Peace in the Panic
We’re in some really odd times. Does anyone else feel like this COVID-19 outbreak isn’t real? Each morning I awake to new information: a country closing down its borders, schools closing for the remainder of the school year, Americans outside of the nation given a timeline to make it back home, LA college dorms turning into hospitals… I could go on and on. None of it feels real. None of it feels, well, at all. This is completely intangible. As President Trump said, “we are at war with an unseen enemy”.
This morning I packed up a good amount of my apartment and threw it into a suitcase, heading out of the state before Georgia makes the decision to shut down, potentially leading to not allow anyone to leave or enter the state borders (a mandatory in-shelter). And as I was driving through downtown Atlanta during rush hour, the thirteenth worst city in the US for traffic (there’s 19,495 cities in our country), I cruised in the same lane on I-85 staying at 70mph. Wildly unheard of: only a handful of cars in sight. “Save Lives Now. Stay Home.” Electronic boards dawn every highway overpass. Something that seemed to be an extreme cold at first is killing tens of thousands across the world and has us locked inside for an uncertain amount of time. I am without work, without a paycheck, but not without peace.
Practice Precaution with Peace
That sounds odd to say. Panic is being spread across the planet. I have no idea how I’m going to pay rent. The film industry has come to a complete close as have many global industries. The other day I sent an email to my landlord asking for forgiveness so that it may not come to a point of eviction when I cannot pay rent. Bustling cities have turned into ghost downs because of an unseen germ. This is a very serious thing. But truthfully, I am at peace. I do not say this to say I have no feelings for those in panic, that I have no emotion towards those who have lost loved ones, lost jobs, or perhaps fell victim to the virus themself. On the contrary, the peaceful state of my soul has me yearning for these people even more so. With every grocery cart I push with gloves, with every stranger lays a six foot distance, my hands have not seen as much soap and sanitizer as they have these past few weeks. How can one care so deeply in dark times yet still feel peace?
The state of your soul does not have to match the state of the world.
I think you can still practice social-distancing with a soul in peace.
This Will Pass
Our life is but a mist in the wind. The pains of today will go just as quick as the blink of an eye. If you look at the trunk of a chopped down tree, you may see your life be less than the width of one ring.
And the coronavirus, but an ant to a plane in the great scheme. This will pass. Although, COVID-19 will inadvertently affect you in some way, it’s all out of your control and will soon come to an end. To worry about what is out of your control is to create uncontainable stress, therefore to worry about what lay tomorrow is to waste the time given to you at present. And as we all know, we have all been blessed with very much time recently. But, that’s for a different blog.
Care and Worry Do Not Coexist
To care is not the same to worry. Learn the difference for yourself.
James 4:13-15 “ Come now, you who say ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year and trade and make a profit’ — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”
I say, live in today, but do not live in the panic. This soon will pass. What good does panic serve? If the Lord wills, then His Will will pass.
You cannot control what you did not create.
The definition of panic is: “sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior.” To believe that the world will end because of this virus is to cause wildly unthinking behavior. Possibly causing you to break into an office and rob them of their toilet paper. (True story, happened to a colleague of mine.) Or causing you to stab a man in the grocery store with a wine bottle for the last case of water. (Also, true story.)
Now, I know with each day we come closer to the world ending or us, ending. If we truly believe we are reaching a destination of our end or the end, we must not let our fear cause wildly unthinking behavior, but rather we must find peace within the storm for the approaching time, then adjust our lifestyle accordingly. To worry about the time at hand is not the same to care for it.
In worry, we find fear. In care, we find peace.
What a shame it would be to be fearfully chasing your tail in panic for the end time to draw near. What a blessing it is to live in this given time, with peace, preparing for the future in the regard of “if the Lord wills, we will live”. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34.
You can still have peace applying hand sanitizer once an hour. You can still have peace and check the grocery store every morning for toilet paper. To have peace is not to be without precaution. It is to practice precaution, knowing the sincerity of the event, but not letting said event control your life.
Every Day: Do Not Be Afraid
I’ve heard this said before by pastors and even Khalid, God bless his talent, that the Bible says “Do not be afraid” 365 times. That is one time for every day for a year, and the year after that, and the year after that, and the year after that. We are never called to be afraid, but rather to be strong and courageous. Through every season and event in life.
“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.
So don’t be afraid; you are (more) valuable to God
than a whole flock of sparrows.”
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Do Not Worry
Matthew 6:25, 31-33
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’…Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Where is God in This?
Right next to you.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us...
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Live, Now, in Peace
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful."
Applications to Find Peace
-Read The Bible
-Download the Calm app
-Put down your phone, turn it off!
-Read a happy book
-Watch a Robin Williams film
-Pick up a new hobby
-Stop watching the news
-Go hug a family member
-Get lots of rest
We’ve got this, guys. Don’t let the panic of the world set into your heart. Take precaution, walk with care, and live in peace. This soon, will pass.