Well, what a week! By now, COVID-19 has impacted us all in some form or fashion. While news of the outbreak began in late 2019, March ushered in reporting of a global pandemic, and within about seven days, it feels like we went from zero to 60 on our response. Suddenly, my social media feeds are filled with everything from conspiracy theories and hysterical rants to handwashing techniques, corporate reassurances and closures of all kinds.
As we’re being encouraged to practice “social distancing” and self-quarantine to help “flatten the curve,” it all feels a bit other-worldly to me. When my husband and I went to the grocery store this weekend — you know, for actual groceries that we needed and planned to use this week — we were shocked by the rows and rows of empty shelves. I’m sure many of you experienced the same. I don’t wish to diminish the potential severity of the virus itself, but I find myself a bit shocked by the crazy it has produced.
I’m no expert, so I’ll admit there is much I don’t know or understand about this particular virus. I also understand that many of the recommended countermeasures, which seem extreme, are intended to limit its spread. However, this post is about none of those things. By all means, please wash your hands and take proactive measures to ensure wellness for yourself and those around you.
However, as a faith community, I hope we can find ways to share faith over fear and focus on this:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV).
Three Things to Consider Amid Fears
For many, it’s hard not to become wrapped in fear, particularly over things outside our control. Yet, God reminds His followers to “Fear not,” 365 times! Yep, that’s one reminder for each day of the year. As believers, we’re not immune to fears or worry, but we have choices about how we handle them. So in light of the current unrest and uncertainty, here are three things to consider:
1. God is Greater Than __________ .
Literally, just fill in the blank. Whatever scares you, God can overcome. Today, it might be the coronavirus, but tomorrow, it easily could be something else. One of my favorite sayings from Dr. Jim Denison is that “God redeems all that he allows.” Sometimes we can’t see or understand how a circumstance is being used for His glory, but I find peace in remembering that God still reigns, and nothing escapes His attention or care.
God knows we have fears; He knows we struggle. As the verse below suggests, fear is not an “if” but a “when.” While the coronavirus might not be causing you alarm, something else is or will be, and God, in His perfection, provides us word upon word of truth to overcome any fears we face.
COVID-19 or not, the days ahead are uncertain. To a watching world, how believers react to inconveniences, possible illness, ensuing hysteria and stress matters. Exhibiting faith over fear or peace in place of panic might just be an opportunity to point others to Christ. Because while I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, I know God is in control and greater than it all.
2. Don’t Overlook the Blessings
Let’s see…over the last week, we’ve seen the financial markets continue to plummet; schools and universities cancel classes and events; businesses temporarily shutter their stores, churches move to online-only services, and pandemonium surrounding toilet paper and grocery staples. With all that, it is easy to get mired down in the doom and gloom.
In Matthew 6:27, 34, Jesus tells us, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life…Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” So I’m going to choose to take each day as it comes. Just as nothing escapes God’s attention, His plan for my life, and yours, is complete (Psalm 139), and fretting over circumstances beyond our control proves fruitless.
If nothing else, consider the blessing that technology brings at this time. Businesses that are closing their physical locations can remain open online. Employers can utilize technology for work-from-home options. Online classes and educational opportunities will help students continue learning, and FaceTime can help you feel “present” when you’re far away. Consider this same scenario 40+ years ago and how different the impact.
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have had to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
Let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
3. Remember the Children
It’s important not to overlook the impact of our words and actions on the children in our care. While swine flu perhaps provided a similar snippet, what we are experiencing now is uncharted waters for us. Waking up each day to additional business closures and new cautionary measures for interaction feels surreal to me.
Whether you view the response to the coronavirus as unwarranted chaos or appropriate intervention, your children and/or grandchildren are looking to you for clues on how to understand and process this shifting landscape. Fear and anxiety are powerful emotions, and they have a trickle-down effect that will be felt throughout your household. Although my children no longer live at home, I imagine my reaction still impacts them to a certain degree and either puts them at ease or on edge.
As with all things, this, too, shall pass. Until then, let’s help point our friends and family to the One who offers us peace in the midst of life’s storms.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9, ESV