Today after dinner I had to run to the lumber store to pick up materials for a project I am working on tomorrow at the house. It was a nice sunny spring afternoon and when I got back home, my beautiful wife and two amazing kids were enjoying the weather out in the front yard. My daughter (2yo) and son (4yo) both came running down saying “daddy!” when I drove into the driveway, even though I had only been gone for an hour. I enjoy their enthusiasm, it never gets old!
As I unloaded the lumber into the garage, there was a large family of 7 or 8 riding by the house on bikes and my son shouted “HELLO!!!” over and over in the most enthusiastic voice and ran out to the edge of the driveway to wave at them all as they rode by. The mom of the family laughed and simply said “people!”
This might seem like an ordinary occurrence with an energetic child and friendly neighbors passing by, but the mom was referring to the fact that none of us have been outside of our houses much in the past month and seeing other humans makes us light up. We all crave the company of other people but many of us have been deprived of that lately because we are all battling a global pandemic. Even the most private and introverted among us still have people we love to be with. We are social creatures. God made us that way. (Acts 2:41-47) The mom who passed by our house was just pointing out how happy my son was to see PEOPLE!
It has taken me awhile to collect my thoughts on what to write about on this topic. Lately so much focus has been placed on the negativity of Coronavirus / COVID-19, the origin, the contagion, the sickness, and the mortality. It’s easy to get consumed by the constant barrage of information that comes to us from every point of digital media. It’s almost overwhelming every time you pick up your phone or turn on your TV. Watching the bad news from around the world is surreal. But humans have dealt with large-scale sickness before, it is nothing new. What makes this one different is not only the communicability and severity of the virus, but the visibility of it all. Around the globe, we are significantly more informed now than during past episodes — and that knowledge will save lives, so that is a very positive thing.
This article is meant to be a step back. A pause to look at the world differently for a moment. Here is what I will cover:
- Bring the Word
- Fear is a Cage
- God Protects
- Time Heals
- Laughter is Medicine
Bring the Word.
If you feel overwhelmed and helpless you aren’t alone. Many in the media are comparing this illness to wars, epidemics, terrorist acts, and major catastrophes of the past. They say this generation will remember it forever. Whether that is true or not, it is important to keep in mind that God is greater than all of those things and cares deeply for you and I.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.Isaiah 55:8-12 NIV
The only thing that will bring peace to an upset world is the Word of God.
God’s ways are higher than our ways, and when we speak His Word, it never returns empty. When we meditate on it, there is always abundance and never lack or emptiness. I love the verbal imagery in verse 12 “..you will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
That is definitely a vivid mind picture for us to look forward to!
When King David wrote the Psalms, you could see his respect and love for the scripture. He loved to study and preach the Word and gave God praise:
Your word to me, your servant, is like pure gold; I treasure what you say.Psalm 119:140 CEV
God is greater than any illness or pandemic. His Word promises healing, protection, strength, and comfort.
You and I need to hear this so we can feel better, but more importantly we need to remind our friends that the same God who created us also cares for us and wants nothing more than excellent health. (III John 1:2)
When the Word of God is spoken, things get better.
Fear is a Cage.
In the African Savanna when a lion roars, the prey freezes. Does the roar itself cause harm? (It is only sound waves after all.)
No, the roar causes no harm.. but the teeth do! The lion roars to freeze its prey in fear so that temporary paralysis can be used for capture. Hearing the roar does nothing if the animal knows the truth: as long as you avoid the teeth, the roar is completely helpless.
How does that apply to fear of sickness? Our hearts go out to the many who have died and those who are still fighting for their lives. The temptation is to fear that we could end up there. It’s natural to think that way; self preservation is one of the most fundamental instincts of animals and humans alike. (what that fear has to do with hoarding toilet paper I’m not sure, but I digress..)
What does God say about fear?
