I miss when “corona” was just a beer. Or an old-fashioned crown. Or the glowing circle of light around the sun. Not a word synonymous with pandemic, quarantines, and a shortage of hand sanitizer.
True confession: despite rolling my eyes at the sensationalism surrounding the coronavirus, on our last date night I made my husband stop at Publix and stockpile cold medicine, cough drops, toilet paper, and chicken soup. “I would just feel better if we had it on hand,” I explained sheepishly. Then I hid in the parking lot while he checked out because I was so embarrassed to be those people. The fear mongers.
But I am afraid.
I’m not afraid of dying. But I’m afraid of suffering — of being trapped in a germy house with five other sick people who need me. I’m afraid of schools and churches being forced to close their doors, hijacking my sense of security, routine, and community. Most of all, I’m afraid of fear; of what it does to otherwise rational people, like myself, who now own no less than 56 rolls of toilet paper.
Fear has a way of becoming self-fulfilling. It doesn’t matter how great the risk may or may not be; if it’s perceived as great, the wheel is set in motion. Stores are ransacked. Businesses freeze. Stocks drop. The economy tanks. Which, of course, leads to more fear.
I know a thing or two about fear. At one point in my life it was so debilitating, I memorized 2 Timothy 1:7 and whispered it into the dark every night for years: “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind.” The more afraid I felt, the more times I said It — over and over, until I believed it.
A few nights ago the staff of Grace Church gathered for a special time of worship, and Pastor Mike said something I’ll never forget. He was talking about how we like to say “good is ahead,” and he said, “It matters the most when we believe it the least.”
Think about that for a second.
The time to live like “good is ahead” is when we fear that it’s not. Everyone’s optimistic in the face of vacations and year-end bonuses. But to live like good is ahead when pandemic is brewing? That’s radical.
I and my 56 rolls of toilet paper are slowly making peace with the coronavirus by recognizing the one beautiful thing about it…it’s an opportunity for Christians to put feet to our faith. To live the lyrics we sing. To meet Jesus in our mess.
Am I still washing my hands? Regularly. Do I stop my children from licking ketchup off the table at Huey Magoos? I certainly try. God has given me a sound mind, and far be it from me to waste it. But worry? What ifs? Excessive googling? No. I want to feed faith and starve fear, for “which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27).
Grace Church, in the months to come, let’s fight the good fight of faith (I Timothy 6:12). Let’s encourage one another all the more, fixing our eyes farther into the future than any momentary affliction. Let’s believe that not for a minute will we be forsaken. Then one day, when COVID-19 is a thing of the past and the next scary threat skims the horizon, we can testify to a watching world that “when anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought me joy” (Psalm 94:19).
Praise Jesus, good is always ahead.