I can honestly say that the last few days have found me in an emotional place I have not previously experienced in my lifetime. My reaction to all of the information being released about COVID-19 going from “This can’t be as big of a deal as it sounds” to “Why is Vanderbilt closing?” to “Wow….no sports, no school, no travel, no events?” has given me feelings that run the spectrum. Doubt, frustration, concern, anger, sorrow and fear just to name a few. My heart hurts for those who have lost lives thus far. It hurts for those in the medical field who will endure longer hours in the days and weeks to come. It hurts for young athletes who have worked their entire lives for a moment on big tournament stages they’ll never experience. It hurts for families who have saved months or years for vacations that will have to be postponed. It hurts for children who will do without meals because they aren’t attending school. It hurts for students who won’t experience a strong finish to their college experience prior to a graduation that may or may not involve their families and friends. It hurts for business owners who will be incredibly impacted financially by all that has occurred and is occurring. The list could go on and on. There are just so many emotions and such incredible impact…some that may seem small and some that seem unbearable.
To get my head around it all, I want to share five things that are on my heart. Five things I want you to hear from me about our current situation. Five things I am trying to consider in my own life to process it all.
1) Faith and Fear cannot co-exist. The enemy has used fear as a tactic to keep believers off course since he was cast from Heaven. Faith, as described in Hebrews 11, is “being certain of what we do not see.” CERTAIN. We must fix our minds and hearts on the certain truth of Scripture. We have a God who is still in control even when our current situation seems so out of control. In John 16 we are told, “Here on Earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Our knowledge may have to take over our feelings to remind us of what it true. That’s why we’re also told, “Take captive your thoughts and make them obedient to Christ.”(2 Cor. 10:5) Scripture has guidance for everything we experience and this is no different. God isn’t in Heaven scratching his head wondering what is happening. Choose faith over fear.
2) Having said that, God is not disappointed in you for having emotions. He’s big enough to allow us to question and wrestle and cry and shout. He loves us to the point of “collecting our tears in a bottle and recording each one in His book.” (Psalm 56:8) He’s never surprised, never caught off guard and loves us no more or no less based on how we react to anything. We are humans, created by a loving God with individual personalities and gifts. These days are hard….it’s okay to feel. He gets it.
3) When you need place to put all of those feelings, turn to prayer and your people. Confess first to Him. Say them out loud. Ask for peace and discernment when information is coming at you from dozens of sources and it’s all contradictory. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”(James 5:16). Don’t neglect prayer or minimize its benefit during times like these and don’t neglect the necessity of your people. Hold your loved ones close. Use the slow down time to invest in your relationships. We need one another.
4) Stay alert. Faith does not mean that we are to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the wisdom of professionals and leaders who advise us. God puts those folks in our path to assist us. Consider the facts and make your decisions based on wise counsel from legitimate sources. I love what my pastor shared just today, “Don’t get your theology from Facebook memes.” I would add, “nor your medical knowledge.”
5) Be a source of reason, comfort and love during this trying time. As people of faith, we have an opportunity to be light and salt every day in our world. But in times like these we can shine brighter than ever before or we can join in and look no differently than those who don’t have the gift of the Holy Spirit. Be careful what you share on social media. Be careful what you say in your circles. In Colossians 4:6 we’re told, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Be patient, be kind, be alert, be diligent, be honest, and encourage when you can. Help calm the fear, don’t be a source of it.
I realize that sometimes as believers it can feel like we’re just throwing Bible verses at things that feel so much bigger than what we can comprehend and I pray these words don’t fall on you in that way. My heart is this. Either we believe Him or we don’t. Either we believe that Scripture is God-breathed or we don’t. Either we believe that He is who He says He is and can do what He says He will do or we don’t. Seek Him, ask Him, trust Him and cling to Him in these difficult days. You are so loved and He is so good.