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:I Peter 5:8 KJV
The analogy of the roaring lion is exactly how the devil operates. His motives are to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) but when those motives and purposes are prevented by the power of God, he will still do his best to make you fearful and steal your happiness. This is only a roar.
It is wise to practice good physical hygiene, to reasonably distance ourselves from other people when out in public, and to wash our hands regularly. These are good habits even when the world is healthy. Exactly when to get back to normal work and play is a discussion for another time… But should we live our lives in constant fear? The book of Proverbs provides some insight into this question:
The fear of mankind is a snare, but the one who trusts in the LORD is protected.Proverbs 29:25 Christian Standard Version
Fear is a snare. It is the snare that traps the prey for the lion, and it is fear that traps our mental state and steals our joy. You don’t have to put up with it. Pray and ask God to take your fear away and He absolutely will!
You do not need to live in constant fear.
Should we self-isolate? Should we wash our hands? Should we cancel social gatherings for awhile and stay home? Yes. Statistics say that is the best way to avoid spreading Coronavirus and it will save lives.
Should we be miserable and fearful while we do it? Should we look sideways at everyone in public like they are a zombie looking to infect us?
Mark Twain may have said it best:
“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”Mark Twain
Telling yourself to “not be afraid” doesn’t really work all that well either. The best way to eliminate fear is to replace those negative thoughts with something better. This is my favorite “replacement” verse:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.II Timothy 1:7
Instead of fear, God provides us with power, love, and a sound mind to replace it. That sounds much better.
Fear is like a cage or snare and it does not come from God. Stop living in fear immediately, and believe what God says instead.
These days there is judgement on every side. Everyone seems to think they are an epidemiologist with a minor in psychology because they read some things on the Internet. People judge the president. They judge the governors. They judge the pastors. They judge the elderly person with a face mask on. They judge the young person without a face mask on. They judge the person who is still working because they are an “essential employee” and judge the person who is staying home.
I think we can all use a little grace right now. (Luke 6:37)
The things that you feel and the experiences you are having right now are being felt by everyone. That is both the worst and the best thing about it. For most of us, this is perhaps the worst thing we have seen in our lifetimes. This can cause all of us to feel a little grumpy at times.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.Philippians 2:14 ESV
The fact that we are all going through this together is also bringing out the best in people all around the world. Families are connecting again at home. Communities are helping each other (even if at a distance.) We are finding new ways to innovate with technology. Neighbors are checking in on each other. Teachers are still teaching students over video conferencing. And many of us finally have time to clean the garage or get to that project at home you wanted to do “someday.” Let me remind you that someday is here, and we all have a limited amount of “somedays” so make it count. Do what you can. Life is too short to be judging everyone all the time.
This verse in Philippians encourages us to shine as lights in the world, holding fast the Word of Life (the Word that brings Life) and that is the best way to avoid being too critical of people. If we are others-focused, we tend to forget about our own problems and just “give.”
It is easy to become concerned that we might get sick during a pandemic, but take comfort in knowing that your creator loves you and protects you. God has your back. In the book of Samuel, God watched out for David:
My God is my rock — I take refuge in Him; My shield, and the horn of my salvation My high tower, and my refuge! My Saviour, from violence Thou savest me!2 Samuel 22:3 Young’s Literal Translation
In this verse, “rock” indicates God’s support and defense of his people — just as a house built on a rock is held up sturdily. (Jesus Christ alluded to this principle in Matthew 7:24)
“I take refuge in him” – This phrase is analogous to a large majestic bird covering its young hatchlings with mighty wings. No matter the weather or the predator, the babies are just fine. We are sheltered under God’s protection the same way that a parent diligently protects their children in nature.
“the horn of my salvation” – In the Bible, the horn is a symbol of strength and triumph. It means “deliverer of my salvation” here in the context.
“My high tower” – Both in Bible times when cities were built, and in military strategy it is always preferred to have the high ground. When you are above the enemy you have the advantage of sight, the advantage of gravity, and the advantage of protection. David is saying that God is his high tower, secure retreat, or stronghold just like a city set on a hill.
The context of this verse in the second book of Samuel is how God literally protected David from his enemies but it can also be considered in the context of God’s protection in other categories as well. What God did for David, he will do for us. It does not matter whether our enemy is like Saul’s army fighting with David or an invisible virus.
Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.Deuteronomy 31:6 NASB
God Protects. Trust and accept his protection.
It may be difficult to imagine now, but just as with every illness to ever affect humankind, this will pass. There will come a day when this pandemic is only a distant memory and we no longer worry about it from day to day.
Have you ever gotten a papercut? They are a tiny injury as far as cuts go, but they hurt terribly. What happens after a week or two? One day you will look at your finger and there will be no sign of the cut at all, just a scar. God designed our bodies to heal that way. The scar still reminds you of the injury, but the pain no longer affects your everyday life once it heals.
Our minds work in a similar way. While we may still have the memory, the mental pain fades, and even completely disappears eventually. This takes time but we will all see that day. I hope you remember this article and come back to read it when that happens. I bet you will be in a different state of mind next time.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.Romans 8:18 CSB
When we consider the length of “forever,” this current oppression fades in importance to the magnitude of eternal life through the salvation of Jesus Christ. The glory that will be revealed in us far exceeds the comparatively trivial earthly obstructions that we face in our day and time. This is not to say that the enemy we currently face is not worth considering and being mindful of. It is also not diminishing the importance and value of those around the world who died from this disease or those who are still battling for wellness. But instead, it is a refocusing of our attention on the long term thoughts of the Creator and the return of His son, Jesus Christ.
With the future unclear for so many, God’s salvation has never been more important than now. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trusting God and becoming born again if you aren’t already. The book of Romans shows the simplicity of salvation:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.Romans 10:9 NIV
It is simple to become a child of God. Just declare and believe. As children of God, we have eternal protection just like the bird covering its children with mighty wings.
If you are sick or in need of healing, God promises that too. In the Bible, Jesus Christ healed multitudes of people
And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.Matthew 14:14 KJV
The way to learn about God’s healing is through the records in The Word
He sent his word, and healed them..Psalm 107:20 KJV
The Word heals, so share it and believe that God will heal you.
Laughter is Medicine
A merry heart does good, like medicine…Proverbs 17:22 NKJV
One of the greatest joys in life is laughter. It’s rarely ever planned, but we will often find ourselves among friends, sitting there with a smile and sore stomach muscles from the funny stories and jokes that make us laugh every time we get together. This is one of the great results of fellowship and is by God’s design. Laughter is like medicine.
We are all looking forward to more laughter and joy. For now, that joy doesn’t necessarily have to be in person.
In the meantime, I highly recommend watching comedy shows, telling jokes, and finding a way to connect, lighten up, and laugh. It’s literally good for your health!
A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.Proverbs 15:13 NKJV
We have all had enough sorrow for awhile, how about a good laugh today?
What did we cover?
Bring the Word. — We will never be disappointed when we study, learn, understand, and share about God and His Word. The world needs it more than ever.
Fear is a Cage. — Just like the roar of the lion, fear is threatening but harmless of itself. Take precautions to stay healthy, but kick out the fear and live a life of freedom and joy.
Judgement? — There is enough of that in the world, compassion and love goes a lot farther.
God Protects. — We do not need to worry or be anxious. God wants us to be healthy and prosperous. Trust and believe that promise from the scripture and know that He has your back.
Time Heals. — We will all get through this together. Do everything in your power to stay healthy and well, but look forward to the day when this is nothing more than a scar and the pain is gone forever.
Laughter is Medicine. — The power of a good laugh can never be underestimated. Find the joy and happiness in laughter.
God Bless You!
An original teaching from May, 2020 Scripture references KJV or otherwise noted [brackets indicate my comments]