Whether you’re healthy or sick, overstocked on toilet paper or running low, still working from home or not working at all; God might not feel all that present in these circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic is uncharted territory for the entire world. It seems like there is nowhere to go in the midst of this chaos. This has caused many to panic or fall numb to our situation.
The truth: humans need a norm. From infancy to adulthood, we need an idea of what to expect and what is to be expected of us. We like to know what to do and when to do it. We feel in control when things go as we predicted, whether you consider yourself a person of faith or not. But the coronavirus has upended all sense of normalcy. This invisible threat has altered every aspect of our lives, and we have no way of knowing when this “new normal” will end.
Many of us have lost our sense of direction, purpose and, mainly, hope. There are too many questions and not enough answers, so we take matters into our own hands.
According to the CDC, our brain goes through three stages when making a decision during a crisis: denial, deliberation and decisive action. While this may not be an immediate emergency like an office fire or a heart attack, we are all responding similarly to this slow-building viral spread and it is taking a toll on us physically, psychologically and spiritually.
For some of us, this pandemic is too much for our minds to handle so we decide to do as little as possible. This can look like tuning out most of what we see and hear, denying as much as possible of our present reality and walking (or sitting) around aimlessly because having no expectations is better than having expectations that aren’t met.
Others of us go into panic and overwork. We go into hyperdrive and buy too much, watch too much, do too much, thinking that the best way to handle this is to outdo each other and ourselves.
The problem is both of these responses leave little room for faith in God’s sovereignty and wisdom.
So the question is what do we believe? And what do we do? We have never seen anything like this before. For many of us, the Church is where we would find solace and peace in the midst of chaos. But our regular gatherings have been altered, which can make even the most devout believer doubtful and fearful that God has been altered by this virus too.
As uncertain as these times are, here are some steps to help our wavering faith.
God’s word still reigns true. He is never changing (Mal. 3:6). He is ruler of all things “visible and invisible” (Col. 1:16). And He is with us “even until the end of the age” (Matt 28:20). It is easy to forget who God is when we are overwhelmed. His Word is how God reminds us of who He is and who He is in control of: everyone and everything.
Pray specifically. For people, for communities, for physical and psychological health. Pray for deliverance and salvation. Pray out loud or write them down. Pray outside of you. When we focus our prayers on the needs of others we realize how small we are, and how big God is. And we remember that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we could ask or think (Eph. 3:20).
No matter what our job status is, our purpose remains the same, to love the least of these. We are examples of Christ’s love when we love like Christ did. This does not mean being outside more than advised or gathering together. But this does mean we seek to foster community in other ways. Make concerted efforts to call, text and video chat one another. If you can, lend a helping hand. Picking up groceries or medication for those unable to do it themselves is a great way to show care, but be sure to use wisdom.
Remember this fact: while God may not feel real right now, He is. And we are still in His care. And in His loving mercy, we are able to get through these uncertain days one step at a time, together.