I’m writing this blog on the morning of the following news updates:
- Wall Street reeled as the Dow fell more than 2,000 points.
- The U.S. death toll rose to 26 and several members of Congress are in self-quarantine after possible exposure to the coronavirus.
- Italy has placed travel restrictions on the entire country of 60 million people.
- Avon students (Indianapolis area school district) will have “e-learning days” through March 20 because of concerns about COVID-19.
I imagine that by the time you read this, the above updates will be “outdates,” and what’s new today will be old tomorrow.
Medical experts are telling us that this disease is indeed dangerous, but the self-protection mentality of the masses may actually be proving worse. Abdu Sharkaway, a Toronto doctor, wrote a Facebook post last week that went viral. In it, he attacked the “spellbinding spiral of panic” as the number of people infected continues to increase.
"What I am scared about is the loss of reason and wave of fear that has induced the masses of society into a spellbinding spiral of panic, stockpiling obscene quantities of anything that could fill a bomb shelter adequately in a post-apocalyptic world.”
We’ve all witnessed the all-too-familiar scene of empty shelves at Costco, Sam’s and Walmart where hand sanitizers, cleaning products, masks, and gloves once resided.
The church where I serve is working diligently to enforce every precautionary measure we can for sanitizing our facility (especially our kids' areas), and to develop actions related to how we serve communion and to any possible future restrictions placed on public gatherings.
As the old adage goes, “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.”
So, how should we respond to the “spellbinding spiral of panic” that can quickly lead to hoarding rather than helping and fear rather than faith? Jesus gives us a path forward.
Fear not. When the disciples were terrified due to a great storm that was soon to engulf their small fishing boat (with them on board), they cried out to Jesus, and He said, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26). We tend to fear the unknown and that over which we have no control. To conquer fear, we need to grow our faith, which means we trust in the One who knows the unknown and controls the uncontrollable.
Pray and plan. Jesus was about to enter into His final test of suffering and death, and he said to his disciples, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Prayer calms the soul, aligns the mind, and opens the heart. Jesus also said, “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). Wisdom shines down on planning, and innocence directs its steps.
Be generous. Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear” (1 John 4:18). Love leads to generosity, that which we invoke to be a giver rather than a taker. When we demonstrate a spirit of generosity, we are following in the footsteps of our Master who “emptied Himself by taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7).
We don’t know how long this global concern will remain, but we do know what will remain forever for those who place their trust in Jesus: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Therefore, do . . . not . . . fear.