Nothing shows us what is really important in life as does an imminent tragedy. Nor is there anything that show us what is really true about ourselves as does a crisis. These things have a knack for stripping away the layers of lazy assumptions and pretensions we like to live by because they are comfortable, ego-inflating, and don’t require growth and adjustment on our parts.
Whatever I might fear about the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and assume about human nature’s response to it, the bottom line is that much of what is going on right now is out of my control. And because these things are outside of the realm of my ability to control them, I, like you, must wrestle with how to respond.
Human nature, on the one hand, tends to draw me to self-protective and reactionary responses to the circumstances around me. I can stockpile, compete for what seems like disappearing resources, live in fear of others, and act aggressively to either protect my family or to go beyond and exploit others if given the chance (as is found in price-gouging, etc.). I can live fearfully and through my fearfulness encourage a similar response from others who feel threatened by me and the lengths I would go to take care of myself.
Similarly, I might be inclined to be angry about the reactions of others, loudly criticizing those who are making decisions that I feel are infringing upon my comforts and ease. I might be in a state of denial and be willing to run the risk of putting others in danger because I am fixated in my pride on the wrongness that I perceive in others. If this is the case and I am given the opportunity, I would do nothing.
Or I might be tempted to place my faith in people and then assume that they have all the answers. In a best case scenario, our leaders do not have all the answers and are unsure how to move forward. The fact is that they are human also and cannot perfectly make the choices that in hindsight they (or we) might have wished that they had. Human limitations affect leaders because they are human, too.
The challenge then for you and me is to recognize that which transcends human limitation and to come under its protection and provision. The Bible honestly deals with human frailty and points us beyond people who cannot live up to all our needs and expectations, directing us to the “wisdom of God” which is personified in Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 1:27-31).
This is the essence of what gives such power to mobilize the children of God to positive and life-saving action: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV).
If you read that passage carefully, you will see that it allows for the fact that you and I will have afflictions which produce in our hearts the potential of anxiety, sorrow, bitterness, and anger, but if recognized as something allowed by God for our good and illuminated by the hope that we have in our resurrected Savior, can instead instill in us compassion that causes us to rise up out of feeling sorry for ourselves to the need of others who have not yet understood or embraced the hope that you and I have in Jesus.
Is this a time to panic? Nope. Is this a time to bar the doors of our homes (and hearts) against others? Again, no. Is it a time to be in a mode of denial that foolishly sets us up for the pain of unnecessary consequences? Absolutely not. Instead, it is a time for us to together as God’s children to allow the light of His love to shine in and through us in real and practical ways.
Loving others is not about a sentiment or positive vibes, but about active and intentional praying for and serving others. The crisis around you is the stage on which the love of God can be demonstrated for those about you to see. Be encouraged that God has made promises to you that He fully intends and is fully able to keep. But you have your part, too. It is to trust Him enough to climb out of the small box of selfishness that you are tempted to stay in and to love others as Jesus has loved you.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV).
Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 24 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com.” Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.