Isaiah 40:31 but they who wait (look in hope) for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
My wife, Kristi, and I were driving up north to attend a wedding. The wedding was about 4 hours away and as we drove, we were listening to the news. The news was filled with closure after closure due to the Coronavirus or COVID-19.
The LA Unified School District of a half a million students decided to close as well as the San Diego Unified School District, both some of the largest districts in Southern California. In the middle of hearing of other districts closing, my wife, a teacher, got word that her district was closing. In addition, amusement parks like Disneyland, Magic Mountain, and Knotts Berry Farm are all closing. Businesses are choosing to let employees work from home if possible.
There were reports of long lines at grocery stores. We actually stopped to get a salad for lunch at a Trader Joe’s grocery store and it took 30 minutes in line to make our purchase. In talking to the cashier, she said it had been like this all day. There were also reports of some stores having empty shelves and limits to the number items you can purchase.
In that Trader Joe’s, people were tense, stressed, and sounding a bit fearful. I can imagine families scrambling to figure out child care. Also, people wondering if they are or can be exposed to this virus. Others concerned about their own family, friends, people they love and those more vulnerable to this virus. There is also the apprehension of what else might happen and what if we are exposed. Fear, anxiety, trepidation, distress, and whole lot of other feelings are taking their turn in gripping our hearts in this world-wide crisis. So how should we respond?
Let me suggest 4 actions that are known to bring peace, wisdom, calm and clarity in troubled times.
First, trust God and look to Him.
Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
This Bible verse was written at a time when people were in crisis to call them to look to and trust in God. Because where there seems to be no path forward in a wilderness, a crisis, God makes one. As well, where there is no natural refreshment or relief, like the news of the spread of COVID-19 and all the closures, God creates one. He is the One we can turn to for help.
Psalms 121:1-2 I lift up my eyes to the hills.From where does my help come?My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
None of what we are going though caught God by surprise and He will guide us through. The key is to trust as Proverbs 3:5-6 challenges.
Next, be educated, be kind, be calm.
Proverbs 19:20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.
Though the News and Social Media can instruct us, there are places to hear the facts. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has good information as well as World Health Organization live updates and if you live in Orange County, California the OC Public Health Care Agency has updates. Being educated will help you know important and verified information. As well, in these tense times, it helps to be kind as Ephesians 4:32 encourages. Your acts of kindness will not only bring peace but encourage others to be kind. Also, choosing to be calm is helpful. We all find calm in different ways; reading a book, enjoying comedy, taking a walk out in nature, listening to calming music, exercising, or talking to a good friend or loved one. Sure, in all these practices the recommended ‘social distancing’ of 6 feet is important.
Another crisis response is to pray.
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Pray for health professionals as they help the sick and guide the public through this crisis. Pray for God to bring peace, healing, and draw people to Himself.
Lastly, in response to this crisis, we can help others.
Hebrews 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Check in with an elderly person in your neighborhood. Ask how people are holding up. Call, email, Facetime, or text a friend, family member, or coworker that God puts on your mind. Offer to pick up something at the store for someone in need. Be willing to share what you have with those in need. Continue to give to your church so they can keep helping your community. Maybe also consider additional giving to your church’s benevolent fund as more needs will be coming. Helping others lowers our anxiety and helps us all feel and experience connection. Together we can bring God’s peace and calm to this growing crisis.
Church can be a great source of help in crisis. Many churches have moved their gatherings to ‘live streamed’ services. If you don’t have a church you regularly attend, we would like to invite you to Neighborhood Church/Cypress Church (same church, same heart, just a new name). We have three campuses; our website has all the information you would need in addition to up-to-date information due to the Coronavirus or COVID-19. Every Sunday we learn from the Bible and seek to know God more. Here is the link to our live-streaming services (see http://live.cypresschurch.net/).
Photo courtesy of Cypress Church.