“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” — Psalm 56.
Words like “global health threat,” “death toll,” “economic collapse,” “shut down,” and “social distancing,” have become familiar in the past few weeks. The coronavirus pandemic has given birth to widespread fear and uncertainty. Questions abound. How many will die in the next few weeks? If the closures continue much longer, what will our country look like on the other side of this?
The world we knew has disappeared. Huge changes have happened in bewildering, quick succession. Will life ever get back to normal? And how do we cope?
Many are tempted to give in to despair. Others who have not been personally affected might think more of their safety than others’ danger. We do our best to keep our distance and wash our hands and assume we will be OK. Possibly you, like me, have struggled with a mixture of both kinds of thoughts.
The only vaccine for fear is trusting God. A wise person once said, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future.” The Bible has many promises that can help us deal with fear. Here are just a few: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
"Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
One of the things that strengthen our trust is knowing that God can bring good out of bad. Oddly enough, the shutdown has had some benefits. For example, people who live on the canals in Venice, Italy have reported that the water has never been cleaner. They can even see the fish.
Air pollution has been reduced. Many previously smog-filled Chinese cities are seeing blue skies. Researchers suggest that up to 100,000 premature deaths caused by air pollution in China could be avoided if the country would continue its industrial slow down for a full year.
We are learning to wash our hands. We are now more educated about virus sanitation and disinfection.
Italians are singing from their balconies.
God is at work. He is using a variety of people to help in a variety of ways. A community spirit has emerged as people stay in touch by phone and learn to use other online platforms.
He has used the crisis to show His love for the animal kingdom. Circus animals have gotten a much-needed break. People are walking their pets more. Many of the four-legged are enjoying the consequences of COVID -19.
More unborn kids are surviving. Texas is one state that has enacted a temporary ban on abortion clinics. Some other states are doing the same. And what about respect for the elderly? Concern for seniors has increased as supermarkets and some banks have created special 70-plus time slots. Who inspired this?
A long list of celebrities, professional athletes, generous philanthropists, and private businesses have donated hundreds of millions toward community food security, medical supplies, employee relief funds, and vaccine research. A much larger number of unknown ordinary folks are donating time and effort and money to help at food pantries and soup kitchens and other services.
As we look to the future, let us remember God is still in charge. We may lose some things, but we never lose the watch care of our heavenly Father. “'For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed,’” He says, “'but my kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall the covenant of my peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has mercy on you” (Isaiah 54:10).
Barry Kimbrough is Pastor at Brookings and Gold Beach Seventh-day Adventist Churches.