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J'ai ressenti beaucoup d'empathie pour les Israélites dernièrement.Out ils viennent d'Egypte, se sentant énergisé et excité, excité et terrifié. Ils sont sautés sur l'adrénaline après avoir traversé la mer Rouge, ils se sentent triomphants après avoir vu leur ennemi être balayé sous les vagues. Et puis ils arrivent dans le désert, et ils regardent vers Moïse, leur chef intrépide, celui qui a une ligne directe vers Yahvé, celui qui a géré cette chose miraculeuse, et ils disent : « Ok man ! Quelle est la prochaine ? Quel est le plan ? Et Moïse les regarde. Et des huptises. Et les gens... n'aiment pas ça. Nous savons tous qu'on est censés juger les Israélites dans cette situation. O vous de peu de foi ! Mais je dois te dire que je ressens pour eux. Les plans sont gentils. J'aimerais que mes dirigeants aient un plan. En particulier, à l'heure actuelle, j'aimerais que les dirigeants aient un plan pour savoir quand et comment la frontière rouvre. Pour autant que je sache, une telle chose est inexistante. Et je ne sais pas pourquoi. Il me semble qu'un comité de gens, quelque part, pourrait s'asseoir et déterminer les paramètres de base que nous devons atteindre pour la première phase de la réouverture, puis la deuxième phase, et ils pourraient déterminer à quoi ressembleraient ces phases, puis ils pourraient nous dire quel est ce plan. Mais peut-être que c'est en fait assez difficile, car à partir de maintenant, aucune telle chose n'existe. Et donc ceux d'entre nous qui n'ont pas vu notre famille depuis plus d'un an, qui n'ont pas été à la maison depuis plus d'un an, qui n'ont pas retenu nos proches depuis plus d'un an, ne peuvent rien faire de plus que s'asseoir et se demander quand nous pourrions le faire. Et chaque fois que la fermeture de la frontière s'étend le 21 de chaque mois, je suis un peu plus triste et beaucoup plus frustrée. J'ai besoin d'un plan. Je dois savoir que nous travaillons à quelque chose. Maintenant — je me rends compte que les gouverneurs, les premiers ministres, les présidents et les premiers ministres ont les mains décemment pleines de ce qui se passe dans leur propre cour, et que je pleurniche au sujet de la frontière est peut-être un peu égoïste compte tenu de l'état des cas de Covid dans les deux provinces de l'Ontario et Michigan. Nos dirigeants essaient d'éteindre les incendies et de faire face à des crises d'énormes proportions. C'est un travail que je n'envie pas, et quelles que soient mes frustrations quant à la façon dont certaines de ces choses ont été gérées, les gens qui nous ont aidées à traverser cette affaire ont mes remerciements et mon respect. Mais je me demande si, même en répondant aux crises, une partie de ce que les dirigeants doivent faire maintenant est l'avenir. Et projetant une vision. Et parlant dans un langage d'espoir. Encadrer tout dans l'espoir. On dirait que ça a toujours été l'inverse. « Les vaccins semblent efficaces ! MAIS nous ne savons toujours pas si les personnes vaccinées peuvent transmettre le virus. » « Des millions de personnes ont bien répondu à J et J ! MAIS six personnes ont eu des caillots sanguins, alors nous le mettons en pause. » Je comprends. Nous voulons errer du côté de la prudence. Il y a beaucoup d'inconnues et nous devons être sages et prudents. Personne ne veut attirer le public dans un faux sentiment de sécurité et de manque de sécurité. Nous avons prouvé que nous ne faisons pas très bien pour suivre les règles même lorsque nous prenons les choses au sérieux. Mais je ne peux m'empêcher de me demander si inverser le récit — si parler dans l'espoir et passer plus de temps à jeter une vision pour l'avenir — nous motiverait davantage. Si nous serions plus disposés à boucler si nous savions au moins à quoi nous travaillons, si nous avions des objectifs, si nous avions un plan. Est-ce que nous nous inquiéterions du nombre de personnes qui ne recevront pas le vaccin si le récit autour du vaccin avait été beaucoup plus célébratif et plein d'espoir qu'il ne l'a été ? Si l'histoire était plus « REGARDEZ COMMENT C'EST INCROYABLE » et moins « Voici tout ce qui pourrait mal tourner » ? Et cela me demande... passons-nous souvent trop de temps à se concentrer sur ce qui a mal tourné et qui pourrait mal tourner, et pas assez de temps à jeter des visions pleines d'espoir pour l'avenir ? Et cela nuit-il à notre capacité de travailler ensemble pour que le changement se produise ? Pourrions-nous obtenir plus d'influence de la part d'un plus grand nombre de personnes si nos conversations autour de questions difficiles et controversées étaient encadrées par plus d'espoir et moins de peur, plus de vision et moins d'anxiété, plus d'élan et moins de blâme présente ? Il doit y avoir de l'espace pour la colère et la lamentation et l'honnêteté. Mais est-ce trop souvent là où l'histoire se termine ? Je suis curieux de savoir ce que tu penses. Il me semble que dans l'église, où il serait incroyablement facile de se concentrer sur le mauvais, le laid et le pécheur, nous sommes plutôt appelés à encadrer tout ce que nous faisons par une vision future, par une imagination eschatologique, par l'espoir. « Voici ce qui arrive », dit Jésus, Paul et Jean. « Alors comment vivrez-vous maintenant ? » Au séminaire, nous avons appris à toujours mettre fin aux sermons sur une note de grâce, à toujours finir avec l'espérance. D'une part parce que cet espoir est la vérité la plus vraie là-bas. Mais je pense aussi parce que les gens répondent mieux à l'espoir qu'à la peur ou à la culpabilité. L'espoir sera toujours le meilleur facteur de motivation. Je pourrais avoir recours à un peu d'espoir maintenant. A propos de beaucoup de choses. Je pourrais utiliser un plan.

