Being prepared is something that defines me, as I am the type of person who is prepared for most all situations I encounter.
For example, I have this little gadget that is on me at all times that appears like a thick credit card, but within it, it is like a Swiss Army Knife, complete with an ink pen, ruler, magnifier, scissors, nail file, tweezers, etc. If I am cold; no problem, there’s gloves in my jacket pocket, and sometimes even a toboggan cap. For the betterment of everyone around me, I prevent hunger by having a snack on me at all times. I have been accused of having a fear of dehydration as it is hard to find me without a water bottle nearby. Have a headache? Which medication would you like…Tylenol, Advil, Excedrin, or Aleve, because they are all choices I carry in my purse. Allergic reaction? Here’s some Benadryl. Something stuck in my teeth, no worries, I have dental floss within reach. I could go on, but you get the point by now; I strive to always be prepared for anything that comes my way.
Enter COVID-19, which revealed, exposed, and brought the painful truth that there is nothing in which I could do, pack for, carry with me, or make detailed plans to prevent its spread. I could not make toilet paper suddenly appear in the stores. I could not keep this virus from coming into my home state of Georgia. I could sanitize every part of every surface around me, but that too, would not prevent exposure for the population as a whole. Thus, COVID-19 uncovered a sin I otherwise would not have known; I allowed fear to replace my faith.
Any other day in any other situation, I would have argued otherwise, countering I indeed have much faith that would not waver or be replaced with fear. After all, I have trusted the Lord with my life! I pray over all things. When I am in a trial, I seek the Lord with all my heart and strive to prevent myself from leaning on my own understanding. In all my ways, I acknowledge the Lord’s hand on my life so He will direct my path. (Proverb 3:5-7)
Yet, being consumed with the news, coverage, stories, and spread of COVID-19, I faced the reality that my faith needed work. For when I began to sense panic, I knew instantly, I needed to sense the Lord even more so, in abundant amounts.
Devouring every news clip, every news article, and every video testimonial account from people around the world gained me lots of knowledge of the virus, but knowledge was not what I needed.
Devouring every news clip, every news article, and every video testimonial account from people around the world gained me lots of knowledge of the virus, but knowledge was not what I needed. What I needed was Godly wisdom to know just how to use the knowledge. I needed to know if this was a trial God wanted me to eliminate by faith or persevere by faith. It would be the latter, and from James 1:2-8, I am reminded that my faith is tested through trials, not produced through trials, and that patient endurance is the mark of a person who is perfect and complete, lacking nothing, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I needed the patient endurance that comes from asking God for wisdom in faith. Charles Spurgeon reminds me that the natural tendency of trouble induces sin. I am sinful when I become unbelieving under affliction, when I murmur against God, and when I put forth my hand to some ill way of escaping my difficulty. So, I am taught to pray to not be led into temptation during times of trials. Spurgeon also points out that trials can prove a wonderful work of God in me as I feel the strength of God, feel the power of faith, hang upon God’s powerful arm and see God at work.
So, I am going to do as the book of James encourages and count this particular trial of not being in control as joy. I will count the discovery of finding that I need to strengthen my faith as joy, redirecting my thoughts and energy from things I can do within my own control to relying on the strength of the Lord.
I do not know what will happen this time next week. I do not know if many in our community will be affected. I do not know if my own family will contract the virus. I do not know what is going to happen to my job. I do not know what will happen to the economy.
In spite of all I do not know, I know that Christ died for my sins and that He conquered death by rising to life again. I know that God is alive. I know I can cast my cares on the Lord, for He cares for me. I know that God sent the Holy Spirit to be my helper. I know that God can renew my strength and hope. I know that God hears my prayers and cries for help. I know I can put all my hope and trust in the Lord.
Through this new territory I find myself in, I will commit to do as Jesus models and take care of those around me, continuing to check in on my neighbors, who are at risk, and see if there is anything they need, calling those who may be lonely, praying for the cessation of the virus and those who have been affected by it, praying for those who will, or already have, lose income through the closings and social distancing, and praying for our leaders and healthcare providers. May God be my refuge and my strength, for when He is, no panic or fear can have a hold on me, and rather than finding faith in my own ability or planning, instead, I will place my faith in Christ alone.