Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go- Joshua 1:9 NIV
Corona virus has hit the great state of Washington hard.
At least 642 people are infected with the virus and 40 people have died.
Fear of Corona virus has hit even harder.
Schools have closed for the next six weeks. Some businesses have shut their doors. Churches are meeting exclusively online and it is no simple task finding a gallon of milk or a loaf bread in most grocery stores. When I confessed to my husband I feel a little hemmed-in and stir crazy he laughed at me and reminded me the quarantine hasn’t even really started yet.
The current situation is undeniably scary. Most of us are worried about someone or something. If we aren’t concerned about an older relative, making ends meet with fewer work hours or the balance of our 401K, then we are probably biting our nails about finding childcare or being forced to homeschool our kids.
All that being said.
This situation affords some unique opportunities for Christians to be Christians and the church to be the church. Disasters, pandemics and tragedies have eternal implications and not just because people die. The early church increased in size and influence because Christians were willing to risk their own health and well-being to offer practical help and spiritual guidance during pandemics and other disasters. Early followers of Jesus understood that unbelievers are open to hearing about Jesus when they are fearful for their future. Christians are commanded to be light in dark places (Matthew 5:13-16, Romans 13:12). Little is darker and scarier in this life than a pandemic. No one wants natural disasters, pandemics or tragedies but this crazy virus might just be an opportunity for Christians to have a discernable impact on our own little corner of the world. In order to this we must:
Never forget what life is really about-
Contrary to contemporary belief the Christian life is not about staying safe, living our best life or living forever. The Christian life is about responding in a Christlike way to every situation. It’s about who we become and what we do for Jesus while we are here. Our short lives are insignificant blips on a radar screen in relation to God and eternity. That being said, one really determined human being can do a lot with one life. We can also get a lot done in a bad situation if we don’t allow ourselves to become prisoners to fear.
For the love of God think of others-
It is critical Christians focus on the greater good right now. Do not stockpile toilet paper. Stockpiles of toilet paper are powerless against viruses and your private stockpile might just generate a really weird problem for someone else. Do not horde ANYTHING other people need like toilet paper, disinfectant or distilled water. Hording is selfish, dumb and not what Jesus would do. If you are blessed to have extra of something someone else needs, for the love of all that is decent SHARE it. (Luke 6:38, Matthew 5:42, Matthew 10:8).
Be proactive about your health. Eat right, get enough sleep, wash your hands and keep them away from your face. Try not to not touch surfaces in public spaces. No one can be of use to others if they are sick.
Seriously. Do not be one of those silly chumps gleefully sharing half-truths and fake news on social media. All it does is spread ignorance and panic. For science-y updates check out coronavirus.gov or the Centers for Disease Control. For reliable medical information try Web M.D.
Being brave in situations that breed fear is never easy but neither is it overly complicated. The first step is to pray before acting. This prevents us from doing anything foolish in a blind panic. Then we must choose to move forward with what God wants us to do in spite of any feelings of fear we may have (Matthew 7:12).
The great thing about the time we live in is that most of us have experienced very little uncertainty when it comes to our own health and safety. The flip side of that blessing is its easy to forget that uncertainty is a very real part life in a fallen world. As followers of Jesus we must never allow uncertainty or fear to steal the joy of knowing Jesus and living life (Romans 12:12). Instead we must model what faith looks like for those who have no faith.
Remember whose you are-
If you’re a believer in Jesus you belong to Jesus (Romans 8:28-39, John 10:28). He has written your name on the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16) You have supernatural access to a storehouse of grace that will give you peace no matter what happens (John 16:33,Philippians 4:6-9). You have the power to do anything you need to do in this life (2ndCorinthians 4:7-12, 2nd Corinthians 12:9). As we meditate on these truths we must never forget that the best life is yet to come (John 17:3, John 10:28, Jude 1:21).