We’ve been thrust into the most life altering scenario the world has seen since the second world war. We are isolated and stuck behind our own doors. Our commerce has ground to an eerie stillness with the streets of Times Square empty and Vegas’ casinos silent. Jobs are being lost by the millions. And the stock market staggers like a cornered boxer. It may seem the only thing to do is to ride out the storm, hunkered down, watching the drama play out before us on the tube. But there is a more proactive way for us to engage this catastrophe. In fact, our world needs us to show a different way. I propose six meaningful actions we can engage in to help our country at this time.
First, abide by the government’s call to social distancing and shelter in place. This one might be obvious, but it needs to be repeated because it is against our nature and our habits to hunker down when the weather is pleasant, and when we are feeling lonely. By choosing to participate in these guidelines, we are placing the lives of the vulnerable and elderly above our own convenience and pleasure. These actions touch the heart of God, who, when He walked among us, stopped to notice and heal the poor and paralyzed when others had learned to just walk past (Luke 5:18).
Second, connect with our neighbors and friends. Let us look out for one another at this time. Pick up the phone and call the one that might be lonely. Video chat with the friend that is working double time at the hospital. Wash your hands, and then drop off a letter at your neighbors’ houses asking for their phone numbers so you all can support one another. Maybe one person can’t find eggs, but someone else has a surplus. We can join together, and make sure that no one is left behind.
Third, fight your anxiety and fear. This might not seem important for the wellbeing of our nation, but it actually is. When you are gripped with fear, the best we can muster is entertaining ourselves, griping to one another, and judging those that aren’t doing what they are supposed to. We become the worst versions of ourselves. Rather, we must identify our fears, and those activities that cause them. And begin to diffuse them. One powerful way to do this is through our fourth action.
Pray for ourselves, and against the pandemic. Have you discovered the powerful freedom available through Philippians 4:6-7? “Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Tell God what you are feeling. Be honest with your struggles. And then thank Him that you are alive. Thank Him for all the ways He has protected you in your life. Thank Him that we are going to make it through this, and even grow stronger in our faith because of it. How do you know if you’ve really prayed through your fears? Just like when you know your purchase went through when you are given a receipt, so when you’ve prayer through these challenges, you receive the peace of God in your heart. This is your receipt from the Lord.
Fifth, redeem the time. It is a joy to relax with an entertaining show or book. But let us also spent some time in producing in addition to our consuming. What skill can we learn or develop? Can we write a story, sing a song, knit a hat, build a bookshelf or plant a garden? When we’ve spent some time making or learning something, we have a greater sense of satisfaction at the end of the day. And we reflect part of the creative nature of our God.
Sixth, share the hope you have in the Gospel. Finally, let us look for opportunities to proclaim that there is more to this life than that which has been taken from us. When the false hopes of money, and work, and social connection and politics have failed us, the follower of Jesus still has hope. We believe that we were made for more than this world and that one day we will get to experience the fullness of life as it was designed to be, free from sin, illness, fear and death, because of the forgiveness and eternal life that was purchased for us through the blood of Jesus Christ. That is a bright hope in midst of a dark time. And there are many that could use some hope right now.
Together in the Journey,
Fr. Cam Lemons