We are currently in uncharted waters. With the spread of COVID-19 world-wide (or nearing it), what’s happening is very unprecedented (at least in my lifetime and in many others). Given the warnings, the information that is out there (whether you believe it’s hype or not), and the suggestions from both state, federal, and local agencies, how are we to respond as those who believe in Jesus?
I believe there are some things that are helpful and unhelpful as we look at how we are willing to respond in this unique season in our history. I hesitate to use the words “should” and “should not” because I believe the Lord gives us freedom and guidance in how each of us is to respond. He also gives us guidance and nudges us towards things He wants us to participate in with Him. What I feel may be right or ok for me, may not be for you. (Not “right” in a moral sense but just right for what and how God is speaking to you.)
As you read this, listen to what Father may be saying to you. He may spark an idea that isn’t on this list (which would be amazing!) or He might bring something to your mind which you’ve thought about before but may have dismissed it as your own idea (God speaks through and within us – often thought of as a “gut feeling” or “random thought” but those are often the nudges of the Spirit.)
Do Not Be Afraid
Easier said than done, isn’t it? I am not one that is prone to hype or blowing things out of proportion, but I have even found myself being tempted to fear and be afraid of our current situation. I find myself worrying about my family and those I know who are in the at-risk population (my parents, in-laws, my wife’s extended family). At first, I thought a lot of what was being publicized was being sensationalized by the media (and I still think that to a degree), but I also think that the situation we are in is serious and we should take it seriously without being afraid.
God is always with us. He’s probably not going to swoop down and cure everyone (well He has done that in the most important way), but He promises to stay with us in the midst of trials…to not leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)…that we cannot be separated by His love under any circumstance.
There are some practical things we can do to continue to love each other and be helpful during the coming weeks (and months, depending).
Limit your personal freedom.
I know we’re American and love our freedom, and rightfully so; however, when MY freedom begins to impact and harm others (or even have the potential of doing so) I feel it is my personal responsibility to limit my freedom so that I don’t unintentionally harm or expose others to unnecessary risks.
I get it. I was on vacation in Colorado with my family and another family when they shut down all the ski resorts. We didn’t even get to ski one day. My kids were disappointed. I was disappointed. We even thought about staying; however, the Colorado governor encouraged visitors to leave the state and self-isolate for 14 days upon return. So that’s what we did.
I’m still a bit amazed by people who continue to ignore the warnings and are out and about in very public and crowded spaces (some even I know personally). Again, this is a choice you have to make, but I would encourage you to really consider what your personal freedom means (or might potentially mean) to someone else?
Spread the Cheer
I’ve seen some pretty cool things that people are doing, in some small part, to help alleviate fear and boredom as both kids and parents are finding themselves home for longer periods than expected.
My brother-in-law did an entertaining night of silliness on Facebook live that was fun and family-friendly – he told jokes, sang an original parody, and did a one-man-band thing where he sang, played 2 instruments and brought out the snaps (with his fingers).
What can you do to spread some cheer or hope during this time? You don’t have to go on Facebook or any kind of social media. Some of it could be to thank the people who are still working at the grocery stores, restaurants (that are still open), and public service jobs (nurses, doctors). Many are working tirelessly and thanklessly to help keep our cities and communities going.
How can you spread the cheer during this weird and scary time for many?
Love Your Neighbor
My wife, who is often more thoughtful than I am, is checking on our neighbors. Many of our neighbors (most, in fact) are retired and would be in the at-risk category for this virus. Do you know your neighbors? Is there anything they need or need help with? Now would be a great time to check on them and see if there are ways you can help while also maintaining that “social distance”.
One of our friends here locally started a Facebook group for our community where people can sign up to help deliver groceries (or the ever-elusive roll of toilet paper) or do errands for those who can’t or don’t want to get out at the moment (who can blame them?)
How is Father nudging you to love your neighbor during this time? Maybe it’s a literal neighbor. Maybe it’s a co-worker or friend. However you feel nudged, listen and respond. It’s probably going to look different for you than someone else. That’s okay – in fact, that’s how we respond as the Church – each in his or her own way as we learn to listen.
Learn to Listen
My other (very) strong encouragement during this time when things are uncertain and you may have *lots* of extra time on your hands is to use this time to learn how to listen for the nudges and direction I mentioned above.
Maybe you’ve never thought you had access to Father in this way. Maybe you’ve always depending on someone else (pastor, priest, minister) to listen for you. The whole reason Jesus came was to remove every obstacle, ever barrier, and every human institution between you and God. He loves you that much. We are not reliant on anyone to reveal God to us. His will, His purpose, His desire is for all of us to know and all of us to walk in and be confident in, for that matter.
How would you start something like that? First, ask. Scripture says we do not have because we do not ask. So, ask Father to reveal Himself to you. It’s that simple to begin. Then, watch and wait. It will come, but you can’t force it (believe me, I’ve tried). It often comes when you least expect it, and it’s not always the most convenient timing.
What does God speaking look like?
- Someone comes to mind – seemingly random. Call or text them. See how they are.
- A spiritual conversation emerges as you talk to friends or co-workers.
- An idea pops in your head about helping someone or encouraging someone.
- You feel a sense of peace in a tense or fearful situation and can’t explain why.
- A scripture verse comes out of nowhere that encourages you – or that and someone’s name comes to mind. This might be encouraging to them. Share it!
For me, it often looks like a blog post or something to write or a conversation with friends or co-workers. We’re all different and Father knows what we’re good at. So, it often looks like something you’re good at and would enjoy, as well as being encouraging to someone else. It’s the whole body metaphor in action.
What if you miss it?
Start with not beating yourself up, for one thing. I’m sure I’ve missed lots of things God was asking me to join in on, but He’s all about forgiveness and second (third, fourth, twenty-ninth, and umpteen-million) chances. You won’t always get it right. So, just know that you are loved and you are learning. When you do get it right, rest in the fact that you joined God on something He was asking. No need to brag about it or post it on social media. Learning to live in His reality means you don’t feel the need to display your goodness before others. You can rest in the fact that you listened and responded.