I know this might come as a shock, as I add another coronavirus article to the interwebs, but I’m not an infectious disease expert. I’m not a medical detective or a germ scientist nor am I really sure either of those things are actual professions. People are always like, “Man, Scarlet! You just seem so detectivey and science-like!” yet that is not the case. Furthermore, I’m not a master of COVID avoidance strategies. I’m not a practiced doomsday prepper (my husband sort of is, so I’m covered there). And I’m not a brilliant doctor ready to heal the infected in my part of the world.
I am, however, awesome at being afraid. I’ve practiced being scared very often in a variety of circumstances. I’ve pretty much been pre-worrying about this sort of scenario for my entire life.
So, how does someone who is always afraid of everything thing deal with the one thing everyone is afraid of everywhere? Here are a few ways God’s Word and God’s gospel have helped me fight fear over the years that will work today as we worry about a disease that’s taking over the globe.
Set Your Mind On Something Bigger Than the Pandemic
I have had to fight for peace my entire life. It seems like I’m wired to exist in fight-or-flight and to doomsday-scenario every possible situation. That means I don’t speak about fear and write about fear as someone who has a magic answer for it. I simply share my testimony as someone who is no longer a slave to fear as I fight to keep setting my mind “on things above” (Colossians 3:2) not on the coronavirus death stats. I think the reason I was able to shop at Target yesterday without boiling the entire cart first is because I’m genuinely sure Jesus is more powerful than corona.
Just take a moment then to remember there is something, Someone, bigger and higher and more impressive than COVID. When you live in a Christian worldview, the first step then is to think outside the world you can view. God made and owns and controls everything. Sickness doesn’t surprise Him. Death doesn’t defeat Him. ”When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54, ESV).
In my prayer life, in my time in God’s Word, and in the way I talk to my kids, I try to remind myself that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). It’s something that feels truer to me with every encounter I have with Jesus.
When Paul wrote those words to the Philippians, he wasn’t writing as a perfected man who never felt any negative emotions. He just had the right perspective. His goals, his dreams, his eyes were on Jesus. He looked higher than his circumstances. Physical pain and shipwrecks and bondage and violence and turmoil didn’t grip him like it did the non-believer because he was so fixated on eternal things.
I often get this wrong, but when I fight to keep my eyes on the cross and the God who loved me there, there is peace instead of panic. So, if I or the people I love come down with shortness of breath, fever, and a cough, I know we’ll be alright in the end. God loves us. God is in control. He’s going to work all global viruses together for our good.
Remember What God Has Brought You Through Before
I’m not going to lie. I have, in this season, done a little bit of over-the-top googling. You know, like, what exactly are we dealing with here? Why is everyone in the world MORE scared than even me right now? In those moments though, I make an effort to remind myself of how Jesus has shown Himself present and active and compassionate and beautiful in moments I’ve suffered before.
I remember in November when I thought I was dying of thyroid cancer. I was miserable. I was heartbroken. I was scared. I was SICK. But often throughout that ordeal, I was joyful and peaceful because God did not forsake me. The hope of forever-health and peace didn’t stop being true. It made me more sober-minded, for sure. It made me more compassionate. It made me less distracted and more intentional about spending time with the Lord. I had some dark days, but I was never alone.
I have so many other moments now when God has been faithful in the midst of my struggles. I love to remember goodness when things don’t look so great.
“Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
I’m sure you have your own stories of God’s goodness in dark days. Reflecting back on the spiritual beauty of hard moments is a right thing to do if you find yourself fearing the bad and scary stuff that’s lurking all around us right now.
Those of us who are children of God—some of us are going to get sick. And Jesus will be with us. Some of our friends will get sick. And He will be loving us. Some of our family will face this as well. And we will experience the blessing of God’s nearness and His personal communication when we’re able to let the temporary things fall out of focus.
Love Your Neighbor
Because my name is kind of associated with fear, a lot of people have reached out to me lately. People are scared. They’re thinking of their kids and their parents and their grandparents. None of us want to be wiped out by a pandemic. None of us want to suffer.
Maybe you’re like me, more prone to live in fear, or maybe you’re like the other end of the spectrum and you can’t stop shouting, “CALM DOWN, PEOPLE.” Here’s the thing. Let’s be sensitive.
This is hard. It’s hard for the whole world. No matter how we respond to tornadoes or viruses or tragedy of other sorts, there’s not a single one of us who will make it out of this life unscathed.
Jesus warned us of this reality. Remember? “I have told you these things so that in Me, you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).
I can’t look at those words in this world without crying. Jesus is real, you guys. Jesus really loves us. He really has overcome all the broken, sad, scary things that threaten our souls. I say that, not as a perfect Christian who has a perfect life with everything working out, but as a forgiven mess with pains I write about and pains I hide.
Jesus is not out to get us. He’s out to love us. He is bigger than a pandemic, and He is compassionate toward those who are suffering—be it physically, or mentally, or emotionally, etc. He knows fear. He sweat blood. He felt pain.
We can leave our worries with Him, and we can love our scared friends and our sick friends in His strength. We can love them by listening, by showing up, by NOT showing up (quarantine). We can love our neighbors, because look how God has loved us.
Our souls can’t catch this virus. In a little while, we’ll all be safe. Whether or not we have enough sanitizer and toilet paper, whether or not we live for decades or die tomorrow morning, we’re going to be okay.