“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27
Just one month ago I took a long awaited trip to Disney World with my youngest daughter. Our family bought an RV and I began brainstorming and planning my bucket list road trip to Montana this summer. I was nervously following Coronavirus on the news, trying to make sense of the differing perspectives and holding onto hope.
Like everybody else, our lives have been turned upside down the past two weeks. My 18 year old son with Down Syndrome is home until April 15, at this point probably longer. His senior prom was supposed to be in May, and his graduation in June. His older siblings have brought plane tickets so that they could be here. He’s anxiously asking about a graduation party and seeing his friends. I don’t know what to say or do right now. We’ve been blindsided.
We also have to make a serious decision about his transition years considering that the virus is probably not going to go away any time soon. What will be in the best interest of his health as a heart patient and as a person with Down Syndrome who is anatomically wired to get sicker than the general population?
We’re all standing in the midst of troubled times unlike most of us have ever had to experience over the course of our lives. This horrendous Coronavirus is a rapidly spreading pandemic, affecting people across the globe from every walk of life. From the very young to the old, everyone in between, the disabled and the chronically ill, we’re all at risk.
It’s tempting to give into panic and worry in this trying place. You may have been tempted to hoard supplies, watch the news 24/7 and worry about all the awful things that might happen to you or your loved ones.
Fear and worry are natural and normal human reactions to events we have no control over. Fear and worry might be the most tempting reaction, but it’s not your only choice. There’s another option that is easy to overlook – peace.
Peace is a Choice
We often think of peace as an occasional state of mind that we stumble across every now and then, usually when things are going the way we want. It’s easy to feel peaceful when we’ve had a nice day at the beach, or a loved one’s cancer battle is going well.
But it’s also important to remember that we can choose to walk in peace, no matter what’s going on around us. Even in the midst of a terrible pandemic like Coronavirus. Even when we’re afraid of losing our jobs and are worried about feeding our families and keeping them safe.
What God Says About Going Through Hard Times
Finding peace always begins with turning our eyes upward. It starts with turning your eyes upwards to the throne of God.
I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil, He will keep your life. (Psalm 121)
Friends, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. It might not look like it right now, but He’s still on the throne. He still reigns. Take a minute to meditate on that truth for just a moment. No matter how crazy things get, despite the chaos pain and heartbreak that is occurring at this very moment, God is still in control.
Where is God in All This?
In Matthew 10:29, Jesus said “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Remember how very precious you are to God. From the very beginning He knit your cells together. He knew all about you before you were born, what you would look like and what struggles you would have to face. He loves you and those that you love.
Does God Care about the Coronavirus?
Matthew 14:14 reads, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, he reached out to people with every kind of disease and disability in a variety of ways. Some of those people were healed by simply touching the hem of His garment. Remember that the very same Jesus who had compassion on the sick and frail thousands of years ago still has compassion for those who suffer. He knows about every physical struggle and chronic condition that we have to encounter in this life and on this earth.
Get Out of Your Head & Serve Others
One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to serve others. As a Christian, you’re standing in the middle of an amazing opportunity to let your light shine. Right now, people are desperate for words of prayer, encouragement and hope.
Here’s some practical ways to serve others:
- Be kind to those around you, especially to those who are serving the public during this difficult time.
- Don’t hoard critical supplies.
- Share your resources with those who don’t have any.
- Send a text to a friend.
- Pray for those in your circles – family, friends, neighbors, professionals.
- Post positive things on social media.
If you start to struggle yourself, remember God’s care and provision in times past. He didn’t fail you then, and He’s not going to fail you now. Reach out to a trusted friend, family member or pastoral staff. Some churches have lay ministers that you can meet with. Don’t feel that you have to walk through this frightening time alone.
God, today we choose to rejoice in Your Sovereignty. We are reminded that You are ultimately in control and no virus, flu, or illness can enter our lives without Your Divine permission. You alone hold the power of life and death.
We lift up all of those who have been affected and will be affected by Coronavirus. We ask for complete healing over their bodies and continual peace over their hearts and minds. We pray for speedy recoveries without complications and hardship.
We also pray for those who are working on the front lines including medical professionals and first responders right now. These servants are certainly close to Your heart. Father, please protect them from this awful disease. Comfort them as they comfort others. Encourage them in the midst of this battle and remind them that the armies of God are greater than our earthly foes.
You are Lord over your creation. Father, we plead with you to stop this deadly Coronavirus in its tracks. We pray for the development of good treatments to shut this virus down. Just as You have full control over every virus, Father, we ask You to stop this one.
Finally, God we pray for those who have lost or will lose loved ones to the Coronavirus. Walk with these precious souls. Let us be compassionate to them, come alongside those who are grieving, and comfort them in their affliction.
Father, we thank You for who You are and for all You’ve done. We know You’re in control even when the world feels chaotic and crazy. Let us remember to fix our eyes on you in this trying moments. Keep our gaze fixed on the Cross. We pray in Jesus name, Amen.
Practical Tips for Soul Care During the Pandemic
- Create a routine. When you get up, resist the urge to check your social media feeds. Take some time for prayer, meditation and devotional reading. Then take a shower and put some light makeup on.
- Get moving. Take a walk outside if you can or do some in home yoga or other fitness activity.
- Eat well and stay hydrated. It can be tempting to indulge on the quarantine snacks, but don’t. You’re going to feel ten times worse at the end of this if you’ve added on pounds. Try putting on your regular jeans every few days to remind yourself of how you’re doing.
- Reach out to others. Text friends and family. Connect with online ministries and recovery meetings.
- Create something. Whether it’s cooking, art, gardening, journaling or something else, creating something with your hands is one of the best ways to take your mind off your worries.
- Spend real time with your family. Play an actual game, do a puzzle, cook or bake. Take a walk together. The memories that you’re making during this difficult time are priceless. This is our moment to rise up and shine for our kids. We can model inner peace, strength and resilience to them.
Do you have any tips for coping during this difficult time? I’d love to hear them!