Laura de Jong

Laura de Jong serves as pastor of Second Christian Reformed Church in Grand Haven, Michigan.

16 Comments

  • Joan Bouwma says:

    How I agreed with you! I always do better with a plan as it gives me something positive to think about, to do, to build on. A plan gives me a sense of control when everything around me seems out of control. A plan gets me through most days. New of the good that is happening in our churches, in our community, in our country, and in the world usually takes a back seat to the stories of violence, chaos, and dysfunction. But God is at work in all of us and we need to recognize and celebrate how he is working out his plan to bring his kingdom to this earth. He has a plan.

  • mstair says:

    Grateful for your reminder of folks yearning for home and family …
    I will offer prayer for resolution.

    Your thoughts brought up this realization … our Government “by the people” currently has nearly half the “government” (45%) with no vaccine and no plans to get one …
    Their plan?

    Resolve nothing, wait for the vindication that it led to damaged DNA, and then celebrate their rightness?
    Watch the other robotic 1/2 half of the country blindly succumb to the compromise of liberty and then delight in their own asymptomatic infection?
    Quietly acquiesce to eventual world-wide realization that – like cancer, there are some diseases that never give way to herd immunity?

    It seems Our Lord has another way …

    “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Phillipians 2)

  • John vanStaalduinen says:

    Since this is a political opinion piece, my comment is: how is the Biden Church working out compared to the Trump Church?

    • Laura de Jong says:

      John,
      This is a political piece only inasmuch as I’m wondering what the role of any political leader is (or any kind of leader for that matter). Nothing is pointed at one specific person. Nor am I trying to conflate politics with the church…simply querying if the same “hope framework” that exists in the church could or should carry over into our political conversations, not because our ultimate hope rests in politics, but because hope generally prompts better responses from people than fear.

    • George Vink says:

      John, if, and it’s always an if, if I’m reading your comment correctly, it’s not helpful!

      • John vanStaalduinen says:

        I think you read it correctly, the Biden Church is failing miserable and spreading doom and gloom news Where as the Trump Church was always trying to spread optimistic news. By the way, I learned there was a Trump Church right here on this ‘reformed’ journal blog, very informative.

  • Rodney Haveman says:

    Laura,
    I appreciate this because I am always despereate for a plan, but one thing I’ve learned about myself is I want that plan because it gives me a false sense of control. If we have a plan, then we can control what happens and where we’re going, but what if we’re not in control? What if control is an illusion?
    The second thing I’ve realized is people desire truth over a plan. We can handle what’s happening if you tell us what you know at this time, what you don’t, and how much it could change in the future. In other words, you’re working on it, but you can’t guarantee anything because you’re not in control.
    I also think that this truth requires a consistent integrity. You tell the truth over and over and over again, because when it counts, when people need to trust you with their lives, they will because you’ve been honest with them as much as we can expect or hope.
    Finally, you are 100% right, hope is more powerful than fear or guilt, but hope cannot be a wish or a dream. It must be real, honest, and full of integrity. Only then can hope drive us to a future that we can believe in.
    Thanks

    • Laura de Jong says:

      Thanks Rodney. I’ve been wondering along those same lines – how do we speak in hope without resorting to false optimism. But to your point about truth-telling, what strikes me about the pandemic/vaccine narrative is that there are two ways to tell falsehoods. On the one hand, the seriousness of the pandemic could be and was gravely downplayed. But I think the effectiveness of the vaccine, and the hope that that gives, has been downplayed as well. We’ve tended to focus on the negative side effects or all the unknowns, even as there is overwhelming data that tells a story of incredible success. So how do we measure the truth of the unknown against the truth of the known? Or balance caution with hope?

      • Rodney Haveman says:

        Thanks Laura,
        I agree. In the beginning we (larger culture) undersold the severity of the virus (even as those who were experts told us how severe it could be) and now we undersell the achievement of the vaccine (again, even as the experts tell us how marvelous it is). I wonder why that is. It seems that the first action comes from wishful thinking, maybe from all of us … It won’t come here. It won’t be too long. etc. And then we spent so much time trying to make folks see how serious it was/is, we never turned to the good news or hope that is available to us now with simple action in getting a vaccine. The media doesn’t help (if it bleeds it leads).
        I wonder if we sometimes spend so much time trying to emphasize the seriousness of sin in our church that we struggle to turn to the good news of hope, eschatology, etc.

