How are we doing, after a couple of weeks “sheltering in place?”
Thanks for these thoughts to Douglas Jacoby’s podcast, from which the notes below are taken, posted March 13, 2020 on www.douglasjacoby.com for subscribers to his International Teaching Ministry. Many of us have been isolating for a while now and cabin fever may be setting in.
Psalm 112: 4-9 (NIV; we’ve changed the pronouns to the feminine in this citation below for our readers)
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous person. Good will come to her who is generous and lends freely, who conducts her affairs with justice. Surely she will never be shaken, a righteous person will be remembered forever. She will have no fear of bad news; her heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Her heart is secure, she will have no fear; in the end she will look in triumph on her foes. She has scattered abroad her gifts to the poor, her righteousness endures forever.”
As the days wear on in quarantine, the news drones on. We pray for people who are critically ill, friends and family members who are on the front lines, treating COVID-19 patients, people who have been laid off. We now know names of people who have died. As this strange new “normal” continues, Douglas’ matter-of-fact advice is reassuring:
Be careful not to overreact. Panic in the Bible is always a bad thing, associated with those who do not worship the true God. If we are feeling anxious, tempted to hoard grocery items, to forward alarmist e mails, to gossip about the latest conspiracy theories -- take comfort in the Psalms, read Philippians and Colossians and pray through these scriptures, asking the God of peace for relief and protection. Remember that not everything you read online is accurate (Douglas found one site which claimed that daily deaths in China, from any and all causes, are 890 million! If that were true, the day after tomorrow there would be no Chinese left.)
Do be attuned to others’ anxiety and vulnerability. We may have an opportunity to serve elderly neighbors by offering to shop for them; we may find greater opportunities for spiritual conversation as people are more sensitive to their helplessness and mortality.
Care deeply about others, not just ourselves. You may be a carrier of the virus even though you are not affected. You may have noticed cold-hearted comments on social media about immigrants and refugees: disciples of Jesus Christ are to love and care for the alien, that is a biblical theme in both Old and New Testaments. Remember that many nations in the world are constituted from immigrants and refugees.
Don’t blame God for sending a plague on the world. This virus is part of nature, which is created with perils. Jesus commented on tragic events that took place in the first century in Luke 13:1ff. He discourages us from trying to link catastrophic events with people’s righteousness or morality. We live in a naturally dangerous world.
It may help to demystify the nomenclature for COVID-19:
CO is from corona (Latin word for crown or halo, this virus looks a bit like a crown)
VI is from virus (Latin word for slime or poison)
D is for disease
-19 is because this particular form of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was first identified at the end of 2019.
It is also known as the novel corona virus; SARS-2.
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