All this talk of Coronavirus is making me sick.
As of right now, my home state is in freak-out mode. Michigan’s governor has declared a state of emergency after two people tested positive for Coronavirus. (You read that right – two.) As of this writing, two major state universities have cancelled on-site classes and forced students into a virtual classroom for at least a month.
The toilet paper is flying off the shelves.
Events are being cancelled.
Purell is being hoarded.
On one hand, we can’t ignore a disease that puts the elderly and those with a compromised immune system at risk. Illness that’s spreading as fast as this one shouldn’t be ignored. We should take precautions and not ignore people when they say they’re not feeling good.
However, let’s be slow to give coronavirus more power than it deserves. As one person in the medical field told me, “[Coronavirus] is essentially a cold.” Most people will never know they have it. We must ask ourselves, why are so many people panicking about this? What or who gains from the stock market plunging, organizations cancelling events, or people staying home instead of going out?
These are questions worth asking. Taking a deep breath and pausing are also solid strategies. Among other things, Christians are called to be the calm in the chaos, the peace in the panic, and a reassuring presence when the world goes off the rails.
Here are some things we can do that in the coming weeks.
Be smart. Wash your hands, drink plenty of water, and get extra rest. Say no to a commitment this month and allow yourself some wiggle room. A worn-down body is a virus’ playground.
Find beauty. Read to your kids, take a walk, schedule a family game night, or prepare a special dessert to go with dinner. The days are getting longer, so take in a sunset, drink coffee on your porch, watch the birds come back to roost, and go barefoot every once-in-a-while.
Try a technology fast. Turn off the news, log off social media, and quit reading the internet for one day. Assess what the break does for you anxiety levels. When we turn down the technological noise, it’s amazing what else we can hear. It also opens pockets of time in our day for connecting with others and God.
Read your Bible. Take 30 minutes you’d normally spend checking email or scrolling through Facebook to open God’s word. When was the last time you read Genesis? Are the minor prophets unfamiliar to you? Do you have a favorite verse or story you haven’t read in a while? Is there a random New Testament book you’ve never read? If you’re not sure where to start, pick a chapter in Psalms or Proverbs. They’re a good read for sure!
Avoid knee-jerk reactions. People’s emotions are often expressed through a keyboard, and filters are in scare supply. However, we can use our keyboard for good! Fact-check before posting articles. Ask polite questions instead of hurling wild accusations. Continue scrolling or log off if certain comments get your dander up. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” A little gentleness goes a long way in soothing anger and panic.
Pray for those in the medical field. The next month promises to be a difficult stretch for them. Pray for God’s protection over them and the patients under their care. Ask God to put them in situations where they can share their faith, leading to healing of the patients’ bodies and souls. Many patients in nursing homes are being quarantined from their loved ones. Pray for their peace of mind.
Be peacemakers. You are God’s hands and feet wherever you go. He can use anything for His glory, including coronavirus. How can you be a part of His plan in the middle of this season’s problem du jour?
Jesus summed it up best when He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
In a world held hostage by fear, let us demonstrate that perfect love casts out fear. (I John 4:18) God’s love is the antidote for anything that ails us.
Also see “Uncomfortable Grace” on Facebook