Who is Essential?

The physical affects of COVID are well documented. We all know what symptoms to look out for, as well as the severe condition it can cause as it puts people in hospital beds for weeks while a machine breathes for them. The mental and emotional effects, on the other hand, are going to reveal themselves for months and years to come. You can only tell people to be afraid of everyone for so long until it does irreparable damage to their psyche. Something that has not been a prevalent conversation is the one revolving around those who were deemed as “essential.”

The phrase “essential workers” was one many people had never used, thought about, or considered. At least not in the way that it has been used within the past year. At the height of lock downs and restrictions, certain jobs were deemed to be “essential” to the infrastructure of society. These people could continue working with their new status in society. But, if there are essential workers, then there are also those deemed non-essential, many who were not allowed to work, furloughed, laid off, who found themselves without a job simply because they were not vital. 

We all like to think we are important. I have noticed more than in the past people are fighting for validation in their work. There are appreciation posts, days, months, weeks for employees of various professions, all seeking the validation they desire. I get it. We all want to be valued, appreciated, and seen as essential. The church has some work cut out for them; it now needs to minister to people who have been deemed non-essential. Sure, maybe it is nothing and there is no real hurt or pain from this moment in time. Maybe I am being oversensitive to this matter. Yet, I can imagine being called non-essential comes with some sting, even if it is miniscule. 

There is a deep longing for people to make a difference, at least this is true among millennials. I am sure there is a desire for many people to be wanted, valued, and to be affirmed that what they are doing matters. Of course, we want that. Then, there are those deemed as essential and non-essential. It could make a person wonder if their life’s work is futile. What is the point of anything? For some it could be enough to thrust them into a spiral of existential dread. Is there more to life? Does anything matter? Does the monotony of the day to day make any difference in the world? For you, dear Christian, the answer is yes. 

No matter where you are, no matter your different stations. Whether you are a father or mother, son or daughter, brother or sister, friend, teacher, CEO, cook, custodian, or bartender. You have been put into that place by God do diligently do your work joyfully. You are essential. Regardless of what the government says, each person is essential to upholding the structure and order of creation. The work you do is holy work. Flipping burgers is holy work. Scrubbing toilets is holy work. Editing an excel document is holy work. Changing diapers is a holy work. Getting brunch with grandma is holy work. Even resting is a holy work. All you need is the eyes to see it, that God has placed you into these vocations, these stations where you have been placed to love and care for you neighbor. These are the places where you show the love of Christ. 

The world needs Christian doctors, CEO’s, cooks, teachers, mechanics, and every other profession, station, and relationship. The world is better off when Christians act like Christians. For when you fulfill your vocations and do them joyfully, you are a representative of Christ in that place. You are the hands and feet of Jesus. You are essential, no matter what anyone else says. So wherever you are, whatever you do, dear Christian, do it well. The world is better when you do.