There’s a lot of “it’s going to be okay” messages going around.
In one sense, there’s truth in it. There have been crises before – of differing natures and time periods than this one, with different repercussions – and the world and its humanity are still here. So it’s very likely we – the communal, global we – will be “okay” in that we continue on.
But that’s not what ‘okay’ really means, to each of us individually. It’s certainly not what it means to me.
To “be okay”, although it’s a fairly broad term, tends to mean everything is more or less working the way it’s meant to.
When you fall down, someone asks “are you okay?” (unless that someone is my friend Megan, who falls about laughing her head off first, and THEN through uncontrolled and continued giggles asks if I’m okay).
They don’t mean, “is everything perfect?”, because nothing ever is, and it definitely won’t be when you’ve fallen or scraped an elbow or a knee, or hit your head. The two options at that point are, is everything really bad, or are only a few little things bad?
And when we say “yea, I’m okay”, we mean, I’ve got a few scratches and my head hurts and I might limp for a day, but it’s not really bad. I haven’t broken my leg, I don’t need to go to hospital, I don’t have a concussion.
So where we’re at now in the world is that everything – the global everything – is very much not okay. I don’t need to describe that for you to know what I mean.
We’re all adjusting to it, and most days I’m feeling like I’m actually sort of okay. I’ve got work to do and a house to live in and walks in the woods nearby and friends who check in on me and technology to connect with my family and online church services and clear running water. The list goes on, endlessly, of the good things.
But the weird juxtaposition most of us are in, is that of being both okay and not okay at the same time.
We’re globally very much not okay (everything is really bad), but personally pretty much okay (only some things affecting me are bad).
And the well meaning advice that “everything is going to be okay” is confusing.
Because I’m thinking, well what does that even mean? More people are going to die, and that’s not okay. More of them will be people I know personally, which feels even more not okay. My nephew has cancer and that’s one of the furthest things from okay I can think of, especially as the end result of cancer is very rarely okay.
Yesterday I read a post by Austin Kleon (whose books I love), and he said “Not everything will be okay (but some things will)”, which I thought was a lot more accurate.
And then my Bible reading today included this verse, from one of my favourite Psalms of them all:
“You who have done great things;
O God, who is like You?
You, who have shown me great and severe troubles,
Shall revive me again,
And bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
You shall increase my greatness,
And comfort me on every side.”
I’ve always liked these verses because they remind me both good and hard things are shown to me by God in my life. He’s done really good, really amazing, really incredible things. He’s also shown me some great and severe troubles – and a few of you on this list know the extent of some of those I haven’t shared.
But here’s the thing. It doesn’t say everything is going to be okay –
– it says comfort is coming.
“Everything” will very much not be okay. For some of us that’s already the case – for others it will be the case in future. The repercussions are long and extensive and may last our whole lives long. They will impact future generations.
But comfort is coming.
Don’t hold out for everything being okay, because you’ll be wildly disappointed, and perhaps already are. But hold out for comfort, because whatever level of ‘okay’ there is or isn’t, we will be seen through it. Comforted.
And with that comfort we will then comfort others. Which feels sort of okay again.