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Ouachita Stories


Finding peace in a turbulent world

Observing Advent

An open BibleDecember 08, 2020 - William Viser

It has been a hard year, has it not? Who could possibly have imagined the chaos COVID-19 would bring upon the entire world? No one has been spared. For many the suffering has been unbearable.

I missed so much about Ouachita life – and life in general – this past year.

I missed close fellowship with Ouachita staff and faculty colleagues.

I missed the relationships with students both within the classroom and outside the classroom.

I missed the sweet sound of voices lifted in praise during weekly chapel, as well as the challenging programs.

I missed the yells and cheers as we urged our Tigers to victory in their various athletic endeavors.

What did you miss? Quite a lot, I am sure.

Experts say loneliness has increased in the United States since 1985. Even before COVID-19, nearly 50% of Americans surveyed said that they experienced loneliness. And no one has felt this more keenly than our senior adults.

MD Anderson Center refers to “COVID-19 Blues” as:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Guilt
  • Anger or irritability more than normal
  • Withdrawing from things you used to enjoy
  • Avoiding talking to friends and family
  • Changes in sleep/sleeping too much or not enough
  • Thoughts about harming yourself
  • Changes in appetite or weight (more or less)

Do you see yourself in at least one or more of the above? If so, you are not alone.

As if the above were not bad enough, you throw in the fear and anxiety of contracting the virus, and it just seems overwhelming.

Has there ever been anything quite like it?

The events surrounding the birth of Jesus were not exactly ideal!

The Jewish people had been under Roman oppression for nearly 60 years at Jesus’ birth. The census ordered by Quirinius (Luke 2:1-3) enabled the Roman authorities to find out and record where every person lived, their age and physical traits, their vocation, who was related to whom, all so they could maximize taxation (The Jerusalem Post, 2017). Talk about Big Brother spying on people!

King Herod ordered the slaughter of all baby boys two years or younger (Matthew 2:16). We cannot begin to imagine the grief and the sorrow such an act would bring to the mothers and fathers of those baby boys.

It wasn’t COVID-19, but those times were not easy, either.

So what is the answer to all of the heartache and confusion, the social unrest, the divide between the red states and the blue states?

We draw our attention to the manger where the Prince of Peace lies wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Isaiah 9:6 tells us, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Like Peter walking on the water, we succumb to the fears, the anxieties and the chaos in the world when we take our eyes off Jesus.



Bill ViserBy Dr. Bill Viser, professor of Christian ministries