I feel so naive right now. And GUILTY.
I am NOT a news watcher, but I heard what was happening in China back in January. I felt a little tug on my heart strings, and being the "good" Christian that I am, I prayed for them. I didn't follow their story more closely until my friends started posting how it was affecting their family on Facebook. Once I saw that people were desperately trying to leave China, I was like, "Wait. This can affect ME." But I still went about my day not really giving it much more thought.
Isn't that how it always goes? We may feel sorry for someone in a bad situation, but until it directly affects us personally, we just don't really truly humble ourselves. I'm feeling the heaviness of that guilt now.
But what good is guilt? I truly believe guilt is one of the ways God speaks to us. God is telling me something.
First of all, He's telling me: YOU WERE WRONG. I was wrong to slough off the hardships of others just because I believed they wouldn't affect me. I was wrong to not dig for more information sooner. I was wrong to not give any real thought to how this could affect me and those around me. You're right God. I was WRONG.
Secondly, He's telling me: DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Once I've accepted that I've made a mistake and given it to God, He immediately takes that guilt and turns it into an opportunity for redemption. Every mistake is a learning experience, if you're willing to use it as one. I like being right, but trying to maintain that position when I'm truly in the wrong just prevents me from ever being right again. I like being right, and for that reason alone, I'm usually the first to admit when I'm wrong so I can go back to being right again. So what can I do about this situation now? What can I do now that COVID-19 has spread to nearly every country of the world in less than 3 months? All I can and ever will be able to do in this life is MY PART.
COVID-19 is a new virus. Scientists are studying it, but varied information is being released. Some are saying it only spreads through droplets and can remain on surfaces for a short amount of time, while others claim it can become an aerosol and remain airborne for 3 hours and live on surfaces even longer. Some are saying it only really affects older people with underlying health conditions, while some reports are showing what are thought to be perfectly healthy young people succumbing to it. Many people are claiming it's not that big of a deal because the number of people it's killing isn't as much as other viruses or diseases. So how afraid of this thing should I be?
VERY. I've seen a lot of my fellow Christians telling others: DO NOT FEAR, PUT YOUR TRUST IN GOD. And that's a very nice sentiment, but some people take things a tad bit too literally, including the Bible. Yes, God tells us to cast all our fears and anxiety on Him, because He is our refuge and our strength! God's love can drive out fear and worry. But we're also told to FEAR GOD, and I don't think we're meant to be afraid of God or not trust in Him, it simply has another meaning: RESPECT. Our fear is a survival mechanism. Remember FIGHT OR FLIGHT? We can use fear to motivate us to have respect for a serious situation and prepare, or we can allow it to cripple us where we take no action and go about our lives as if nothing serious is happening. The age and number of the people being infected or dying shouldn't matter. What matters is it is spreading like crazy and it is killing people, and we currently have no protective measures to fight this thing other than distancing ourselves.
I am not afraid of dying or watching my loved ones die. I mean, don't get me wrong, I don't want to die or watch my loved ones die, but I know that death is not the end of life, and that brings me peace. But I do fear our situation, and by that I mean I simply respect the gravity of this situation caused by this new and unknown culprit. My fear/respect is pushing me to want to FIGHT. I want to do everything in my power to stop it's destruction on the world that I love. So how do I do that? How do I do my part? Here are 3 simple things I think we should all be doing to help flatten the curve until we have a vaccine.
1. STAY HOME! Please for the love of all that is good and holy, don't leave your house unless it's absolutely necessary! I am watching so many of my friends gathering for parties, out shopping for non-essentials, and just going about their lives as usual because this whole social distancing thing is cramping their style! REALLY??? Even if we get to the end of this thing and it isn't as bad as we predict, isn't it worth taking the extra precautions because we should all know by now how bad it COULD get? Aren't the lives of a few thousand elderly people worth us buckling down at home for a few weeks? And do we really want someone we love to need medical attention for something non-virus related and not being able to get it because the hospitals are full? So what are essentials in a time like this? Work, if you gotta (but please use social distancing measures), food (get enough to last a week or two so you aren't out and about every other day), medical care (if you really need it, please don't be going out for well visits or regular dental visits right now if they haven't already stopped you), or to help someone who can't do something themselves (like shut-ins, again still using social distancing measures). THAT'S IT. Yes, it's harsh. Yes, it will hurt. Yes, it's worth it.
2. USE GOOD HYGIENE PRACTICES! Wash your hands! Clean your surfaces! Cough in your elbows! QUARANTINE yourself if you feel even the least bit sick! These are simple good hygienic measures we should all know to take, and yet many of us continue to go to work with fevers and cough all over our hands that we then use to touch everything around us. I understand kids forgetting some of this stuff, but as adults we should be doing a much better job of this. I cringe every time I see a grown person use a public restroom and then leave without washing their hands. And some of y'all are still eating out with these people.
3. BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR! We have been so blessed to have our teachers, coworkers, family, and friends continue to keep in contact with us. Zoom video conferencing has been a wonderful way to get to "see" and chat with a group of people at one time. Send a text or an email. Pick up the phone. And if someone needs something, don't let your survival instinct overcome your faith. God does provide. He is faithful to those who love Him. If you went a little crazy buying toilet paper (which I will never understand), and you know someone who can't find any, please SHARE! The stores are still getting shipments. You will SURVIVE. Or you won't, in which case, if you've given your life to Jesus Christ, you'll end up in heaven where you won't need any toilet paper. Haha!
Look, I'm no expert, but you can go to the WHO or CDC and see all of these same recommendations. Read some of the articles about what we do know about this virus. Familiarize yourself with the trends. Read a few posts from real life people affected around the world. Don't become obsessed and fill your entire day with COVID-19 information, but don't just take my word for it.
We need to RESPECT this situation and the people around us and make better choices while we're still able to. We need to HUMBLE OURSELVES.
I find it no coincidence that our Life App for the month of April in the children's ministry at my church is HUMILITY: putting others first by giving up what you think you deserve. This lesson couldn't have come at a better time. Our world is UPSIDE-DOWN right now. Oddly enough, the theme of our April curriculum is UPSIDE-DOWN: Jesus Changes Everything. Coincidence? I think not.
God is ahead of us every step of the way. He was working on a way out of this situation before we even knew what a Coronavirus was. Just look at Jesus. He was with God in the very beginning, before the first sin ever even happened knowing He would have to come and save us from ourselves.
I used to get upset over the thought of a God over a world where He knows bad stuff is going to happen and still allows it. I had a very clear idea of what I thought life should look like, of what I deserve. But as I've grown in my faith, I've realized that God gave me life and I only deserve to live it with the purpose He intended. Jesus' life was intended to suffer for the sake of something greater than himself. How I can ever believe to be better than Jesus? How can I ever think I deserve a life without suffering or hardship, especially when those are the things that bring us closer to God (which is our sole purpose of existence)?
So now, I look at every day, every situation, literally everything I do as a way to let God fulfill His purpose in me. I know that God is using this situation to humble us. He wants us to put others first. He wants us to put HIM first. And I'm not speaking as some psychic prophet. I believe that God can use EVERY situation in our life to humble us and bring us closer to Him. We need only accept his direction. He's been leading us since the dawn of time, and yet we keep trying to forge our own path, create our own purpose, and exalt ourselves above everyone and everything else around us.
So my prayer today and in the days that follow is that we would open our hearts and our minds to God's Word, which is telling us to humble ourselves and focus on God's presence in our lives. We've been given the perfect opportunity to do just that. Will we listen?