The events of recent days are leaving many people fearful of what the future might bring. When President Trump announced from the White House Rose Garden a declaration of national emergency, Americans found themselves thrust into new territory in an unprecedented time of change. For many, their routine orderly lives were turned upside down, and they don’t quite know what to make of it.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7
It seems everywhere “toilet tissue” has become the meme of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. How is that a product as commonplace as toilet paper becomes such an issue? Fear.
2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that fear can replace power, diminishes love, and leaves many with an unsound mind.
Those fearful of the unknown seem to lose their grasp of reality and with unsound minds scramble to the store and panic buy whatever they can get their hands on. And, toilet paper is one of those “comfort” items that Americans have come to take for granted that seemingly gives them solace.
I believe one lesson we can learn is that being prepared diminishes fear.
For those more seasoned “preppers,” they’re not scrambling for toilet paper. Instead, they have been preparing for an event like this pandemic for years. COVID-19 is not a surprise to them. They already have a supply of toilet paper along with their food, water, medications, first aid kits, shelter, ammo, and other necessary supplies. It’s not the preppers hoarding toilet paper and other supplies… it’s those frightened individuals not prepared and driven instead by fear.
I’m reminded of Joseph, who through a series of divine events was led to a place where he had the power to deliver hope to a desperate people facing famine and because of his prepping successfully brought Egypt through a widespread agricultural catastrophe. During the seven years of abundant harvest, Joseph developed a stockpiling system to store the grain (Gen. 41:48-49). During the seven lean years that followed, Joseph opened the storehouses and dispensed grain to the Egyptians and other people who were affected by the widespread famine (Gen. 41:57).
I believe we are now just at the beginning stages of this pandemic and the days, weeks, months, and perhaps years ahead are going to bring new challenges and unprecedented change to our lives.
We’ve already seen borders closed, travel restrictions, quarantines, millions thrown into unemployment, public venues closed, schools and businesses closed, and even prohibitions of gathering for church services. Worse yet are those officials promoting Nazi style hot lines for turning in your neighbors for violating social distancing measures. What’s next? And, how will we react to those changes? Will we react with fear? Or will we react with power, love, and a sound mind?
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Another fear driven behavior is the mass wearing of face masks coupled with the politics of division within society. Never mind there is no evidence that face masks protect you from SARS-CoV-2, it seems many are donning that novel face apparel while many others are making homemade face masks for their friends and family. Fear is driving those folks to irrational behaviors and like in Platos’ Allegory of the Cave, are lashing out at anyone that upset their illusions. As communities and businesses require the wearing of masks, those that push back and don’t comply are labeled as “disrespectful” by those mask wearing lemmings. I’ve seen reports of the conflict over wearing a mask having escalating to violence, even murder. That seems to me to be a clear indication of the unsoundness of mind Paul referred to in 2 Timothy 1:7.
I suspect there will be those who continue to bury their heads in the sand and ignore all the signs around them. I’m sure you’ve heard those dismiss coronavirus saying, “what’s the big deal?” as the rest of the world spirals into chaos. That’s nothing new and has gone on since the days of Noah (Genesis 6-8). Others have followed the events in China, Italy, and around the world and have anticipated and prepared for much of what we see now. We’re being told by the experts to prepare for a new normal. I’m afraid that new normal will include unsoundness of mind as we’re all divided and conquered by a new world order of control and domination.
Other will shirk their responsibilities and claim “it’s all in God’s hands,” and do nothing.
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19
While it’s true God is in control and our destiny is in His hands, He also expects His chosen people to step up and do the right thing.
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. – Philippians 4:6-7
Now, I’m not suggesting that Christians shouldn’t take this pandemic seriously. We all should be praying and be concerned about what is happening as we prepare, just as Joseph did, but we can do that without fear. When you are prepared, your life is so much better.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.” – Isaiah 26:3
We can, and should, approach this pandemic with power, love, and a sound mind. We can, and should, go to God in prayer and trust He will show us the way through this crisis.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5
Throughout all the trials Joseph was subjected to (sold into slavery, falsely accused and thrown in jail) his faith in God never wavered and he took the actions necessary to get his people through the famine of this time. Perhaps you have not done in the past the things to prepare for this current crisis, but there are some practical things you can do now:
- The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- If you are sick: You should wear a face mask when you are around other people.
- Stay calm and do not panic (keep your sound mind).
I’m reminded, too, of Esther who risked her life to do the right thing (Esther 4). What might God be calling you to do “for just such a time as this?”
Perhaps these events are allowed by God to wake up His people and remind them they cannot trust in the things of this world. We live in a fallen state, full of troubles and heartache. But beyond it all… God is still on His throne and in control and those who put their trust in Jesus can rest comfortably knowing their ultimate future is secure.
There are many people around you in our society confused and afraid. You don’t want to add to that fear by panicking yourself, but rather stay calm and assure others there is safety in Christ Jesus. Educate yourself about coronavirus and don’t spread falsehoods that stoke fear.
I don’t know what kinds of trials we will face in the coming days and months, but I know this. Whatever happens, I will continue to trust God and follow His leading to do the things I’ve been called to do.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam and
the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”