  • George Vink says:

    Laura,
    As someone who shares particularly the need to have a more open Canadian border, we’ve gone ahead and made plans for a late June “crossing no matter what…..” It gives us a sense of planning, expectation, hope…………even if then it’ll get dashed or delayed. Thanks for your thoughts and felt though that last night’s address to congress injected some hope if we’d get beyond whatever political blindnesses adhering to our observations.

  • RLG says:

    Thanks, Laura, for sharing your hope and desire for a plan. I agree that focusing on the negative is often a downer, although often necessary. But let’s lean toward the positive. As to a plan, we certainly are not at a loss, for a plan. As we saw last night our president has a great plan that the rich will pay for. Let’s ask them. As to the church’s eschatological plans, we have an abundance of them. There’s the a-mill plan, the post mil plan, the historic pre mil plan, the dispensational pre mil plan, the pan mil plan. Just pick one and be happy. It’s too bad the church has a hard time agreeing to the same plan and hope. Maybe that’s why people outside of the church sees the church as such a negative force in our society. What a conundrum for the church.

  • JK says:

    Laura for your thoughts and questions,
    As I look to this, I see 2 things.
    – in the Church, we understand grace, salvation, and look expectantly to perfection in heaven while looking and experiencing God sightings and his presence on this side of eternity. Ending worship in a moment of grace and hope is the best thing we can do to reset, gain strength, and bolster ourselves to the onslaught we will experience as we walk out the doors. Thank you for continuing to do this every week! Yes, this is where our attention and efforts need to stay focused
    – the press and much of our political leadership understand that in the (sinful) world, blood and gore sells. It sells media, it sells fear, and it sells leadership crafting more ways to keep or assume more control, and it sells short term memory via manipulating the emotions and cranking up the drama. For the press, it sells the chaos, and for the political world, too often it sells a replacement savior. They often are their own worst enemies, but they both understand the control aspect and that they need need each other. Our political leaders may have good intentions and will try to sell some optimism, but the reality is the plan is so lofty, we begin to be skeptical from the start and easily dismiss or forget the priorities laid out.

    In short, it is a power struggle – within ourselves and within our institutions – but it isn’t really about us.

    I realize that this may not be super helpful on the surface, but I have found that I too was exasperated until I began to understand it for what it is and not put added credence into it. My education was in Political Science and Economics. I used to get super charged about the theory, and the rhetoric. It took God rocking my world to get me to surrender and let it all go. (One of my daughters went 2 rounds with cancer before 12 years old. She grown and married now – in good health, but the lessons learned as a Dad haven’t dimmed.)

    I don’t have a plan for you specifically. But if helpful, this has become my plan. As I age, it has become more about observation and letting go. I find that as participate in what God has called me to and watch, I marvel more at God’s grace in my life and also the Devil’s desperate battle plans. The war being waged in front of us and in us, is truly epic and so far beyond us! It is most easily seen in our press, politics and sadly – too often in our churches. To keep from being consumed by these institutions, I find I must focus more on gratitude for what is immediately in front of me, followed immediately by finding more ways to show dignity to those around me. This has not been easy.
    Don’t get me wrong, I still have ideals and preferred outcomes. I am not pessimistic, throwing in the towel or slowing my political involvement. But for inner peace, I have found that I can look only to the evidence of God transforming me, his work with his Church and people, and focus less on our institutions – for none satisfy. It is a matter of letting it go and watching God work. I may not always get it at the time, but I am willing to let it go, and thus, in time be good with it.

  • Gerrit Van Dyke says:

    I am bothered by fact that there so many people who will not get vaccinated for various reasons including that they think the whole thing is a hoax. How can a government plan when dealing with irrational behavior. Both presidents worked to get us all vaccinated but somehow haven’t reached a lot of people on the necessity of that. The wrench in the works is that every new case of CoVid-19 is another chance for a mutation that is immune to the vaccine. The CDC does not want that to happen so we need to start all over.

  • Paul DeVries says:

    Thanks Laura, great article. I particularly like the lines, “And Moses looks at them. And shrugs. And the people don’t like that.” I feel like I do a lot of shrugging these days. If God had a plan for Moses and his ancient people, I guess he must have a plan for me and the church today too.

    I am going to share portions of your article with my Council tonight.

    Thanks.

    Paul DeVries

    BTW, when you finally get a plan, please share it. To quote a wise woman, “I could use a plan.”

  • Daniel Meeter says:

    Laura, I don’t know what to think about this post. On the one hand, Biden has been attempting to present a vision, a plan, and hope. And many people are responding. I may add that people responded to Trump because he too presented a vision and hope, (of a sort I did not like) though only the rudiments of a plan. I think Hillary Clinton failed to present any of them, and I don’t expect any from Justin Trudeau. But my church experience has made me very wary of “visionary leaders”. They have done my denomination very little good. Maybe it was very good that Moses had no plan. (By the way, let me recommend Zora Neale Hurston’s flawed but excellent book, Moses Man of the Mountain.)

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