For the first time in my life, I grocery shopped amidst masked individuals, barren shelves, carts spilling over with quadruples of everything, and a strange unidentifiable feeling in the pit of my stomach. What was that unsettling emotion and how do I replace it with peace?
Ever since the word "Coronovirus" was first mentioned, I've been cool-headed about the situation. I think it's my type-A, objective personality. However, the stunning effects of the virus are becoming more real each day. We live in a broken world. Illness, pain, suffering, and the unknown are all part of the package here on Earth. It's not until we reach our eternal home in Heaven that we're promised relief. Revelations 21:4 states, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Instead of placing panic upon your heart, put your hope in Jesus. It's the only way to true and lasting peace. John 16:33 assures us: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Prior to this verse, Jesus describes His death and resurrection to His disciples, sharing the seemingly incomprehensible concept that their grief will turn to joy. May I lovingly challenge you to seek out the unexpected joys in this trial?
If I allow doubt in my God to creep in the crevices, I could easily find myself riddled with fear He doesn't want me to possess. I could be afraid for my daughter who has pulmonary complications. I could be worried that military regulations may affect our upcoming move this summer. I could find fear in the military's order across our post for many to self-quarantine. I could find angst in the recent announcement that all schools in my state have been canceled for the remainder of the school year. Yet, the peace of God guards my heart and my mind. Philippians 4:7 says this peace doesn't even make sense as it "transcends all understanding."
Having troubles is a given, as Jesus says, but how we choose to handle those trials is a reflection of our faith. In these bewildering times, we need to trust in our God and be a light to the world. Let's try to find the joy in this unplanned time we get with our families. Embrace all the closures by spending more time in nature. Find excitement in partnering with your children as you attempt to homeschool. Laugh at your failures. Explore new ways to bond with your family. Spend time teaching your children how to serve and pray for others.
In the wake of the unknowns from this virus, I pray you will rest on God's Word and His promises: the promise that He will renew our strength (Isaiah 40:31), that He is with us (Isaiah 41:10), that He will give us wisdom (James 1:5), that He will never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:8), that He has plans to prosper us (Jeremiah 29:11), that He will meet all our needs (Philippians 4:19), and on and on He goes. If fear begins to take hold, get in the Scriptures and remind yourself of His goodness and His plans for your good (something we need to be doing daily, anyway!).
When I think back to my shopping trip this morning, that foreign emotion I was feeling in the grocery store still feels unknown. It was as if my body was absorbing the fears and anxieties of those around me even though I don't personally feel afraid. There were a palpable unease and unspoken, underlying, concealed panic. How, again, could I walk among this Coronavirus craze and not be drawn into fear? One word: Jesus.
For 12 years I have walked with Christ through the fires and floods of my life. I have witnessed His miracles and been comforted in His wings when I cannot understand His workings. Isaiah 43: 1-3 says, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." This is our God. One who shields, redeems, cares, and loves.
As we continue to live life in the midst of this virus, be vigilant and wise, follow the updates and recommendations. But most of all, follow the Lord. Trust in His love for you and meditate on His Word. I leave you with this comfort from Psalm 46:1-3: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging."