No matter where we turn, somebody is talking or writing about the Coronavirus, a pandemic that has affected everyone, everywhere. If we pay attention to the media, which is almost impossible to avoid unless we “lock down” our computers, televisions and cell phones, then we start and end our day accumulating statistics, how many are sick, how many died, how many made it through and were released from quarantine. And, in the process, no small amount of anxiety is generated, if not for ourselves, then for relatives, friends, neighbors and co-workers who are over a certain age, have a certain medical history that puts them at risk, or are alone in their homes. It’s amazing how a tiny bug, unseen except under a microscope, has turned the world on its head. It’s amazing how, in what appears to be almost an overnight phenomena, everything that was part and parcel of our daily, normal routine has been put on “hold”. Well, almost everything. There is still the arena or circus of politics that seems to be on an endless struggle for power and supremacy. Even though most of the verbal assaults have now diminished, they have been replaced by in-fighting. But, that’s another story. It will continue long after the Coronavirus becomes a history lesson.
Still, we are now all facing a common enemy, small and ruthless, crossing national barriers with ease, seeking whom to devour. In the process of the battle, many have been sidelined in different ways. Some were laid off from work, with or without pay. Some were fired from their jobs. Some businesses closed their doors and may not be able to open them again. Some have becomes victims of the tiny virus, or are related or close to someone who has. Others have been killed. We don’t all experience the battle the same way. Some stand out and take risks to protect others – the heroes on the front lines: medical personnel, ambulance drivers, hospital support staff. Others continue to process daily needs like food, medicines and other essential services, such as police and firemen. Then there are those in uniform, who serve 24/7, so that we can have one less anxiety in the midst of many and so that we can sleep at night, because they remain alert and “on the walls” to protect us. There are those who use the media to continue to teach, so that their students would continue to learn. There are those who entertain from their homes the children who are stuck at home. Still others try to cope by keeping themselves as busy as possible without leaving home – catching up on correspondence, Skyping or Zooming with others, organizing (I know that for some this is an almost forgotten word!), reading, catching up on movies that they wanted to see, but never made time to do so.
We tend to fall into different categories of responders: those who are anxious, those who are semi-anxious, those who simply don’t know how to get a handle on what’s going on and those who make every effort to be in control, or at least give the appearance that they are in control. But, the reality of the situation is that we are learning, some quickly, some more slowly, that we are definitely not in control. And for some, this is the major source of their anxiety.
It’s time to realize that we have been given an opportunity to consider, or reconsider, priorities in our lives – the things that will matter today, tomorrow and ten years from now. For example, things that are true will always remain true. Undoubtedly, some might say that truth is relative. But, relative to what or to whom? What is the standard by which we measure truth? If someone says that there is no absolute standard, then we could rightly question whether or not that is a true statement. We should have the same perspective regarding things that are honorable, or right, or pure. We can reflect on things that are lovely – things that we enjoy seeing, people that we enjoy being with (even though they may be at a distance from us). Or, things that are of a good repute – people or things concerning which we have a high opinion. We have an opportunity to strive to do the best with what we have, to leave the mania and mentality of mediocrity and strive for excellence in whatever we are doing. We have an opportunity to commend, rather than to condemn. While not being exclusive, these things will help us to deal with anxiety (Proverbs 12:25 – “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.”; 2 Samuel 22:31 – “The Word of the LORD is tested; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.”)
This coming week we will be celebrating the Feast of Passover where the question is asked: “Why is this night different from all other nights?” Well, there’s certainly a lot to say about this, particular Passover being different! I’ll deal with that in a separate post. But, the point to remember for now is that the Israelites were slaves to a ruthless taskmaster. Still, no matter how ruthless he was, he was no match for the God of all creation. They were kept safe and were freed from slavery by faith expressed in action.
We don’t have to be slaves to fear, to our governments or to the Cononavirus. We have not been given spirits of fear, but of boldness and a sound mind. Like the Israelites of old, when the plague passes, we will open our doors and experience freedom from slavery. But, our freedom should not mean that we are free to do whatever we want, or that each one can do what is right in his own eyes. Our lives will forever be changed and we will reflect on things as pre-Coronavirus and post-Coronavirus. Will we go back to doing the same things we did before, with the same attitudes and for the same, self-centered reasons? Has v’halilah! (May it never be!)
Social distancing may still be the norm of the day, but in the midst of confinement, we have an opportunity to experience things that are beyond what we can ask or think. “Call upon Me and I will answer you and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3) “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.” (Isaiah 30:18)
In these days of turmoil and uncertainty, may we learn that we don’t have to let anxiety weigh us down and we CAN experience victory over it. Hear a Sabbath prayer: “The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.” (Numbers 6:26) He’s the only One who can.
Be well, bless, be blessed and be a blessing.
Have a great week.