As of March 30th, the total deaths from the coronavirus exceeds 35,000. From people panic-buying paper goods earlier in March to President Trump extending social distancing to the end of April, the response to the pandemic is proving that people are scared for their lives.
On social media, people remark, "these are the end times." Maybe this panic and death everywhere seem like omens, but they really aren't. A fellow creator wrote an article that you can read here about how the coronavirus will reshift the political and societal structures in the United States.
In times of crisis, we can also rely on our faith to help us understand our lives better. Here are some helpful tips to help you maintain your faith and not bemoan that life on earth, as we know it, is over.
It seems like such a simple answer. But, in an article for Christianity Today, a writer reflects on the power of three types of prayer: prayers of lament, prayers of intercession, and prayers of silence. Not only that, but she prays in a country hit hard by the pandemic.
I have used these three prayers in my own practices. I've sat in silence for ten minutes and kept a page blank in my diary; I've prayed for third-world countries to receive the help they need to rebound from the virus; as well, I've prayed for my own sadness in my quarantined days.
Matthew 7:7 says, "Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need." Use prayer right now, ask God for his mercy and love; a simple word (or silence) directed towards him will probably reveal more than the news you're devouring.
2. Limit your time reading the news.
It doesn't matter if you read the news for an hour or ten minutes; limit yourself to updates only. The more time you read secondary news articles, the more time your brain will begin to formulate a worst-case scenario. C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, The Screwtape Letters, that, after all, "suspicion often creates what it suspects."
The same could be said about fear and panic. They create one another. The more time you spend focusing on the negative, the more panicked and obsessed you become. Isaiah 41:13 states, "While anxiety can feel overpowering or terrifying, we should not fear, but rather trust in the perfect and never-changing love and peace of God."
Instead of devoting time reading the news, find ways to preoccupy your mind. Learn a new language; play Sudoku; put together a puzzle; read the book you've been putting off reading. Challenge your mind and grow.
3. Learn how to be still.
Stillness is not just the lack of movement; it is also the act of the Holy Spirit revealing itself to you. Your thoughts become clearer in the process. Exodus 14:14 states, "The LORD will fight for you, and you will only have to be silent."
Start by meditating for ten minutes a day. Turn off your phone, your music, your television, and just listen. Listen to your heartbeat, Observe the movements within your body that keep you alive right now. Stillness is knowing how to turn off the incessant thoughts and focusing on one thing - God.
Revelation 21:11 states, "[The glory of God is] radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal." Reflect on that glorious image and you will feel more rested than you did before.
4. Focus on the good.
Despite the overwhelming amount of death and negativity that is world-wide, there is still good happening. Babies still are being born and shown to their relatives and friends through windows. Foster animals are finding new homes. And even though they are overworked, service workers still manage to have a healthy, positive attitude.
By focusing on the good, we are focusing on the love of God in these trying times. 1 Corinthians 13:7 states, "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." Because God is love.
5. Be of service to others.
Whether or not you're working from home, you're a service worker, or you are a student, ask how you can help those around you. It may mean picking up groceries for your household or donating to a cause that benefits doctors to receive more medical supplies for their hospitals.
By being a servant, we focus on the good that we can do. To uplift one another, to show that we love each other, should mean more than toilet paper. Ephesians 2:10 states, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
Your actions speak louder than anything else. And remember, showing love does not have to be a physical manifestation; you can still honor social distancing and serve one another through good works virtually.
6. But don't forget to take care of yourself.
Like the flight attendants who perform safety routines before the airplane ascends, remember to "put on your oxygen mask before you help others."
Taking care of yourself may range from showering with lavender soap or putting on your make-up every once in a while. Or it may mean exercising; eating your favorite food; watching your favorite television show.
1 Timothy 4:8 states, "For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." As well, to show you and your body value doesn't mean just indulgence in a time of scarcity - it means prioritizing your health.
7. And finally, use the time to better yourself in some capacity.
All these points dwell on improving yourself somehow - strengthening your relationship with God; taking care of yourself; helping one another. But I know there are some points that I may have missed because the human race is very multi-faceted and I can't hit every point that makes us unique from one another.It can mean self-educating yourself on a topic, picking up an old hobby, starting a new one... Whatever it is, do it because you are called to it. 1 Corinthians 9:24 states, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it."
When you move forward, you are distancing yourself from the past which is full of trauma and hard-won lessons. When you move forward, you are coming closer to your purpose. To God. Whatever you feel is an improvement is your improvement. No one else can take that away from you.
Don't be frightened by the pandemic and the scarcity it is producing. Instead, focus on your health, your wellbeing, your faith. Because it's that which will deliver you.