As we are seeing our valley hit quite hard with Covid 19 this season, I wanted to give you as leaders some specifics on counseling those who are recovering from this virus.
As people in your small groups and within your realm of influence face this or are caring for family who are contracting the virus, remind them of these basic physical suggestions:
Make yourself do some physical exercise each day to prevent blood clots- even if it is just walking around the house a few times a day.
Load up on zinc and vitamin C—which is what the hospitals give patients who enter with Covid.
Stay hydrated. Since Covid can often unexpectedly cause stomach trouble but the fatigue may keep some from drinking, it is important to be intentional with fluid intake.
The biggest unexpected impact from Covid is the raw emotions that people will face as they are recovering. It is unexpected and often very scary for them to have such strong feelings. You can be a great help to those by practicing some of these things and sharing some encouraging truth with them.
1. Listen. Honestly, sometimes letting them cry it out and get some of their emotions out will go a long way for a person.
2. Calm by Normalizing. “What you are feeling is normal.” This is so important to be said. Most people are alarmed at what they feel and even frightened by it, so just hearing that others experience the same thing after having covid.
3. Explain why they are feeling the way that they are. They don’t realize it because often the symptoms are seemingly more mild, but they extend for days leaving the body to fight extremely hard—much harder than they realize. Remind them of Elijah’s extreme depression after becoming completely run down. The Lord prescribed good food and lots of extra rest for him. We can learn a lot from this.
They’ve experienced virtually no enjoyment for quite a while. It may seem small, but losing the ability to enjoy food, conversation, companionship, and to rest well can leave a person drained and more miserable than they perhaps expected.
They are probably also feeling discouraged because they have lost weeks of being able to accomplish anything. The exhaustion is extreme and energy highly limited during coronavirus, so time invested in family, household chores or maintenance, lingering work projects, and of course our to-do-list for the holidays has been untouched. God gave humans the ability, desire, and pleasure of work. Accomplishing things is more important to our psyche than we often realize.
4. Refute the lies. I’ve dealt with many who experience extreme guilt or regret during these times. Here’s a few common causes and the truth to match it.
“I didn’t believe it was real.” I heard a great explanation for this from a political commentator. He was not speaking in regard to covid, but it was his response to someone questioning why people won’t believe what the media tells them politically. (Hold your horses, we are not getting political here, I promise!) His response holds very true for this matter. People need to recognize that not believing in the severity of this pandemic is a normal response when you live in a society with an untrustworthy media. Not only do we have multiple professional news outlet that have lied repeatedly to the public and who have exaggerated actual news far out of proportion, but we also have social media which is just as unreliable. We’ve been lied to, and it is natural for them to feel uncertain or skeptical when real news is actually reported.
“I took too many risks, I was so foolish.” This one is a bit trickier, but without getting political, remind the individual that unless they completely isolated, they were likely going to contract this virus. That is why it is called a pandemic. This has happened throughout history, but this may be the first time in history that has such a humanistic belief (where we truly believe that mankind has all the answers and can save us) that we begin to assign fault to others and to ourselves.
“I gave it to...” While this one may be true, we also do not know that it is truth most of the time. Once again, this virus is so very contractable, that pinpointing where or who we got it from is practically impossible. If one has been to the grocery store, Walmart, work, or the gas pump, most likely they have come into contact multiple times with carriers. We, once again, must admit our human limitations and stop carrying guilt or assigning blame. We are not the Omniscient One.
5. Give Truth. How we live and view ourselves and others is ultimately based on what we believe about God. This is the moment to lovingly and gently remind others of who He is. Perhaps, some of these thoughts may be helpful to the counselee.
God is in control. Nothing, not even Covid-19, is outside of His realm of authority. If someone passes or lives during this time, as believers we can be certain that He is in control. (Psalm 139:16; Job 14:5-7) Not one breath can be lived beyond His assignment, nor can it be snatched away before He is ready to call us home.
God is always good. It has been encouraging to hear many folks, still overcome with emotion, share about the goodness of God in getting them through this. Let them share, thank them for sharing this testimony with you. Encourage them, when they have more energy, to record their thoughts somewhere to help them remember how God ministered specifically to their hearts during this time. Just recently I read from Answers in Genesis that many viruses are actually helpful. They are part of God’s creation. However, we know that viruses that wreak havoc and bring death are not part of God’s design for humankind. It is the result of sin breaking our planet. Yet even in the midst of our brokenness and tragedy, God is still good. He has this suffering for but a moment and then has the promise of Heaven before us. (Revelation 21:4; John 14:2; I Corinthians 2:9; Revelation 22:1-5)
We also know that His goodness extends to the fact that nothing is wasted in the life of a Christian. God will use even our pain to produce something worthwhile. (Romans 8:28; James 1:2-4)
God will provide. As they face an uncertain future of what they will do without that loved one, without that income, etc. the counselee should be reminded that He has the resources and the knowledge of what they need. It may not be in the way we expected, but He will provide what we need. We can trust Him fully, and take confidence that He wil never leave us and that is our greatest need fulfilled. (Luke 12:7, 24; Matthew 7:11; Philippians 4:6; Psalm 34:10; Hebrews 13:5) And don’t forget to add their prayer request to the church prayer list or small group if they are okay with it being publicly shared.
Southern Hills Church - Las Vegas