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Keeping it in Perspective

This last week was a little depressing. Watching my social media feeds I saw a number of police officers, firefighters and chaplains get sick or die from the COVID-19 bug. When the numbers finally come out from last year it could be the first year in a number of years that line of duty deaths outnumber suicides due to the bug.

With all that is going on, here are four things to think about.

1. Do not fear. Put death and illness in perspective. Many of our faith traditions have a perspective that are quite different than the "world" on death and illness. For many of us, our faith and understanding of death and illness actually brings us hope in the midst of turmoil. (Romans 6:9)

2. Be smart. Don't unduly put yourself at risk…but do your job. As Martin Luther reminds us, "A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep but the hireling sees the wolf coming and flees” (John 10:11). For when people are dying, they most need a spiritual ministry which strengthens and comforts their consciences by word and sacrament and in faith overcomes death. However, where enough preachers are available in one locality and they agree to encourage the other clergy to leave in order not to expose themselves needlessly to danger, I do not consider such conduct sinful because spiritual services are provided for and because they would have been ready and willing to stay if it had been necessary."

3. Continue to reach out. Be creative. That simple text message of encouragement or email asking how someone is doing will go a long way in times like this. And when you finally get to see each other face-to-face the relationship will be all the better for it.

4. Keep up on your training. In times like these skills go dormant when not used. This is also the time to gain new skills as a professional chaplain. There is no shortage of online classes, webinars and books to read.

When we finally come out of this let us be known as chaplains who spent our time well. May it be that our first responders knew we were there and cared for them due to our unconventional efforts. May we be a source of encouragement instead of stress in times as these. May we have taken the time to put both life and death into proper perspective as educated people of faith. And even though it's not always in our control, may we all come out of this time healthy. And if we do not remain healthy, may it not be because of foolish behavior.

In Him,

Chaplain Chris M. Wade


South Carolina Public Safety Chaplains Association


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