Courage in the Middle of Crisis
A few months ago, I was reading a book whose main characters had had their entire lives impacted by World War II - and I was thinking about how little disruption I've experienced in my own life.
I have made plans and pursued them, with few limitations and almost no fear.
It seems that times are changing.
Whether it's media hype, the honest truth, or somewhere in between, perception is reality. This is a phrase that I typically avoid because of its relativistic undertones, but in this case, it’s very accurate. Opinions are irrelevant at this point, our world is grinding to a halt because of the coronavirus. The question on my mind is, “What would God have me do in light of such turmoil?” I have three thoughts:
1. We were vulnerable before the virus; we will be vulnerable after.
There are many people in this world for whom suffering is a daily reality, but for many of us, this virus has been a wake-up call. Our governments, our economies, and our bodies are fragile - a fact we so easily forget. The spread of this virus and the fear that has come with it are a stern reminder of our vulnerability and our need for a deeper hope. It seems that all it takes is a bad flu to dispel the arrogance of secular humanism. Truthfully, we have always been vulnerable. We were before the virus, and we will be after the virus, as well. And if anything good can come from this situation, it’s a visceral sense of our weakness and need for hope beyond ourselves.
2. People are afraid, and God cares about people.
One of the more disappointing dynamics amid this crisis has been the heated exchanges on social media. The battle between the “alarmist” and the “cynic” rages, with both sides hurling insults back and forth. As so often is the case, the truth is likely somewhere in between, and as a follower of Jesus, our response needs to be compassion. People are afraid, and God cares about people. Facts are important and panic rarely helps, but ultimately it is love, not facts, that drives away fear. Our response should not be to mock people who are afraid, nor to minimize their fears, but instead to meet them where they are at. The truth is that a world without God is a scary place! Now more than ever, people need answers, not judgment.
3. Crisis allows us to demonstrate the resilience of our faith!
1 Peter 1:3-15 says, "Always be prepared to give an answer to the hope that is in you, but do so with gentleness and respect." To know there is a deep and lasting hope beyond this life has given followers of Jesus throughout history the unique opportunity to demonstrate the resilience of the Christian worldview. We do not put our hope in our governments, our economies, or even our bodies, for these are weak and imperfect and will ultimately fail. Our hope is in the One who made us. But that doesn't mean we build bunkers and hide out when things get hard - far from it.
The essence of the Gospel is that Jesus entered into our suffering, into the worst of all conditions, and gave Himself for us so that we could be set free. (2nd Corinthians 5:21) Likewise, we need to enter into the mess and embody His love in the middle of the darkness. Following Jesus' example equips us to be powerful agents of hope at the worst of times. As the world continues to descend into chaos, my heart is that the Church would rise up and be bold instruments in the hands of a God who is in control and desires for people to know the truth.
My prayer is that I would be like the monks of the Middle Ages, who risked their own lives to help those suffering from the black plague.
My desire is that God could use my life to bring peace, alleviate fear, and demonstrate a deep hope impervious to the spread of the virus and the fear that so easily consumes us.