Schedules have collapsed. Trips have been canceled. Our weekly cadence of school, work, and evening events have halted. Responding to a pandemic is a first for many of us. In Southeast Texas, the Coronavirus quarantine has the all too familiar feeling of a hurricane evacuation, but a considerable difference stands out. Typically, during the hurricane frenzy, our community draws close. Neighbors and strangers alike look out for each other. As storm patterns are simulated on hurricane tracking charts, we know how to make it through a few weeks of turmoil.
In contrast, it seems this pandemic has imposed a sense of isolation upon us, and the nature and timeline of this threat are not clearly defined. Predictions of the weeks ahead range from apocalyptic prophesies to sadistic comedy. My heart hurts for those who struggle with poor health and fear the possibility of facing this virus. The reality of income loss and financial need is also real. I pray that those of us who can be generous will reach out to the needy. The fearmongering of media outlets is unnecessary and outright heartless. Amidst all this chaos, maybe you would consider a few actions which may serve you and our community.
- Make time to be in the presence of Jesus. There’s no better way to settle your nerves and dispel the anxiety you feel. Let me assure you, this season will pass, and you will come out a better person if you schedule in some face time with Jesus. Rather than merely hope to survive, intentionally to make the most of these next few weeks or months by allowing your soul to hear the voice of Jesus.
- Spend quality time with your family. The nature of this pandemic is unique in that quarantining means more time at home. If you want to make the next few weeks of your life enjoyable, take the time you have at home to be with your spouse, your kids, and others under your roof. Put your devices down, pull out a deck of cards, or a few board games, and possibly a guitar to make your evening count.
- Make a choice not to worry about what will happen tomorrow. We all know that worrying does little to change the outcome of events, so don’t waste a single night worrying. As the Apostle Paul encourages us, “Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7) When you choose to unload your concerns on God, you can experience His gift of peace. His peace will blanket your worry and pull you into a place of confident trust. In this same passage, there’s a key to increase the power to your prayer life. Paul directs us to pray with giving thanks. When worry creeps in, stop and begin to pray. In praying, express to God your thankfulness for your health, home, and community of family and friends. Every time you divert your thoughts from worry to thankfulness, you may find you’ll have less to worry about.
- Find someone to help. The highest surge of meaning and hope you can feel in the next few weeks is found by aiding those in need. Find someone who needs toilet paper, food, or basic supplies and help them out. Hoarding for yourself may give you personal confidence, but generosity will fuse in you Godly confidence. When you live out your righteous nature of kindness, Heaven will move to aid you. (Psalms 37:25)
- Become a block-walking missionary. You’re going to be in your neighborhood, so you might as well walk or drive around your block and pray for your neighbors. If you’re questioned, you can say, “This is our street, and I’m praying for each neighbor. Anything I can pray about for you?” Don’t do anything crazy like anointing the yards of neighbors without permission. Walk, pray, and be kind. See what God can do through you. Of course, you’ll benefit from the exercise as well.
- Pray for our leaders. Don’t become one who propagates fears and unnecessary tension. Don’t buy any of the conspiracy theory junk. Pray and trust the faithfulness of Jesus to take a tragic situation and make miracles out of it.
- Look for opportunities to encourage others. You will find many are open to discussion when you can offer hope in your conversations. Don’t talk about the fear, talk about Jesus. These next few weeks can serve to be a God-given doorway to begin great friendships and disciple those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus. If you walk in the confidence of the covenant you have with Jesus, it will become evident. The weeks ahead can serve to be an excellent discipleship opportunity. Make evident to your friends the God they cannot see through the kindness they can see in you.
In a few weeks, you’ll look back and appreciate the grace God has placed on you today to follow and trust Him with your future. If you act like a goofball bounced around by every wind of fear and suspicion, you’ll regret the missed opportunity of allowing Jesus to illuminate the hearts of those around you.