Panic! in Pandemics
COVID-19 didn't start off in America with a death or hospitalization. It started here in memes. Funny stuff on the internet about how it had infected other countries. It wasn't something we took seriously. We just used it to occupy a little brain space while we were on the couch scrolling through Reddit or Instagram.
But who's laughing now?
COVID-19, aka the coronavirus, hit the U.S. and brought almost everything to a screeching halt. Schools closed up, businesses are shutting down, and people are staying in. The President declared a state of emergency and asked that all gatherings of people 10 or more cease so we can limit the fallout from the disease.
Over the course of a few months, COVID-19 has become a pandemic; a global disease. Although most of us will only feel cold like symptoms, if any at all, it does have some fatal possibilities for those who are high risk. So instead of making memes, we panicked.
Grocery stores became the highest stock option overnight. People fought over toilet paper like it was the last roll on earth. We hoarded food and turned into all those doomsday preppers that we laugh at.
But why? Why did we panic? Because we are afraid that this might be it. This might be the thing that finally starts being a real problem for humanity. SARS was scary and Ebola was cause for concern, but most of us were okay. Maybe mildly inconvenienced but we were okay. With this new disease, people are afraid that it might take a loved one or it might never stop.
We are afraid because we don't know what comes next.
But if you're a Christian, you do know what comes next. It's whatever God wants to come next. Whether this should continue or tomorrow is the day everything gets cleared up, it's exactly where God wants it to be. Our trust is not in our circumstances, but in the God who designed them. So we shouldn't act as though we are afraid, because "God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."
The apostle Paul wrote that to Timothy as he was encouraging him to keep walking out his faith. Paul tells him that the Holy Spirit in him does not produce fear and anxiety. It has power and love for God and others. But I would argue the most important thing the Holy Spirit gives us from this text is self-control.
Self wants to hoard in case I need something. Self wants to give into worries and fears because what might happen to ME. Self wants me to stop helping others because what if it doesn't benefit ME. Self wants to stop going, giving, and connecting with church because it's online and I don't like it.
Self needs to be controlled because self is in direct violation of Jesus' commands to us. In Matthew 22:36-39 he tells us that the greatest commandments are to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" and to "love your neighbor as yourself." Both of these commands tell us to go outside of ourselves to seek God and others first.
That doesn't mean that worries aren't valid. Coronavirus can be scary for many people, but it does mean we don't panic! We surrender our perceived power and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we are self-controlled. So as you begin to let worry or anxiety about your situations seep into your mind, stop there and let me correct it. Tell yourself "I wanna live a life from a new perspective." I want to be self-controlled.