Coronavirus — The Fear is Real. And That’s Okay.

These are strange and uncertain times. In the last few weeks the world has experienced something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime: a pandemic. I understand that this is not the first pandemic the world has seen. I also understand that the potential for a pathogen to emerge has always been present. But since the development of antibiotics and strong sanitation practices, I didn’t think we would see infectious disease on this scale any time soon.

In a matter of weeks, the country has basically shut down. Many companies are closed. Several states are under Shelter in Place orders, including Illinois. People find themselves unable to travel and unable to gather. Even churches are closed by government order. I have never seen anything like this in my life.

Looking at the news is not for the faint of heart. From reports of new cases to the increasing death toll, from reports of economic hardship to forecasts of massive layoffs, there is plenty of anxiety to go around.

I’ve felt it. Most people have. People fear becoming sick with COVID-19. People fear job loss and the pandemic’s effect on the economy. People even fear the effect the pandemic will have on society. Honestly, I understand these fears. Suddenly the dystopian future novels I enjoy so much don’t seem so far removed from our present reality. The fear is absolutely real.

Not only is it real, the fear is intense. People are hoarding food and cleaning supplies. Who knew that toilet paper would suddenly a precious commodity? Times are uncertain and changing by the day. We worry about today, but we’re terrified about tomorrow.  

Reports this weekend predict that the next two weeks will be extremely deadly. People will lose loved ones. This is in addition to the record unemployment. Stores in many states are closed, and many will not reopen due to the financial strain. On so many fronts, it seems the worst  is yet to come. That is a very scary thing.

It has been both interesting and frustrating to observe various Christian responses to this. In Florida, a pastor was arrested for holding services despite government orders not to gather in large groups. Some Christian leaders are speaking negatively against those who obey the order.

People are scared. That is completely understandable. I went to Target recently and came back home shook. I’m not leaving again until this COVID-19 thing is under control.

When I sat down to write this blog post I’d just read Matthew 6:32-33, where Jesus says not to worry about our needs because God knows them and he will provide. Rest assured, dear reader, this is not a post where I proclaim that everyone who worries commits a sin. This is not a post where I say to disregard guidance from medical and government officials. This is not a post where I tell you not to worry because God will take care of everything with no action on our part.

Truth is, I’m worried myself. I’m worried about my company and my job. I worry about my husband every time he leaves the house. I’m worried about the disintegration of the fabric of society. I’m worried about a whole lot of things. And I think many out there are, too.

I think it’s foolish and insensitive to berate people for worrying. People, lots of them, are facing very difficult circumstances. Don’t tell them not to worry. You might get cut. Or coughed on. I’m not sure which would be worse at this point.

There is so much to worry about. And when I read Jesus’ admonition against worry, I felt a bit of hope. I felt comfort in his words. It made me slow down long enough to think, maybe things will be okay. That’s as close to not worrying I can come right now and I think that’s enough.

I honestly think the best thing we can do is be kind to one another and take care of one another. We can offer hope to each other. We can lift each other up. We can encourage. We can give. We can pray. And we can stay home

It’s a scary time.  To deny this is a waste of everyone’s time. My purpose in coming to writing today is to acknowledge that the fear is real… but so is hope.

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