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Voices From the Pandemic: In Palestine, a Time to Renew Faith

Nadine Bitar is a member of the the Youth of Jesus Homeland group, a Christian youth ministry in Palestine.

In March 2020, our social life suddenly stopped, and the world’s superpowers collapsed. We are entering a historical and hard time, they said. Thousands of people will die, and millions will be sick. What are you all talking about? Is it a war? Yes, but it is a different kind of a war; our enemy cannot be seen! Lord, have mercy on us! What is it?! It is a tiny virus that our human eye cannot see. Within days, our world changed. Our humanity was threatened, and all our inventions and technology cannot save us.

As a result, many have turned to the Creator for protection. We turned to the Master of this Universe, who knows every bit of this earthly life we have; he knows his creations very well. He is our only hope to cure us from our spiritual illness and physical greed. Personally, I have taken this time to reflect on our Lord’s Passion, as we lived the COVID-19 madness during our Lenten season and Holy Week, leading us to Jesus’ glorious Resurrection. I kept telling myself this is our extended Holy Week.

To be honest, when this chaos started, it was very hard for me to cope with this new lifestyle. COVID-19 had forced the whole world to live in quarantine. No! That is not the time for it, I said.  I was in the midst of preparing for my wedding. What a heartbreaking moment! My fiancé and I prayed about it and prayed for all the couples who were getting married this summer and who already postponed their weddings. We were sure that many couples just like us have been excited and looking forward for their new beginning together. All our plans were changed; there is nothing we could do.

“We need to search for the blessings in the midst of this dark cloud that can bring new life to all of us.”

Nadine Bitar

On the other hand, I feel that I was given the chance to spend more time with my family. The Lord works in mysterious ways. I have considered this time in quarantine to be the Lord’s tool to strengthen my family bond.

The Lord continues to work in the midst of any situation, whether joyful or painful. COVID- 19 has given us a break to reflect on our lives. It is telling us: take the time and reflect on all the small details of our lives — how we have been very busy saying we do not have time, how family is a true treasure.

We have seen many people retuning to God and our homes have turned into churches. The earth is breathing again, and the animals are free. We were blessed with our local priests, who continually kept Masses going. Some liturgies were livestreamed. In my neighborhood, spiritual reflections and hymns were blasting from the speakers on our computers.

There are many positive consequences. People started to care for one another and once again we were proven wrong when we said that humans have become heartless. We were proven wrong when we said humans are far away from God. We were proven wrong when the world’s superpowers thought that they were in control of the universe. This time has proven that no matter what happens, and how powerful we get, there will always be a divine Lord who is more powerful.

Today, we are given the chance to recalculate our lives and reset our priorities. I hope and pray for everyone to realize that our lives after COVID-19 should not be the same as our lives before it. We need to search for the blessings in the midst of this dark cloud that can bring new life to all of us. We need to get rid of all the negative feelings of today — put our past in quarantine and set new goals. It is time to accept the power of the Holy Spirit and to allow him to take control.

Search for the precious treasures in our lives and spend time with those who feel lonely and abandoned. We must be motivated by Jesus; he is the way and the truth, the healer and the protector. As the famous prayer puts it: “Where there is doubt, let me sow faith; Where there is despair, let me sow hope; Where there is sadness, let me sow joy.”

Let us all allow God to use us to be instruments of his peace.

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