts.
Good Shepherd of the sheep,
Master of the great feast,
Lord of the harvest,
I worship You.
Today I bring You my burden
For those suffering over the long haul from the ravages of a pandemic virus.
Their needs are many, too great for the strongest and most influential woman,
Much less one such as I.
All I can do is bear them my heart to Your throne of grace.
You have mercy and grace to help them in time of need.
And You can sway the hearts of Your people to help carry the cross of disability.
If You are willing, can even heal.
Lord, I bring You the mothers nurturing from the sofa;
The artists whose creative vision is blurred by brain fog;
The athletes bound to wheelchair and home;
The scientists whose bright intellects have been dimmed and dulled;
The physicians imprisoned in home or bed from infections in the line of duty;
The millions slogging through hours of work to earn their bread,
Who keep their illness secret for the security of their posts;
The millions more unable to work at all, but refused disability assistance
And struggling to meet basic survival needs;
The children and young people whose promising futures vaporized
When we, their elders, did not shield them from disease, disability, and death
Borne like vapor on the air.
I bring You the wife deciding between taking a shower and preparing a meal,
Both in the same day exceeding her capacity.
I bring You the mama fighting through Long COVID brain fog
To care for her daughter, who received
A dementia diagnosis at age 19,
Dementia caused by COVID.
I bring You the sufferers weary of research
And demoralized by begging for validation, protection,
A listening ear and the kindness of understanding.
I bring You those traumatized by medical disbelief, dull ears, denial.
I mourn these broken bodies and damaged futures.
I lament our guilt, our culpability
As a church and as a society.
Our sins are many and grievous.
We have not loved You with our whole hearts,
Nor our neighbors as ourselves.
I am heartily sorry for these our misdoings.
Forgive us, Lord. Forgive me, Lord,
For my failures to love these battered bodies and bruised souls well.
They are persons clothed with the inherent dignity of Your image.
We have not honored that humanity
And treated their lives as sacred to You.
Awaken Your church to true repentance—
We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves—
To relinquish excusing our wrongs
And to love You by loving the least.
What we do to the sick and in prison,
We do to You, Lord Christ.
Have mercy on us for the hardness of our hearts,
O Savior of the pierced side.
Lift our gaze from our own internecine quarrels
To the ocean of desperate need all around us.
Open our ears to the cries of the tens of millions
Incarcerated and alienated by sick bodies and beds of suffering.
Good Shepherd of the sheep,
Gather the forlorn and forsaken sheep into Your arms;
Carry them through the dark valley to the pace of Your pulse;
Extrude Your undershepherds to guard, nourish, and abide with them.
Master of the feast,
Send forth Your servants to bear
On stretchers the sick and disabled,
Welcoming them to the gracious abundance of Your hospitality,
Not dependent on performance, appearance, or productivity,
But only on their need and willingness.
Lord of the harvest,
Raise up Your fellow workers
To go forth weeping,
Carrying the seed of Your Word,
The seed of the gospel,
The seed of promises and hope;
Cultivating Your truth;
Pouring out Your life-giving water
In hope of a harvest of joy.
Lord God Almighty,
Raise up helpers to do for them what they cannot do;
Raise up givers to bear the financial burden of those unable any longer to lift it for themselves;
Raise up advocates to fight for and with them through the torturous disability and accommodation process;
Raise up physicians, wise and patient, believing their witness of suffering and weakness,
Curious, diligent, and dedicated to finding anodynes now and, one day, cures;
Raise up teachers and tutors for the children who can only learn at home;
Raise up servants willing to help them on their own terms, gladly stripping off pride and self-preferences to wash their feet;
Raise up friends and comforters with listening, empathetic ears,
Kind eyes, shared tears, ready to sit with Job on the ash heap in silence;
Raise up prophets speaking forth words of life, forgiveness, hope, and peace;
Raise up just leaders ready to act with integrity and humble service,
Valuing moral duty above political expediency;
Raise up pastors to instill courage in the downcast,
To strengthen marriages to endure the furnace of chronic illness,
To support grieving, anxious children who have lost their Before-COVID parent
Though that loving heart still beats.
Be all these things in Yourself, Lord:
Helper, giver, advocate,
Physician, teacher, servant,
Friend, prophet, leader, pastor.
You are these and more
And can form us into Your likeness,
To do after You what we see in You,
To follow in Your steps.
Look upon the multitude of sufferers with Long COVID,
The patients and families,
Who need all this practical aid,
And also the care and cure of their souls.
Who will You send, Lord? Who will go for You?
Where are the churches who will search out these lost lambs?
These invisible ones, like lepers, exiled outside the camp?
Who will bend low in humble service,
Be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who cannot respond in kind?
Who will join the fellowship of the beautiful feet,
Extending good news
Of hope in Jesus,
The enduring kingdom to come, the new bodies awaiting,
A purpose in our suffering,
All things cooperating for good for those who love You.
The chronically ill will not, cannot, likely
Fill coffers or pews, fold bulletins or chair committees.
They cannot teach Sunday school or sing in choir.
Yet lavishing love on the languishing
Is lavishing love on Christ.
Few of these vast needs can I meet,
Hardly any, in fact,
But a listening ear and loving heart,
A will to believe their testimonies—
These I can offer.
I can seek to share the comfort You have given me in my own afflictions.
It is a joy and privilege to learn from them
As they look out their virtual windows
Into mine, and we make eye contact:
What are these bread crusts and sardines in the face of so many millions of needs?
Yet here I am, Lord. Send me as You will. Use me as You will. If You will.
Bless and multiply these crumbs for Your name’s sake.
Good Shepherd of the sheep—
Seek the lost and wounded and bear them up in Your strong arms.
Master of the great feast—
Summon and serve the sick and disabled,
Made welcome under Your banner of abundant love.
Lord of the harvest—
Raise up faithful workers and send them into Your fields
To labor diligently to gather in the fruit of Christ’s suffering.
Your kingdom come, Father.
Your will be done,
For Your glorious name’s sake.