We don’t react out of fear.
In uncertain and anxious times like these, fear is a natural response. However, scripture reminds us that “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
It is not wrong to feel afraid. I have felt afraid a few times over these last few days. I’ve never experienced a global pandemic before…none of us have! This is all new, and we don’t yet know how all of this will play out.
However, we know that God is with us (Psalm 139). We know that God gives us what we need for each day (Lamentations 3:23). We know that God will never leave us, nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). We know that we need not worry about tomorrow, for today has enough troubles. And we know that if God cares for the sparrows, surely he’ll also care for us (Matthew 6:26, 34).
When I’ve started to feel fear in my mind and my body, I have recalled to mind the words from Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Those first two words, “Be Still”, come to me in different ways. Sometimes, it’s the calm, gentle whisper, inviting me to rest. Sometimes, it’s the loud and interrupting “Be Still!” that many parents have to say to children to get their attention.
Though we may feel afraid from time to time, we can choose to not act from a place of fear. We do so when we find our grounding in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The best way to do that is to be still…breathe…and notice God’s presence.
We remain wise and discerning.
Jesus encourages us to be wise as servants, and innocent as doves.
There are a lot of potential sources of “information” out there. Not all of them are reliable. On the whole, be suspicious of information that does not come from a governmental source, or does not directly refer to a governmental source. This includes the media. This includes email forwards. This includes what you hear from your friends and neighbors. This includes anything from me!
Before you believe anything you are reading or hearing from others, or before you share anything either online or in person, verify that it matches what is being put out by the authorities.
The following websites should be your primary sources of information:
We obey the authorities.
Romans 13 tells us, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”
While we do not need to act out of fear, we must act out of reverence for the governmental authorities and their recommendations and requirements. The policies they institute are being done in the interest of public health. Even if you personally don’t believe you are at risk like others, that does not give you license to do as you please.
If the government recommends that we avoid crowds, we are to avoid crowds. If the government tells us to practice social distancing (don’t be closer than 6-feet to people in public), that’s what we practice. I could go on…but the point is simple. We are to obey the authorities.
We care for the vulnerable in our midst.
Jesus intentionally engaged with the people society did not want to touch. He taught us that we are to care for the “least of these”. Our calling as the church to care for those in need is especially important in these times.
We may not yet know all the ways that people will require help over the next few weeks. But we do know that we are called to come alongside those who are in need.
As these needs arise, Vergennes Church will do our best to serve in the kinds of ways that Jesus served.
Also, many of the governmental regulations that are being put into place are there in order to protect those among us who would be most at risk of serious symptoms were they to catch COVID-19. See above for why we obey the authorities, but if you need a further reason, consider how social distancing practices (not shaking hands, avoiding crowds, communicating virtually) can be expressions of Christian care for the most vulnerable among us, and as acts of loving support for medical professionals who have a direct vocation to care for the sick.
We take care of ourselves.
The greatest commandments are to love God with all of your being, and to love your neighbor as yourself. You are limited in your ability to love others to the degree that you’re able to love yourself! (That’s a whole sermon topic for another day…)
What this means is, you can only pour into others out of your fullness. So…take care of yourself!
This is especially true in regard to the most obvious things. The best way to keep yourself healthy is to regularly wash your hands with soap for 20+ seconds. In addition, our immune systems are stronger if we care for our bodies’ physical needs. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Drink plenty of fluids. Eat healthy meals, with full servings of fruits and vegetables. Do the simple things to keep yourself healthy.
Yes, we laugh. We hold onto our humanity by laughing. Even while we are taking the concerns seriously, moments of joy keep us grounded and whole. Find moments to laugh with others. You’re stuck at home; put in a funny movie! Share a funny meme with your friends. Persevere in joy and gratitude. Now more than ever, we need to laugh.
We pray for those who are sick.
We pray for those in authority who lead us.
We pray for the healthcare workers and others who care for the sick.
We pray for those who are especially vulnerable.
We pray that God shows us how we can best love our neighbors.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.