Yesterday in the Rose Garden, President Trump announced the government is extending the social distancing guidelines until April 30th. In essence the country continues to be closed.
The President’s health experts warned that no area of the country is going to be spared from the effects of COVID-19. If the predictions are accurate the outbreak of the virus and those dying as a result will not peak for another two weeks.
All of this raises questions in the minds of many
When will I be able to return to work?
When will restaurants open again?
When will churches resume public worship services and Bible classes?
When will life return to “normal?”
Will our economy rebound?
Will I get sick with the virus?
Will my family or friends be spared?
Will there actually be 100,000 to 200,000 die from COVID-19?
How can I cope?
How will I recover from the economic fallout?
How will the nation recover?
How can my faith sustain me?
These and many other questions raise concerns. Even doubt. And maybe worry. Or fear. And in some cases panic.
This reminds me of Jehovah’s advice through the prophet Isaiah. The nation of Judah was facing a perilous period during the days of King Ahaz. Assyria was growing stronger. The king was afraid. He was trusting more in political alliances than the power of God.
God then instructed Isaiah to meet Ahaz and offer this counsel. “Say to him, “Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart…” (Isa. 7:4).
When adversity strikes and threatens the peace and safety of our world, it’s a natural, human tendency to be agitated. Maybe careless. Or fearful. Even to fall into despair.
Instead, “keep calm.”
However, calmness does not naturally occur. Deciding to be calm is a determined response instead of an emotional reaction. It demands discipline. Requires the right focus. And calls for courage, strength, and fortitude.
During this present distress, we need our leaders to stay calm. Not just our national, state and local leaders, but leaders in our churches and our families. Preachers and pastors must shepherd with calmness and offer help, hope and direction. And on a daily basis, mothers and fathers need to offer reassurance and encouragement to their children.
How do you remain calm during these unprecedented and turbulent times? Here are a few suggestions.
1. Pray. This cannot be overstated. Not only are we assured that God hears and answers our prayers, there is something therapeutic about prayer. By inspiration, Paul offers this wise advice when our spirits are disquieted.
“Do not be anxious about 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 your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)
2. Read and meditate on Scripture. If you’re not engaged in a daily Bible reading program, this is a good time to begin. My wife and I are using Mark Roberts’ “5 Day Bible Reading Program” that combines Old and Testament passages. We like to alternate and combine reading out loud to each other, with listening to it read by professionals on the internet.
If you are feeling especially anxious, worried or fearful, just google “Bible verses dealing with anxiety.” Or fear. Or worry. You’ll find just what you need.
Read Psalm 119 to remind you how God’s Word offers help, hope, and direction to comfort you in any circumstance of life.
3. Listen to music. We have several CD’s of hymns that we rotate depending on our mood. Of course, you can find almost every hymn on YouTube. Have you heard this acapella rendition by the Virtual Cell Phone Choir. It’s fantastic. Listen to “It is Well With My Soul.” You will be encouraged. And inspired.
4. Take a walk. Get some exercise. Breathe the fresh air. It’s spring time. Enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.
5. Count your blessings. It’s often easy to focus on what we’re missing. What we don’t have. Instead, think of the many ways God has blessed you. And for the many good things you continue to enjoy.
6. Stay connected. Social distancing doesn’t demand social disengagement. Call, text, email, facetime with your friends, family, and brethren. Encourage one another.
7. Don’t watch TV 24/7. Sure, you want to be informed. But a steady, constant diet of the dire news from your favorite cable station will only feed your fears. Turn it off. Or watch a movie instead. Read. Play games. Work in the yard. Find something enjoyable to occupy your time.
I’m sure there are many other ways that will aid in being calm. What are you doing to remain calm? Please share. It will help all of us.
Finally, in the words of my favorite author, anonymous, “Ships don’t sink because of the water around them; ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman