Calm in the Chaos
It’s everywhere – TV screens, social media newsfeeds, radio, emails, meetings, formal statements, and casual conversations – reactions to the coronavirus is inescapable. The last 72 hours have been a whirlwind of epic proportions: colleges shut down campuses, professional sports teams suspend seasons, travel is limited or prohibited altogether, and stores are void of food and supplies. Our nation is in a state of emergency and panic. I don’t tend to get worked up about these things, and the virus itself doesn’t have me in a panic. But the frenzied reactions, the ever-changing scenarios and decisions, the frazzled shoppers, the constant chatter everywhere I turn – that creates anxiety in me and tempts me to give in to fear.
Early in the week I wanted to quarantine myself simply because I was tired of hearing about it. But by week’s end, the effects of COVID-19 had become personal. Even in the time it took me to write this, my daughter’s college campus has shut down, my boys’ school has announced its 4-week closure, my church has suspended weekend services and activities, and my local grocery store shelves have sold out. There is no hiding from this reality. No one remains unaffected. These events are unprecedented, and everyone is doing their best to figure it out literally minute by minute at this point. In the midst of all that chaos, how do we as believers respond? How do we as Christian parents respond? Because not only is the world watching us, so are our own children.
As a mother of kids with anxiety and OCD tendencies, I want to be honest, but also careful how I explain this to them. They are hearing everything I am hearing (and maybe more) about this pandemic. Everyone is either speculating or making a statement. Organizations are developing and implementing precautionary plans. And while that is very wise, it also instills additional fear. As parents, we have to balance things out, because this is exactly the type of situation that has the potential to send someone already struggling with anxiety into a tail-spin, a downward mental spiral that could be crippling. So we talk about what’s happening; we do our best to discern fact from myth and truth from hype. We take necessary precautions. We obey government authorities. We use common sense. We are diligent and we are vigilant. We wash our hands. We remember God’s Word. And we pray. But we don’t freak out. Why? Because we believe in a sovereign God who continues to sit on the throne. Neither this virus nor the world’s reaction to it has taken Him by surprise. He remains in complete control, and our lives are safely in His hands. We cannot allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear. Jesus told us there would be trouble in this world. But He also said, “Take heart, because I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33)
Should we be concerned? Absolutely! Should we panic? Absolutely not! While our faith does not make us immune to the things happening around us, our faith does offer calm in the midst of chaos. Jesus brings hope instead of hype, stability in the height of the storm, and peace in the midst of pandemonium. My mind and heart are reassured as God reminds me of His truth and His promises. Remembering His love and grace toward me fuels me to not just make sure my family has what we need, but seeks to ensure that others are also cared for and have adequate provision. Let’s find ways to serve those in our community who need an extra blessing right now. Extend an extra measure of grace – to those working long shifts, to other shoppers who also need supplies, to teachers trying to convert lesson plans, to government officials working hard to make wise decisions for all of us. Give grace to our kids when they act out or melt down, remembering that they are internalizing and processing every bit as much of this as we are.
This is a perfect time to very practically live out our faith. Let our kids see us reading Scripture and claiming the promises of God in our lives and over their lives. Uncertain times and scary situations like the coronavirus give believers prime opportunity to evidence our faith to our kids and to all those around us; to give reason for the hope that we have; to share the Good News of a great God. Mute the madness all around us and hush the hysteria brewing within us by focusing our eyes on Jesus, whose perfect love casts out fear. And by setting our minds on Almighty God, who remains eternally steadfast and sure, the only true calm in the midst of this corona chaos.