Globally, humanity is facing the worst Pandemic in over 100 years. There is no vaccine or medication that can arrest its affects. Covid_19 has become an alien invader an invisible entity that has the power to kill, steel and destroy. As the numbers rise, both in cases and in deaths, we have every reason to be concerned and cautious. Many people are experiencing a great deal of fear and anxiety, sending many into a state of panic. This is evidenced by the many stores that ran out of stock on essential items such as: masks and sanitizer, toilet paper, bottled water, and canned goods. So many fearful people taking more than they need, stocking up in case of a quarantine.
I was in the grocery store and a lady went up to someone who had two cases of Toilet paper and started screaming at her for taking more than she needs then tried to take one away for her. I am sure this lady was a reasonable person yesterday but today a store clerk had to intervene. The fear of not having enough; the fear that each of us are in this alone; the fear that someone may come and take what we have. This was evidenced by people in a long line outside a gun shop, waiting to purchase a guns on Monday. Many people have been asked not to come back to work or school and the timeline keeps getting pushed out. The stock market dropped in dramatic fashion; the Health care system is doing all it can to prepare for what is coming. The uncertainty, fear and panic is breathtaking. FEAR is the predominant emotion most everyone is dealing with.
As Spiritual leaders as well as people of faith, we need to remember that we exert an incredible amount of influence over the people in our care. We are in extraordinary times. All that we have been trained in regarding faith in the midst of chaos; being a non-anxious presence in the midst of trouble. The time is now for us to raise high the banner of peace. PEACE…BE STILL…Jesus stated in the midst of a ferocious storm! And so it is us who must raise our voices as agents of peace and grace rather than perpetuate the sense of panic that is on some levels necessary so that people will conform to the new rules we are all asked to abide by. WE can be agents of Peace and calm by how we speak and post online about the coronavirus. If we panic it will keep fueling the panic.
When we speak about the Virus, we should convey a sense of empathy, concern, and unflappable confidence that this too shall pass. And more importantly that we are all in this together, No matter who we are or where we are on life’s journey. As spiritual leaders we need to model the kind of leadership that exemplifies Faith, Hope and Love.
For Me a Christian, I place my hope in the Hebrew/Christian Scriptures.
The Psalmist says : God is my refuge and my strength a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
During times of distress, Jesus is a good example in that he was never afraid, always putting His hope in God.
On the night that Jesus was going to be betrayed, he shared a meal with his disciples. I can only imagine the amount of fear he felt thinking of what was about to happen to him. And he knew that his disciples would also be afraid albeit for different reasons. They were not aware of what was about to happen. We find him speaking these words.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)
In times of turmoil, Jesus tells us that we have no need to fear. Peace belongs to us don’t let circumstances steel it away. This is not a regular peace but a Peace found in knowing God is present in the midst of our trials. God did not create this but will be with us in it and help us find our way through it! This ‘God kind of Peace.’ is real and will help us endure. It will calm the stressors and make way for solitude and creative thinking rather than feeding fears that can cause panic, self-preservation and isolation.
God knows the world we live in is at times difficult and painful. God is very much aware of our legitimate fears. We have an opportunity to say outload that fear itself has no power over us. Here’s what he says later during that same meal with his disciples.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
We will experience troubles. But we are overcomers. So we don’t shrink back in fear. And try not to panic, even when a dangerous illness spreads throughout the world.
We can do two things. First we tend to our ourselves by 1. letting the Peace of God Rule our Hearts and BE Thankful (Colossians 3:15)
Let us go forth and be voices of reason and calm. This kind of Peace will overtake panic. This kind of peace will help us all maintain a reasonable attitude. This kind of peace will help us to remember: That we Belong to God, God Belongs to Us and WE ALL belong to one another.