How to handle fear and news in light of a pandemic

Depending on which news source and which day, it may appear as if the world is ending. Amidst this crisis (or the next one), how do we respond internally to what is going on around us?

What should be our response as those who follow Christ?

Although there is plenty of guidance out there on the handling of this pandemic, one area we wanted to walk through is what is this doing to our soul, how should we respond both internally and externally, and what role Jesus might be asking us to take.

A verse that has been helpful to me during this time is Isaiah 41:13, “I am the Lord your God, who takes you by the right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you’”.

Everyone who has a relationship with Christ Jesus has a direct line to wisdom, strength, courage, and hope regardless of the situation we find ourselves in. We have put a few of our thoughts together below, but please know that if you go to Him, there is wisdom and direction for the days and weeks ahead specific to your situation (James 1:5).

First, spend some time in listening prayer

Take a few moments each day in the quiet of your house or car to create opportunities to give your soul some rest. If you are like most of us, you go from moment to moment with hardly even 15 minutes for lunch. The isolation required of today allows us to take a moment to pause... take advantage of it! Give yourself some room to pause, pray, and listen each day (even if it is just one minute in your car before you go into work or enter your home... take some deep breaths and allow a quiet moment to align yourself to God). Ask for wisdom, understanding, and peace that surpasses understanding.

Second, release this to God

There is a phrase popularized by John Eldredge lately where he simply prays, “Jesus, I give everyone and everything to you”. Repeat that a few times when you are feeling stressed or anxious. Practice benevolent detachment by releasing patience, tragedy, or strong emotions to Him. Consider Matthew 11:30 and ask how Jesus might lighten your burden during these stressful times.

Third, consider your response

We are called to be light and salt to this world. There are neighbors, friends, family, co-workers, and community members who are completely freaked out and afraid during this time. Additionally, the necessary action of socially distancing ourselves will add to the fear, despair, and loneliness of those around us. Find practical ways to love and be light during this dark time. Consider even small actions, like texting neighbors, making a meal/cookies for them, or just letting them know that you are thinking of them.

Check in on neighbors, especially those that might be isolated. If you feel like taking additional steps, consider inviting them to dinner, board games, iced tea on the porch, etc (follow CDC guidelines though!). Even if you want to sit 6 feet apart on your back deck to minimize contact, any socialization will feel like light in this dark time. Be smart about your actions, but also recognize that this is an ideal time for Christ followers to help lighten others burdens, ease their fear, and help share the hope that we have... and last we checked, viruses don’t spread via phone calls or text messages, so even small steps can be meaningful. :-)

Wherever your heart may be these days, remember that we have someone who created us and formed us before we had taken our first breath. Perhaps, like the tribe of Issachar (I Chronicles 12:32), we can be a people who understand the time and can see the path ahead. Or perhaps like Esther, we can consider where we have been put into our jobs, neighborhood, church, community, and family for “just a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

Most of all, during this time of isolation, know that you are never alone. Although the road before us is difficult, there is someone we can rely on for strength and understanding. Remember the promises of God, and, as appropriate, share that hope with others.

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). Blessings on you as we journey together and lead others toward health in the weeks and months ahead.

This is just one post of many we'll be doing related to the current crisis. Download Cancelled: A Guide to Maintaining Missions Engagement When Your Short-Term Trip is Cancelled.

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