Coronavirus

I have felt more emotions in the last week than at any other time in my life. The speed with which the world has shifted regarding the COVID-19 pandemic is mind-boggling.

I have felt fear, frustration, and exhaustion. Almost all of the time during the past week, I’ve felt overwhelmed. Rarely is anyone prepared for life to change so fast for so many with innumerable ramifications. And this is only the first true week (of what will be many more) of response and recovery.

I don’t share this for your pity, because I know that I’m not alone. I share simply out of honesty. It does no good for any of us to put on a mask or pretend to be strong when we are struggling.

Situations like we are facing today remind us how truly inadequate we are. One thing that has been immensely helpful for me in the last week or so has been my journal. I can write my prayers and thoughts before God and know that he hears.

Let me share with you 5 personal responses I wrote down in my journal the other day. They’ve helped me, and I hope they might help you process what we’re going through.

  1. Prioritize my information sources. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been reading and watching the news all the time trying to figure out what’s changing next. If we’re not careful though, our attentiveness to the news will lead to discouragement or worse. I’m not suggesting that you ignore the news either. Rather, make sure that you prioritize the timeless over the temporal. Read God’s Word. Let the assurances and promises and hope of the Bible give you calmness and confidence.
  2. Embrace my lifestyle changes as opportunities. There are no shortages of challenges, frustrations, and discouragements during these unprecedented days. There is much we cannot do, and there are places we cannot go. Instead of looking at all the negatives, embrace the changes as opportunities. We have the opportunity to pause, rest, pray, listen, and slow down. Spend time with your family. Enjoy a game together. Take a walk or a hike. Have long conversations. Read a book. Spend time with God. These moments of pause in the swirl of chaos are a blessing to embrace as much as they are a difficulty to manage.
  3. Accept that I cannot change reality. Read the next statement out loud, “I am not in control.” If the last week does nothing else, it should scream to us that we are not in control. Our busyness, bustling, and constant activity are often attempts at trying to control everything in our lives. We solve this and fix that and put out this fire. Well, this thing we are dealing with his bigger than me, than you, and yes, even bigger than all of us. We should accept our dose of humility and recognize that we are not in control. Only God is in control. To him we must turn.
  4. Pursue the presence of God. Our limitations drive us to One who is unlimited. More than ever before in my life, I realize that I need God. In the story where Jesus walked on water (John 6; Matthew 14), the disciples were rowing hard in the storm only to be frightened at the sight of Jesus walking on the water. Notice this, the disciples were in the storm watching Jesus walk on water because that’s where Jesus had sent them. They were obedient, and they were still afraid. Notice what happened next, “Jesus came to them.” Jesus will be with you in your fears. He will be with you today. Seek him. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8). If we’re going to take seriously the message to wash our hands, we should take serious the reminder to draw near to God. You need him. Pursue him, and he will find you.
  5. Look ahead to the real future. At least for me, part of my worries come from wondering what will happen after we get through this wave. What’s on the other side? What will the socioeconomic impact be? How many will get sick? Will anyone I know and serve become a fatality? Dreading the future is a dangerous worry. But we need to look past COVID-19, past the response, past flattening the curve, past social distancing, past the socioeconomic consequences, past all these things. We need to look to the eternal future. As followers of Jesus, looking to eternity will help us overcome fear in the present. It will also remind us the desperate importance to spread the good news of Jesus to sinners who need repentance. May God help us point people to eternity.

“So we do not lose heart,” Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16. God is with us through it all. I would love to read your feedback at how God is strengthening you during these days. Would you share how God is encouraging you with me? You can leave a comment below. Or you can comment on the social media platform that led you to this post.

The last few days have been surreal. Reactions to COVID-19 have been multifaceted and swift. Declarations of emergency. School closings. Spring sports suspended (children, high school, college, and professional). I could go on, but unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you already know all this.

I’m quite amazed at what has taken place and how fast it has happened. It is easy to be concerned. To watch or read the news is to immerse yourself in a cloud of concern. COVID-19 is extremely contagious. While not necessarily deadly to all who might catch it, its ease of transmission makes it troubling. What is evidently concerning is that the elderly with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable.

The speed of reactions is deeply concerning. The decisions to suspend public gatherings, cancel events, and isolate are aimed at mitigating public exposure to the virus. As Christians, we have an opportunity to reflect a confidence in God in the midst of a challenging situation. Here are 5 things we should remember in the days ahead.

  • While we should be prepared, we should not be afraid. Listen to the normal and wise advice about washing hands or avoiding crowds if you are vulnerable, but don’t give in to fear. Over and over again, God says to his people “Do not be afraid.” Of all the people in our world, Christians don’t have to fear. Throughout history God’s people have faced giants, armies, enemies, and persecutions. And God has always been victorious. God’s people overcome because God is sovereign. If you contract COVID-19, you don’t have to be afraid. If you are in isolation, you don’t have to be afraid (or alone, God promises to be with you). You do not have to fear.
  • While the church should react with regard to services and programs, this situation provides a unique opportunity for the church to be the church rather than just attend church. The ramifications of closings, suspensions, and cancellations will have lasting effects. Some churches may choose not to meet. Here’s a link to what Wilkesboro Baptist is doing this weekend. Churches that do meet may have low attendance. Regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen at church buildings, recovery from this situation will require the church to be the church to others. Being the church means that Christians can bring sanity and calmness to those around us by caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, providing for the financially depressed, or any other number of activities. My prayer is that we as Christians will be faithful and reflect the compassion and glory of God to those around us.
  • While we are right to act, we need to remember that humanity is not sovereign. I’m troubled by our human attempts at containment. And it’s not for the reasons you might think. The 21st century west is quite arrogant. We cannot change the weather. We cannot eradicate illnesses and viruses. We cannot cheat death. We are not sovereign. The Christian worldview does not encourage carelessness or negate preparation. However, the Christian worldview does put disease, illness, and death in context. Our reactions may slow down or stall the spread of the virus in the short term. And if so, the reactions may be worth it. But we cannot stop COVID-19. Indeed, we cannot stop every illness, sickness, disease, and death. Only the Great Physician can truly heal, rescue, and protect. The great lesson of this pandemic might actually be the humbling of our nation and the reminder that only God is sovereign.
  • While we might be isolated, we need to pray for the medical professionals. Many of you reading this will be able to isolate yourselves quite comfortably. Please remember in prayer the doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel who will be testing, caring, and ministering to the sick. They are on the front lines of this situation and need our encouragement and prayer support. Remember, this is new for them as well.
  • While we might be concerned about the future, we must have faith. It may seem callous to some to be concerned about the economic ramifications of our nation’s reaction. Whether callous or not, it is real. People are going to lose their jobs. Industries will slow and shut down. The stock markets will struggle. It already is painful economically and is likely to get worse. But we don’t have to lose faith. Remember the words of Habakkuk as he anticipated God’s judgment and its economic affect 2500 years ago.

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
 God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer’s;
    he makes me tread on my high places.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

So, what should we do?

  1. Be wise. Use common sense. Follow the advice of health professionals.
  2. Be calm. There is a lot of fear mongering and misinformation. Seek the truth. Relax. God is in control. We will come through this.
  3. Pray. Any crisis is a reminder that we must depend on God. Take the time afforded you in the coming days to pause, pray, and seek God. I believe wholeheartedly that God will use this situation to bring us closer to him if we will let him.