I was not well in January. While in bed, I watched the horrifying footage of Covid 19 in China. It became a subject I perked my ears up to, because it seemed like such a foreign concept. A regional quarantine? Hospitals built in 10 days? People stuck on cruise ships and shopping with masks on in eerily vacant markets?
I never thought some of these things would become a reality in my life.
But here we are. We are on Safer at Home protocol in my state. My kids are watching their teachers on Google Classroom. We haven’t worshipped face to face with our church family in two weeks. I haven’t seen my own family, who lives two blocks away, in several weeks.
There are several temptations during this time. We can complain. We can withdraw from the world around us. We can live in denial. We can swim in fear. It is extremely easy to justify each response, but none of these should be the Christian response.
I can give loads of verses about thankfulness. Wouldn’t that help? I’m not going to though. I’m going to give you context. Paul told Christians to be thankful in everything while sitting under house arrest. That’s right. He was under a quarantine that he could not be freed from. Christ broke bread and gave thanks at the Last Supper, fully aware of where he would be and what anguish would be going through 24 hours later.
Thankfulness is not something that comes naturally to us. We like our personalized comfort and self care. We give a token “shout out” to that God of all comfort who we are supposed to cast our cares onto. We become satisfied that this world is it for us, not remembering that our souls need something more eternal to be satisfied.
So thankfulness. God has a reputation for taking away the comfortable things to remind us about Himself. It isn’t punishment, but a communication. He’s still there. He still can satisfy in ways that all the stuff and events about us cannot. Yes, even all our churchy programs and buildings. Without God, the church means nothing.
Withdrawing is really easy to do right now. It is pretty much a government mandate right? Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and all that. Gather my toilet paper, my Disney+ and one of those giant tubs of cheesy puffs and stay home to keep safe.
I mean, take advantage of this historic moment, by all means. But I am concerned that this time gives us an all too easy excuse to check out of life altogether. Forget about preferring one another and looking out for widows and fatherless.
Oh, you are an introvert? That’s great! It does not give you a pass to ignore the needs of others and hide in your shell for the next two months. You still need others, whether you want to or not. And others still need you. Be there. Make that awkward call. Stay part of the human race. You may need to be more intentional. It may be uncomfortable. But God never calls us to stay in our comfort zone.
Are you the extrovert? I get you. This staying inside away from others is just too… severe. So, you can justify anything as an “essential trip”. Besides, this is just the flu, isn’t it? You are building up herd immunity. You are a gift to mankind, really.
Say that to the mother and six children who just lost a husband and dad to this virus. Tell the nurse in NYC who is completely exhausted and overwhelmed because social distancing in a heavy populace is almost impossible. Tell the teacher who is struggling to adapt curriculum in the hopes that their kids continue to learn something through the rest of this semester.
Our small, collective sacrifice can make a huge difference and save lives. It is easy to discredit something you are personally not experiencing. But Christians, people who follow the example Christ set, are called to have compassion. Empathy. Thinking of others more than self. Putting aside our own needs- whether real or imagined- for the needs of others.
Concern is something we all should have right now. An awareness of danger to ourselves and those about us is a good thing. Fear is a different animal. It is an all consuming obsession with the “what if’s” and worse case scenarios.
I am pretty sure we have heard these verses too- that God has not given us the spirit of fear and fear thou not. But the reality of what fear implies makes those snippets of truth clearer.
Here is the deal: fear implies a lack of trust in God and His sovereignty. Fear is mentally taking control of circumstance because God is not trustworthy to do what is right for you.
I think the key is to remember the second part of God not giving us the spirit of fear- He doesn’t give it to us because He knows it is a tormenting spirit. God is not out to torment your soul. Does He give us difficult and uncomfortable situations? Yup. Does He do things that don’t make sense to us that are outside our control? Yup.
But our Creator has not lost control, and that is what matters. He is still using what seems awful to do a work in us. To draw us closer. To teach us to rest in His control. We must let Him do the work and trust the end result to Him as well. When we do not give our fears an audience, we show God that we trust Him. It’s a good place to be.
So Christian, let’s live in moderation. A balanced approach to this crisis- and all others- will help us to be the light we need to be in a world that is missing the comfort we have in the person of Jesus. This is our moment to show His power to all those who need Him.