Updated: Jun 1, 2020
Being under the cloud of coronavirus disease and the subsequent isolation created by mitigation planning can lead to sadness and depression for some. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times reports, “Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming, and cause strong emotions in children and adults” (Lazarus, D. 3.17.2020). All of us have had a day or two when we feel less than normal. When accompanied with physical ailments we might say we are feeling “Under the Weather” as we call in sick for work or to get out of an event we would like to avoid. The current state of the world is such that many people are struggling under the cloud of darkness that is the coronavirus pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic is a truly a world changing and life-threatening disease, however for some individuals the cloud is more problematic than the disease itself.
This coronavirus feeling is similar to what is experienced by those who struggle with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and their loved ones. The loved ones have seen the effects of SAD on the sufferer and the family. The term “under the weather” can bring up images that are all too clear and familiar. For SAD suffers and their families the dark cloud of winter can bring fear and tears to the family if they have not prepared for the weight of the winter clouds and the darkness. For those who suffer with SAD, being prepared, having a plan and following the plan can change the desperation of living under the bondage of depression due to the heavy darkness into feelings of freedom and peace. For SAD sufferers there are remedies that reduce the effects of SAD or being “under the weather”. The Mayo Clinic reports that one helpful approach is psychological counseling and another is “Light therapy boxes…also known as light boxes, bright light therapy boxes and phototherapy boxes” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2016). Light therapy lightens the weight of the heavy clouds and therefore lightens the burden on the person affected by SAD.
“Under the Weather” is a modern term, possible from the 1800s, that most of us are familiar with. According to the Farmers’ Almanac the term may have originated with sailors on the sea,
“On the high seas when the wind would start to blow hard and the water became rough, crewmen and travelers would go below deck and down to their cabins in order to ride out the storm and avoid becoming seasick. In this way they literally retreat to a location “under the weather.” (Higgins, 2015).
The picture of rough and tough sailors hiding below deck to avoid the storm creates a visual metaphor for the current state of our country. For some the idea of hiding does not fit their personal values or personal fortitude. But, for many the hunkering down and hiding in the storm shelter is strong feeling and sometimes overwhelming. We are all affected in different degrees by the coronavirus pandemic cloud. It’s not so much the size or shape of the cloud covering as it is how we interpret that cloud. In 1967 Joni Mitchell put forth the same thought when she sang, “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now” (Mitchell, J. 1967). We must learn to find the joy for life and vibrancy of our humanity during such clouds to avoid feeling under the weather. As with most life situations, attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.
The coronavirus pandemic effect is like a large cloud covering the world. It reminds me of an old science fiction movie scene. You know the one where the giant space ship hovers over New York, Washington DC or LA casting a shadow for hundreds of miles. Even though nothing has exploded and no Martians have landed the feeling of impending doom is overwhelmingly present. Independence Day (1996) developed the feeling of impending doom well. Creating the necessary imbalance of power needed to set up the dramatic “miracle” underdog victory. According to Gustaf Molin (IMDb) the movie ends with the overmatched humans finding a way to survive, “The survivors devise a plan to fight back against the enslaving aliens, and July 4th becomes the day humanity will fight for its freedom.” The impending doom theme is required in sci-fi thrillers to promote the “almost defeated – return to victory” climax.
The sci-fi future and the currant coronavirus pandemic both reflect recurrent truths of human history. Perhaps the earliest record of a group of people suppressed and almost defeated returning to victory is the story of the Jews and particularly in book of Exodus. Moses came back to ask Pharaoh to let his people go (Exodus 9). From there the Israelites began their long 40-year journey. Many times, they became discouraged and even looked back on Egypt as the land of plenty, “There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted” (Exodus 16:3).
Yes, the history of the Israelites repeats often the theme of impending doom leading to a vicarious climax. In this part of the Israelites history, they were afraid of Pharaoh and his army. They even lost faith in Moses and their God. The cloud of fear hovered over them as they coward under the weather. But God had a plan to save them, a plan to guide them, a plan to increase their hope, their faith, and their reliance on God’s protection. He gave them a fire and a new cloud, a cloud of protection,
“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people (Exodus 13; 21 & 22).
