CORONAVIRUS: fighting the fear
There are very few people, particularly in the West, who can remember a time of upheaval like this. In Europe it has been 75 years since life was disrupted so thoroughly and suddenly. In the States arguably it is even longer - the Great Depression - since a nation-wide event has affected so many so suddenly.
Selfishness or fear?
It is not surprising then that so many people are reacting with fear and concern. It is not surprising that they are trying to do something to control what is going on around them. It is not surprising that shelves in supermarkets are being emptied.
Because what else do people feel they can do?
I have seen a number of people post pictures on various social media platforms pictures of these empty shelves. Many of them have been from Christians, and many of them have had some comment underneath about the selfishness and foolishness of those who have emptied the shelves.
Yes, it is shocking to see the way some people have stockpiled; it is also shocking to see the apparent selfishness of others.
But in none of these posts have I seen any hint of compassion for the people who have such a level of fear and anxiety that they feel they must clear the shelves.
The foundations of our way of life have been shaken to the core. The certainty that we have all had about where our food will come from has, for some, disappeared. For some it may be they are spending money when they are not sure there will be another pay packet. For others it could be that they are concerned that self-isolation, combined with a lack of supportive local community, will result in hunger for them and their loved ones.
Our response as the Church is twofold:
Yes, we should point out that we need to take care of each other, and that part of that involves being responsible in the way we shop. We should do this strongly and with conviction.
But we should also acknowledge the fear that has crept suddenly and unexpectedly into our lives.
When we interact with those around us, we need to show that we have a faith that holds firm when things seem to be going wrong. We need to call out unfair treatment of others when we see it, but we also need to act with love and compassion.
We need to trust that God has got this.
Philippians 4:6-7 as a refrain, not a platitude.
'Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.' - Philippians 4:6-7
The way we respond to the word is formed by patterns. Is our knee-jerk reaction to the stress and anxiety we see around us to stop, remind ourselves of the reality Scripture points to, and then continue into our day? Or is it shaped by something else?
Make Philippians 4:7 your reactive prayer. When you feel panicked, say it. When you feel worried, say it. When you feel overwhelmed, say it. When we do, we're reminding ourselves of the truth that God has this, and making it a part of our everyday, will not only help us, but allow us to be beacons of calm to those around us.
20 March 2020
Jonny is our Church Resource Officer. Before that he was involved with Youth and Children’s Ministry for 15 years. He lives in York with his lovely wife and son, with another child arriving soon. He loves all things cycling, and is trying to pretend that he could have gone pro if he had just had the chance.
Read more blogs:
This isn't the first time church has had to re-imagine what community looks like. Social distancing and social-isolating is forcing us to creatively do community today.
How we manage our differences on the Brexit debate will determine how we build a better, fairer society. As Christians this gives us an opportunity to put our faith in to action...