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parents struggling to balance work and homeschooling, while   the first to enter Rwanda. In the three years of our trauma
          under the stress and fear of losing their jobs; millions feeling   counseling program, we often faced the “why” question as
          the isolation of the lockdown and the anxiety that there is   we all tried to understand the genocide where in 100 days,
          no cure in view as yet. “How long?” we wonder. Covid-19 is   800,000 people were killed with machetes and rifles. In one
          not the only crisis. Many countries are spiraling downwards   of our meetings, a young woman asked, “Where was God
          economically, not only due to the pandemic, but also from   when my whole family and villagers died?” As the room
          corrupt leadership and self-centered political conniving,   rang with the silence that followed, an elderly man named
          leaving many wondering, “What next?”                     Bizimungu, translated “God sees me,” stood up and said,
                                                                   “I too have struggled for many days with that question. I
          Psychosocial impact of Covid-19                          have come to realize that God was always there—in each
                                                                   of our villages and situations, holding us and weeping with
          Traumatic incidents come suddenly and leave a trail of fear,   us.” Bizimungu’s words echoed African perspectives on
          death, and destruction. Covid-19 is a global pandemic that   theodicy—a theological perspective that tries to affirm divine
          threatens life and creates much uncertainty. The result is   justice despite the suffering in the world, suffering that so
          panic, fear, isolation, anxiety, stigmatization, “coronaphobia,”   often seems arbitrary and gratuitous. The word “theodicy” was
          hoarding and anger.  The impact is an escalation of mental   coined by the German philosopher Leibniz, and is based on
          health challenges and social breakdown, especially among   two Greek words, theos or “God” and dike or “justice.”
          the mentally and psychologically vulnerable—the poor,
          jobless, mentally-ill, depressed, and anyone already living with   In times of suffering and trauma during this Covid-19
          domestic violence and abuse.                             pandemic, God is with us as we mourn the departed and
                                                                   protect ourselves from the virus.
 Building Hope and Resilience   Lockdown and quarantine have limited the freedom to   Self-care and other care in crisis

          socialize and curtailed social supportive networks, including
 Amidst Covid-19  church life. Helplessness, hopelessness, and isolation amplify   Biblical lament
          mental health and trauma challenges.  As some battle denial
          and anger, others are stressed and anxious facing massive job   In times of peril, since we know that God is with us, we can
 Lament, communities of care, and the new normal  losses as mega companies and industries collapse. A recent   practice the discipline of lament. In the book of Psalms, David
          meta-analysis of up to 36 heterogeneous studies covering   teaches us the secret of lament. For example, in Psalms 41 and
 BY DR. GLADYS MWITI   a population of 117,044 on Covid-19 mental health impact   42, we learn to openly pour our hearts to God who does not
 Langham Scholar, Kenya  indicates the prevalence of 29.6 percent stress, 31.9 percent    frown at our thoughts and does not expect a nicely packaged
          anxiety, and 33.7 percent depression. The current concern is   prayer from his hurting and confused children. When we
          that as nations concentrate on controlling the spread of the   know that God is with us, sees the storm we are in, and
 PHOTO: Pastors and lay    Like a mighty storm, Covid-19 has left the world reeling and rocking with the very   virus and medical treatment for the infected, mental health
 leaders in South Africa study   foundations of “normal” shaken. We shall never be the same again as we learn that   needs are not receiving the required urgency.  knows our pain, we can approach him with our tears, fears,
 and practice teaching God’s   pandemics are no respecter of persons—the royal or lowly, rich or poor, the aged   and doubts. Lamenting in God’s presence is the beginning of
 Word together.  or babes. We have been equalized—white, black, and colored, Asian, European, and   Disorientation in times of trauma  spiritual self-care in times of crisis. This spiritual discipline goes
 African. We have seen the underbelly of powerful nations and been reminded that   hand-in-hand with practicing the disciplines of prayer, Bible
                                                                   reading, and worship.
 we all are equal before our Creator God. We all cry with the same tears, our hearts   In my book Christian Counseling, I discuss the reality of
 are broken in the same way, and our worries and fears are as palpable as those near   disorientation in times of trauma—where, in a world that was   The practice of self-care and other care
 and far.  orderly and predictable, things suddenly became disordered

          and erratic.  At such times, many are asking questions such as:   Other practices of self-care involve physical care—sleeping
 As nations face over 90 million Covid-19 infections (as of mid-January ’21) and   “Why has this happened?” and  “Why me?”   well, exercise, drinking much water, eating balanced meals—
 the greatest economic recession, the whole world continues to grapple with   and mental care. Taking care of the mind involves adapting
 traumatic disruptions—increasing Covid-19 deaths; tweets of health workers   Soon after the Rwanda genocide of 1994, our Oasis Africa   ourselves to the new reality, especially managing isolation
 holding hands of dying patients as they pass on far away from family and friends;   team of professional trauma psychologists were among   with thanksgiving for the simple joys that brighten our lives—

 8  CULTIVATE                                                                                     9
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