I told my son that shelter-in-place would last four weeks back in March. “This is just temporary — to help flatten the curve.”
Now, a new school year is beginning, but Josh’s first day in high school and Caleb’s first day in middle school will happen behind a screen through distance learning. The COVID cases where we live in California rank the highest in the country, and it’s still climbing.
When civil unrest exploded with the news of George Floyd’s murder and violence broke out across our country, I told my sons, “People are angry. They’re hurting.”
Overwhelmed by it all, my son exclaimed, “The world’s falling apart! People are dying, and injustice and violence are everywhere. What will happen to us?!”
I looked at his fear-stricken face, eyebrows contorted with worry and anxiety. His brother, sitting next to him, waited for my response too.
What should I tell him? I looked out the window and whispered a breath prayer, God, illuminate my heart.
I replied to him, “Son, I know you feel afraid. I feel afraid sometimes too. It’s very normal. We’re all facing something no one in our generation has ever encountered. When we feel overwhelmed by what we don’t know, it is important to tell yourself the things you know for sure. These are truths that will keep you secure, grounded.”
I went on to tell him that there is a lot I don’t know, but I can say with 100% confidence that this is what I know:
1. We are people of faith and purpose, not panic. God loves us and always takes care of His people.
So many Christians throughout history have faced danger, death, imprisonment, starvation, and evil. The ones who rose to the challenge of their times were the ones who remembered who they were and where they were going.
God has a purpose for us to be alive at this time. We can also rise to the challenge of our generation — whether we are frontline workers, teachers, scientists, or simply neighbors focused on how to help and comfort others.
God also never forgets us in our suffering. He gives us family, friends, books, creativity, nature, and many other beautiful gifts to help us get through hard times. For every hardship, I’ve found God always provides small ways to release our stress. He uses these things to give us peace, joy, comfort, and encouragement for ourselves and for us to offer it to others who are suffering too.
2. We can choose goodness, even in the midst of evil. I think about the many wars that have been fought and how evil can feel overwhelming. There has been so much death and suffering, and yet some of the most powerful stories came from the survivors who lived on to tell their stories and live life fully. What will our story be during and after this pandemic? What stories will we go on to tell in the future?
As we fight our own war on this pandemic, let’s focus on the good we can do. Perhaps, one day, we’ll tell a story to our children’s children, just like people who survived through wars told theirs, and they’ll be able to see that good could always be found in the midst of evil.
3. This world is a place we’re simply traveling through. Remember that we are ambassadors for Christ. Just as some ambassadors get assignments in countries that may not be the safest, we also need to remember whose we are and where our home really is. This world is not our final destination because heaven is our true home. We just need to do our best while we are on assignment on earth, to help the people we meet here, and to represent our loving Savior well — so well that people will long to go where we will one day go as God’s people!
During this season of sheltering-in-place, it’s the perfect time to plant and nurture seeds of kindness, gentleness, love, joy, and peace and to develop who we will be when things settle into some sort of new normal.
4. You are salt and light! This is your time to shine. When this pandemic is over and a vaccination is discovered (and it will), the fruit of the Spirit we’ve nurtured during this time will blossom, and others will be able to see it. They will be blessed by your presence and friendship because of the light you shine.
5. This too will pass. Though it seems like there is no end to this time, it will one day end. So as we wait, we must grow strong in our faith — to learn to endure. We need to lean on the truths of the Bible, be in prayer, and share our worries with others because we are not alone.
God loves us — that hasn’t changed and this I know for sure.
I have loved you with an everlasting love.
Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)
What are the truths that keep you grounded in faith?