Hard to believe how much I aged in just seven days, ain’t it? I kid, of course, but if you’re like me, you are no doubt still reeling from the rollercoaster ride we’ve been on. It seems with every new bit of news each aspect of day-to-day life has been affected. And just as well all have noses, we all have opinions on coronavirus, quarantine, cancellations, and the like.
A few weeks ago, when COVID-19 was on the other side of the world, far away from the Great Plains, I posted a graphic touting the differences between the seasonal flu and the novel coronavirus. What’s the big deal, I thought? The flu is way worse, right?
Well…I’ve since deleted that post, and I’ll tell you why: I was looking at it from how it could affect me and my little tribe, all young-ish and healthy. However, my eyes and mind were opened after interactions with a couple of friends (one family here in OK, one in NC), and I began to think differently. This disease, if taken lightly, could be catastrophic for them, and for many others. And they’re not alone: the less fortunate, the homeless, the poor, those already ill. Shoot, I wasn’t even thinking of my parents and in-laws, not until this showed up on our shores.
Funny how proximity will make you sit up and take notice, eh?
The last few days I’ve thought about it, tried to process it, talked with my wife and kids about it, and listened to people I trust wrestle with it. I figured I’d share a couple things I hope will be an encouragement regarding the current state of things.
In no particular order:
- Stop making it political. Look, even if it is political at a high level, to your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, the political angle doesn’t really matter. What does matter is how this disease and the response to it is affecting their lives right now. Today. I don’t know of any of us who aren’t affected at some level, and for some it’s not just an inconvenience. Income is at stake. Health and well-being at risk. S before you post something snarky or pithy please take a moment and consider these folks. Instead of making a joke about bare shelves and socialism, how about reaching out to your neighbor who may desperately need groceries? How about instead of checking your social media scroll you go check on the elderly couple next door? The truth is, at this point, the reasons behind all this don’t matter. What does is how we respond, how we care for those around us.
- If you’re a follower of Jesus, regardless of your eschatology (your view of the end times) please, please, please don’t make light of this crisis by saying “we about to get outta here!” or some other pithy comment. Look, I believe Jesus is coming back to usher in His kingdom, and maybe it will be soon, but regardless of what’s going on in the world around us, we are called to BE the body of Christ, to BE Jesus’ hands and feet, to BE the church to the world around us. Instead of looking up, look around. Instead of standing with our eyes on the clouds, focus them on your city and see where the needs are, and strive to meet them. Be generous. Don’t be a hoarder. Think of others first. Be like Jesus.
- If you aren’t afraid, that’s awesome. Again, to the Christian, you aren’t to be fearful, but to walk in the peace of Christ towards those around you. We’re not to be anxious for anything, but to let the peace which passes understanding guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. That being said, the reason those admonitions are in Scripture, the reason we’re given those reminders, is because people DO get anxious! People are afraid! I’m grateful to our church and how they’ve reminded us this week, over and over, to be people of peace in the midst of this unprecedented (at least in most of our lifetimes) situation. I need that reminder. I’m sure you do too. And when you meet someone who’s upset or anxious, don’t chastise them. Don’t throw Scripture at them in a heavy-handed way. Instead, love them. Find out what their needs are. Care for their soul and for their physical needs, and as you do in a non-anxious way, hopefully you bring a bit of peace to their lives as well.
- Be wise. Look, maybe you’re young, healthy, fearless. Maybe you have the immune system of a cyborg. Good for you. Just don’t flaunt it in the face of those who do not. Be considerate. Be loving. Be kind. If your leaders (whether government, church, work) are saying stay home, then stay home! Protect not just yourself but those around you. It appears the buzzwords “social distancing” and “hand washing” are truly the best things to stem the tide of this virus, so how ’bout we do them?
- Take time to take stock. We live in a hectic society, to say the least. Our lives are busy and full week-in and week-out. We’ve all been given the gift of downtime of some kind or another. Use it well. Talk to your family, if you’re fortunate enough to have them at home. Have a conversation. Read a book. Think about your life. What things would you like to see change? Where are you struggling? What part of you is raging against this slow down most? What are you turning to in order to cope with the stress (this is no small task). Don’t waste these moments. Life will eventually speed back up. Prepare yourself for it now.
- Don’t forget this isn’t just affecting you and your family. This is being felt in every corner of the world. This one hit me today as one of our pastors called us to pray for Italy, for France, for China…this virus has rattled society no matter what part of the globe you live in. As a follower of Jesus, I need to remember those folks, too. Pray for men and women around the country and the world who might not be in as good a situation as you.
- For each and every one of us, our world just got WAY smaller. Regular events cancelled, schools closed, working from home, trying to find necessities, etc. While we are practicing our social distancing (something many of us were good at long before COVID-19 landed in America), remember it doesn’t mean isolation. As we pull back from contact, as our lives are simplified for a time, as we lose the face-to-face interaction, let’s use the technology we’ve been graced with to reach out to one another, check in and keep each other connected! Instead of using it for political memes or pot-shots, use it to your encourage and care for one another. I’ve already seen some beautiful examples of this in our own community group, and it makes my heart swell.
I hope this blows over soon. I hope we can all resume our normal lives: school, work, church, shopping, sports. I hope our church is able to launch a new congregation in our city. I hope my niece gets to walk the stage when she graduates college. I hope my nephew gets to do the same for finishing High School. And I hope the Carolina Hurricanes get a chance at chasing the Stanley Cup again. Regardless of what tomorrow holds, lets make today count. Be smart. Be kind. Be loving.