This seems to be the buzzword for this period of social distancing, self-quarantining, and isolation due to the disease known as COVID-19. Companies allowing and encouraging working from home, restaurants with no eating in but offering to-go (and some with FREE delivery!), beaches closed during spring break, and schools going online only. And of course, layoffs, falling stock prices, lower interest rates, and finger-pointing.
I tried finding humor in quotes from newspapers during the 1918-19 flu epidemic, such as these:
“Esthetically, of course, hand-shaking is ridiculous. Practically, it is a waste of time and energy. Hygienically, it is little short of being murderous. A clean man goes forth in the morning, only to return in the evening reeking with germs of all descriptions, most of which he has acquired from the friends whom he has met in and out of his shop, store or office. The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY, Nov. 7, 1919
“Cover up each cough and sneeze. If you don’t you’ll spread disease.” –The Public Ledger, Maysville, KY, Oct. 10, 1918
I smiled at the way writers worded their advice back then (and I hope you do, too). But as I scrolled through the old newspapers and saw the numerous reports of deaths due to influenza, I realized it was not helping my mood. So I’ll limit my “tidbits from history.”
Instead, I want to be the bearer of hope and faith, not fear. In my Bible reading this morning, I came across this passage:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear … for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6, ESV). The Israelites were preparing to go into Canaan to take possession of the land God had promised them. They had wandered in the wilderness for forty years because of their initial fear, but the time had come to act in faith. Moses would not be going with them, so he spoke to them, reminding them how God had led them out of Egypt and what God had commanded. He emphasized the importance of trusting in God by repeating in verse 8: “He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
The promise that God will be with you was not just for the Israelites at that time, but for those who love the Lord throughout all time.
I can honestly say I’m not afraid of this virus or of the hit the economy will take, because I know God is in control. He is not surprised by what’s happening. I pray He will use this pandemic to draw people closer to Him.
That’s not to say I’m not concerned and cautious. But it’s easy to focus more on our circumstances–isolation, cancelled events, difficult travel (if any), other inconveniences and disappointment–than on our Comforter. It’s easy to spend more time reading social media than scripture. And that’s when we can get anxious, fearful, and depressed.
So my intention is to limit the amount of time I spend focused on the news and increase the time I spend focused on the Good News that Jesus cares. Let’s dispel fear and increase our faith. Will you join me?