This God given cloud creates a covering that can protect the Israelites from the dark cloud of Pharaoh, the desert heat and from the darkness in their own minds. Many of us walk under a cloud of doom and despair. During this time of the coronavirus pandemic our doom cloud can increase and weigh heavy on our hearts and minds. With God we can turn this around, with encouragement we can help others turn their dark cloud around. Unlike the coronavirus cloud, God’s cloud is a comforting covering. Matthew Henry in his Bible Commentary writes,
“The children of Israel were baptized unto Moses in this cloud, which, some think, distilled dew upon them, 1 Co. 10:2. By coming under this cloud, they signified their putting themselves under the divine guidance and command by the ministry of Moses. Protection draws allegiance; this cloud was the badge of God’s protection, and so became the bond of their allegiance…2. Some make this cloud a type of Christ. The cloud of his human nature was a veil to the light and fire of his divine nature; we find him (Rev. 10:1) clothed with a cloud, and his feet as pillars of fire. Christ is our way, the light of our way and the guide of it. 3. It signified the special guidance and protection which the church of Christ is under in this world.” (1706)
The coronavirus is a worthy appointment that is strong, relentless and cunning. The coronavirus can seem like a Goliath, one we cannot defeat as the legend of coronavirus seems to be growing in strength daily. In fact, Yasemin Splakoglu writing in Live Science states, “the coronavirus mutates into two strains with the L strain leading to more severe disease” (March 6, 2020). But at the same time the coronavirus is gaining strength inside its host body, we too can gain strength as the Lord increases His power inside the bodies of his children. Like David against Goliath (1 Samuel 17) with God each one of us can defeat our personal Goliath cloud. His power is our strength as stated in 2 Peter 1:3-4
“as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (NKJ).
Knowing what to do in difficult situations can go a long way toward mitigating the mental and emotional damage of ourselves, our friends and loved ones. If we can turn the coronavirus cloud around and look at the other side, we can find God’s comforting covering. Giving words of encouragement, hope, and love can help others turn the cloud of doom the cloud of coronavirus into a cloud of hope, protection and love.
I encourage everyone to come out from hiding under the weather and pull down the cloud of doom to replace it with the cloud of joy, peace and protection. Grab onto the warm loving protective cloud of Jesus pull it up closely and wrap it around you as a calming comforter. When the heavy cloud seems to be pushing down hard. When you feel down and defeated or notice others struggling with the pressure coming from all sides, remember attitude is a little thing that can make a big difference. Take a new look at your cloud from a different side and recognize God’s love and provision in His comforting cloud that protects and directs your path. If we all use this picture to comfort ourselves and others then perhaps, we will gain knowledge, courage and understanding. Then we will be able to be free from living under the weather.
Henry, M. (1706). Matthew Henry commentary on the whole Bible (complete) (Vol. 1) (Exodus 13). Mclean, VA MacDonald Publishing Company, 1985.
Higgins, S. (2015). Farmers’ Almanac Online. Where Did The Term “Under The Weather” Come From? 9/28/2015. Retrieved from the world wide web at: http://www.farmersalmanac.com/where-did-the-term-under-the-weather-come-from-21566
Lazarus, D. (2020). Felling depressed? You’re not alone-and you may want to seek help. Los Angeles Times. March 17, 2020. Retrieved from the www at:https://www.latimes.com/ business/story/2020-03-17/column-coronavirus-depression
Mayo Staff. (2016). Mayo Clinic Online. Seasonal affective disorder treatment: Choosing a light therapy box. Retrieved from www at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/disease-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/in-depth/seasonal-affective-disorder-treatment/art-20048298
Molin G. (1996). Internet Movie Database. Independence Day. firstname.lastname@example.org. Retrieved from: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116629/Splakoglu, Y. (March 6, 2020). Live Science. 9 LeGrand Blvd Greenville South Carolina 29607. Retrieved from www at: https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-mutations.html
Splakoglu, Y. (March 6, 2020). Live Science. 9 LeGrand Blvd Greenville South Carolina 29607. Retrieved from www at:https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-mutations.html