Fear · Prayer · Trust

Pandemic and Panic vs. Perspective and Prayer

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My kids and I entered Costco yesterday to do our usual shopping. Usually, I grab my own shopping cart while holding my membership card. Instead, I was greeted by a friendly employee who, seeing my bee-line toward the carts, rushed to pull one from the line and wipe down the handle for me.

“People who work at Costco are so friendly and helpful!” my daughter remarked, as I thanked him and headed inside. 

I was curious if the Costco in our smallish city was out of toilet paper and water like the cities on the west coast. I’d observed the people walking out as we headed in, and it seemed as though everyone had at least one case of water and one package of toilet paper. After picking up some items on our list, we headed over to the section with the water and paper goods to get dog food. The management had posted a sign over the water and toilet paper that read, “Limit 2 per member.”

I picked up one of each item and continued to the dog food. I’ve been working on getting a case of water in every bedroom of the house ahead of tornado season so that if one part of the house collapses, we still have access to water in another part. 

Pleased to see the still-full shelves, I continued with the remainder of my shopping. Elsewhere in the country, however, people are in full-blown panic mode. Why? What on earth is so different about this virus compared with ebola? SARS? MERS? Zika? Influenza?

According to the CDC, roughly 56,000 people die from the flu each year.

According to the NHTSA, 36,560 people died in car accidents in 2019.

At the present time, there have been 12 deaths from Coronavirus in the U.S. 

Yes, you read that correctly: that’s a two-digit twelve without any additional zeros. 

It’s possible that the virus could become a pandemic. It’s possible that more will die. It’s possible that the fears are legitimate, but that could have been the case with Ebola, SARS, MERS, etcetera.

I could panic…

…Or I could face the fact that death could come at me in other ways—car accident, tornado, cancer, flu, etc. 

Some things are just beyond my control. It’s time to accept our limitations.

Worry stems from a desire to control. 

We work hard to have money in the bank so that we can do something about problems like kids growing out of shoes or an illness that demands a doctor’s care. If we control our money, we can control what happens to us, right? Well, that’s only correct if if the money still has worth…

…and hasn’t been stolen…
…or lost… 

…or devalued due to hyperinflation… 

…and, only if the circumstances are correctable with money

If my child were to die suddenly in a car crash I didn’t cause or from a cancer I could not prevent, how is money going to fix that? It can’t! I cannot bring someone back from the dead.

We strive to control what is beyond our control while often refusing to control the only two things within our control: our attitude and our response. It’s much easier to focus on what we can’t control. If we look within ourselves, we might not like what we see!

Replace Worry With Trust

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addresses some of our very ‘physical’ worries: food, water, clothing, and the specter of ‘tomorrow’!

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6.31-34

God is a keeper of promises. Trust Him to take care of your basic needs. Offer your best efforts to Him and entrust Him with the rest. 

Replace Panic with Prayer & Perspective

Fear strikes and foolishness isn’t far behind.

King Saul is the perfect example of foolish fear:
He feared being king, so he hid.
He “feared the people,” so he disobeyed God.
He feared “losing his kingdom,” so he hunted down his best warrior like a madman.

Fearing the wrong things causes stupidity.

Listen to what Paul tells Timothy:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear,
but of power
and of love
and of a sound mind. 

2 Timothy 1.7, NKJV

God has given us a spirit of power. He has infused us with His great love. He has taught us not to be swept away with the ever-changing winds of the world, but to be sober in our mindset. Replace worldly panic with powerful prayer and an eternal perspective.

The Lord is at hand; 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.

Philippians 4.5-7, ESV

We frequently quote Philippians 4.6-7, but let’s not forget verse 5! This verse indicates that our perspective should be eternal. Jesus is coming soon, so stop worrying and start praying. Furthermore, verses 8-9 encourage us to fix our mindset:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true,
whatever is honorable,
whatever is just,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is commendable,
if there is any excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4.8-9, ESV

Did you catch that? Control what you can control—what you think about and what you do—and the God of peace (not panic!) will be with you!!! When we work on controlling what is within our power to control, we stop living in fear and start walking by faith.

Whatever we are dealing with now—be it flu, coronavirus, or natural disaster—is temporary. We cannot control our circumstance, but we can control our response.

Will people see the power of God in my reaction or will the see their own desperate fear?

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20 thoughts on “Pandemic and Panic vs. Perspective and Prayer

  1. You are so right about this. We don’t know the time or day when life will end. Our lives can change in an instant. The only preparation we can make is by letting God carry out the plan he has for us and trust that he will carry it out in his way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! I just finished watching two documentaries with my kids—one on WWI and one on WWII—and it amazed me how suddenly people’s lives were upended. It’s a reminder of how temporary it all is…

      Like

      1. A month ago a dear friend of mine was run over by a car in the Costco parking lot. She is in her early seventies and had lost her husband only a year ago. Within an instant she was clinging to life. She is slowly recovering and after several surgeries is actually recovering. God has a plan for each of us, no matter what.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. She is quite confused about her accident. It has been a series of baby steps, but she is recovering and has the support of a loving family and friends. We pray for her healing, but know it’s going to take a log time.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oddly I’m not feeling that sense of dread or panic as I normally would when the doomsayers and Henny Penny folks start clamoring and perhaps that is in part because I know I’m doing what I can and I’m simply trusting God— but I probably should have gotten toilet paper when last at the grocery store before all the madness began because we might be running low and I’ll probably now not find any on the shelves 😜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny you mention the toilet paper because I wasn’t planning to buy any until it started flying off the shelves. We are halfway through a Costco-sized package, but, like you, I didn’t want to run out if there was a shortage.

      I’m not panicked about this either, but I am disturbed by this “boy who cried wolf” when it comes to diseases. I’m at the point where I don’t believe them anymore. Ebola terrified me far more than Coronavirus…

      On the other hand, I plan to keep my pantry stocked, feed my family healthy foods, and be watchful.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I know— I was so afraid of that Ebola outbreak— I remember Autumn (aka the Mayor) had recently been born and when she came down with salmonella we had to rush to Scottish rite in Atlanta— there were signs all over the hospital about Ebola and I was slightly panicking on the inside, afraid to touch a thing!
        But now I’m just resigned that what will be will be and I just want the news to stop whipping the flames

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great article to help us find peace in the midst of the madness.
    Living in California, I’m more concerned about earthquakes than the coronavirus. I will continue to wash my hands frequently and take the same common-sense precautions. I will say that I bought toilet paper because I didn’t want to run out! The shelves at my local Walmart are bare.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean! Y’all have earthquakes and we have tornadoes. Like you, I’m more concerned about tornado season than Coronavirus…

      Like

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