Covid-19. Coronavirus. These are terms with which we have all become familiar in the last few months, in the last few weeks.
Covid-19 strikes fear in our hearts and in our minds. We have learned new terms such as social distancing. We find ourselves going back to the basics, learning how to entertain ourselves in our own homes without the normal entertainment opportunities.
Theories about this virus abound. Is it something that was destined to happen at some time similar to the great plagues of the past? Is it a conspiracy to take out the United States, to make us dependent upon our government so they can take over our healthcare system, our lives? Is the government truly working for our good? Is the media fueling the chaos with its reporting? Is it truly as bad as they lead us to believe?
So many questions and so few answers. But there is one common theme amongst us: FEAR.
I am a Registered Nurse Case Manager at a small orthopedic hospital in Oklahoma City. I would say approximately 90% of our surgical cases are elective. The surgeon general recommended last week that all elective surgeries are canceled until this pandemic is over.
Yesterday, I went to work as I normally do. Shortly after I arrived, I received the word that all elective surgeries would indeed be stopped for the time. That means the hospital doesn’t need a full staff, can’t afford to pay a full staff. My co-workers and I will be rotating our days and taking paid time off (PTO) for the foreseeable future.
I only have enough PTO to get me through about two weeks.
At the end of two weeks, I don’t know what will happen. I hold out hope that our government will pass the stimulus bill that will provide funds for small business to continue to pay employees like me, but they can’t seem to get past their partisan politics and come together for the good of the country. If the hospital would lay me off, I could at least draw unemployment benefits. Right now, I am simply in limbo, not knowing what the future holds.
There’s no doubt as a registered nurse, I can FIND a job. However, my current job has me in a very low-risk environment. Although I can find a job making really good money, it also puts me on the front lines of fighting this virus. Not only will I be exposed, but I will no doubt be exposing my family, putting them at risk. I will be forced to isolate myself from them until such as time as I can be assured I have not contracted this virus.
It is alive and well in my heart, in my home.
Yet, I hear my Father say, “Faith over fear, my sweet daughter. Faith over fear.”
Oh, those sweet words whispered by my Father! Yes, our faith must be strong enough to carry us through this pandemic, through the chaos that swirls around us. Our faith must carry us through the unknown as we navigate these waters. We must again learn to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
So, how do we walk by faith and not fear in this new world?
Remember God’s past faithfulness. I was actually enjoying our sheltering in place life before my finances were impacted. My oldest is suddenly home from college. The younger two are out of school. (Sadly, my senior is missing the last quarter of his senior year and all of the big events that go along with it.) But, we are making the most of our time together. We are playing games together as a family. We are sitting down at the table together in ways we haven’t been able to do. We are talking about life, about our past, about our future. We are doing things we wouldn’t normally do—things such as Roy allowing Cassie to shave him bald.
We are laughing together and remembering what it is to be a family.
So why did fear suddenly overtake me when our finances were impacted? I don’t know why money is such a security issue for me, but that’s where fear hits me…. every single time.
God has always been so faithful to me, providing the manna I need just when I need it. He took my finances from non-existent to doubling, tripling my income in a very short time when I became a single mom. He provided a place for my kids and me to live when we didn’t have the money to keep a roof over our heads. He’s provided the unexpected $100 to pay for the kids’ activities at just the right time. He sent an unexpected generous gift that was the exact amount needed to pay for my daughter’s braces.
He has been so incredibly faithful. Never once have we had a need He didn’t meet. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17). He was faithful yesterday and He will be faithful today.
I will choose to remember His faithfulness, His character that promises to always care for the needs of His children.
Focus our minds on the truths of God’s Word. So often, I find my mind wandering, focusing on the circumstances around me. That’s when my heart gets anxious, when I allow fear to overtake faith.
God’s Word brings peace. When we focus our hearts and minds on the Father, on His words to us, we find His perfect peace floods our hearts and minds (Isaiah 26:3). When we meditate on things that are lovely and noble and true and right and excellent and praiseworthy, His peace that surpasses all understanding overtakes our lives and chases out all fear (Philippians 4:6-8). When we choose to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, we find God’s good and perfect will (Romans 12:2).
What does this look like in a practical way? When I find myself thinking about the circumstances around me, I must repent and turn to God. I can pray and ask Him to renew my mind. I can choose to quote scriptures in my head or say them out loud, scriptures that encourage faith over fear. I can think about God’s past faithfulness in my life and recount the stories of how He has cared for me. I can change the things I think about so that my mind is encouraged in the present.
Maybe we need some notecards with scriptures placed in strategic places. Maybe we need to carry those cards with us so we always have them available. Maybe we need an accountability partner to remind us to think the way He wants us to. Whatever it takes, replace the fear with the truth of God’s Word and His character.
Seek a new perspective. The media would have us believe we are all doomed, life will never be the same. It’s easy to get so bogged down with the news that we are being fed 24/7/365. We hear the media’s perspective, but is it the only perspective?
I’m trying to find the good in this chaos. I’m trying to find ways this sheltering in place can bring good things because we known all things work together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
I possibly have some extended time off work which I haven’t really had in a long time (unless I was having surgery). What will an extended vacation do for me?
It gives me time to slow down and focus on God and family.
It’s a time where I can learn to put financial security in its proper place rather than making it an idol in my life.
It’s a time to focus on my hopes and dreams rather than being consumed with work and the cares of this life.
When I told my kids about the change in our finances, they immediately focused on using the time to grow my ministry. Ultimately, the financial aspect of my ministry is in God’s hands—just as I said in my blog post two weeks ago. Honestly, the timing of all of these changes are not lost on me as I wonder how some recent financial issues He has placed on my heart recently are intertwined. Perhaps God is working in this chaos to do something only He can do.
While this is definitely a time of uncertainty and change, I am firmly convinced my God is still in control. As we navigate these waters of chaos, I encourage you to remember how He has always been faithful. I encourage you to turn your heart and mind toward Him and the promises in His word. I ask you to look for a new perspective, His perspective, in the midst of your circumstances.
We will see His faithfulness again. We will live to see the Promises fulfilled on the other side of the wilderness.
Father God, this is a time of such fear and uncertainty. We know you are not the author of fear but of peace. As we walk through these tumultuous storms that are impacting every part of our lives, help us to remember you are the same forever and always, you never change even when the world crumbles around us. I ask for an extra dose of your perfect peace for every person reading these words. I pray you would show us your perspective in the midst of the storm. Give us the courage to face the storm and walk through it until we see your promises fulfilled on the other side. You are God and you are still in control. And for that, we praise you.