Steve was supposed to be leaving early next week for some meetings at the UN and then on to visit churches involved with Reach Beyond. But, because of the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19), his trip has been postponed.
You, like us, have probably been watching the news and seeing the shelves in the stores empty. You’ve probably cracked a few jokes wondering what on earth toilet paper has to do with the coronavirus. I know we have. But underlying all the jokes and funny memes flying around the internet it’s possible there’s a thread of fear. Certainly, for most of the population, that’s true.
In these uncertain days, how do we as believers navigate? How do we live by faith, wisdom, and love without downplaying the fears of others? How do we navigate the uncertainty?
I love the way the Apostle Peter writes in his first letter to the church during uncertain times: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power” (I Peter 1:3-5). We have an imperishable hope and our faith is shielded by God’s triumphant power! Wow! It doesn’t get any better than that. So how should this imperishable hope govern the way we live amidst a culture that right now is gripped with fear?
Here are just a few ideas:
Don’t give anxiety the upper hand in your thinking. Anxiety can be a natural response when facing a pandemic. Instead, choose to take charge of your thoughts. Direct your thinking towards scripture. Perhaps spend some time memorizing passages like Psalm 91, Psalm 46, Isaiah 41:10 or Philippians 4:4-9. I’ve written this before, but it bears repeating – turn your panic into praise! Whenever you feel anxious, start praising God for all of His amazing attributes and you’ll find that peace will flood your mind.
Take a prayer walk around your neighborhood. If you feel anxious, just imagine how your neighbors might be feeling. Pray for peace and calm to rule over your neighborhood. Pray for protection from the virus for your neighbors. When you see your neighbors out and about, check in with them and ask them how they’re doing. Offer to pray with those who feel anxious. Call your friends and neighbors who are elderly and see how they’re coping.
Pray for the hospitals in your region. Pray for all the medical professionals and for those with family members who have been hospitalized.
Many schools are closing. Reach out to the parents who might be missing work because they don’t have childcare. You don’t have to physically take children in but you might call and ask how they’re coping. If you know of a family who gets free breakfast or lunch at school, these families might be in a panic – wondering how they will feed their children. Perhaps you could drop a basket of food and snacks at their doorstep. Ask God how to best minister to your neighbors. He will show you.
Pray for revival, not just here in the states, but around the globe. Friend, this is not the time to shrink away from your faith! Instead, rise up with mighty prayers. Pray for those in refugee camps who are trapped. Pray for governments around the world to have wisdom and to turn their hearts towards God. Pray for your family members, friends, and neighbors to turn their hearts towards God. Fear can propel us to run from God or towards God. Pray that many will turn towards God. As you watch the news, turn your heart to pray for revival.
Friend, I’m praying for you. I’m praying that the God of peace will fill you and keep your hearts overflowing with thankfulness. In these days of uncertainty, may you know the God of hope holds you close – and at the same time calls you to minister to others. May you love well and show the love of Christ in all that you do!