COVID-19 – Without Fear

COVID-19 has been and will be in the forefront of Lutheran school ministry for the weeks to come. The virus is real. What to expect? Every country has had its variables. The US is no different. Unfortunately, the reactions to the virus have included uncertainty, panic and anxiety.

Uncertainty? With no widespread testing in place and no vaccine, routines and schedules have been set aside and replaced with “What next?” Even in our area, the general rule has been, “What will ABC tell us to do?”

Panic? Have you looked at your 401k? Well, DON’T! Have you gone to the grocery store? Two words - toilet paper.

Anxiety? Social media has fed the beast. “What ifs” are a plague in the midst of this uncertainty. Have you noticed a difference in many of your relationships? Your kids? Without voicing it, much anxiety is rearing its ugly head.

As our Lutheran schools have joined in the conversation and plans in response to how schools should respond to the spread of the virus, you know we have made plans for remote learning.

It’s a difficult decision but one done with much thought, conversation, research and prayer.

Personally, I’ve struggled mightily with a right response to this virus. Yes, I’m washing my hands and singing a song. Yes, I’m coughing into my sleeve (and yes, this incessant tickle in my throat probably has a few people worried). Have I made it a point to be 6 feet away from people? No. Somehow this social distancing thing seems a bit “unchurchy.” But I’ll work on conforming to the guidance.

My struggle has been toward the fear and the inability to center the conversation on our Fortress, rather than the virus. I’m a realist, and I can see the data and the flowcharts on how the virus has demonstrated its trends. But although I have been part of many (MANY) meetings in the last week alone on COVID-19 - meetings that have begun with prayer. But while we have made it a point to care for kids and families, most of the talk has been about the containment of the virus and not enough on Christ and His control and His compassion. No shots here; I personally have been in those meetings....and we have made healthy decisions.

But, what should all Christians turn to after or before prayer? How about some good old fashioned, meat and potato Scripture. Check out the Psalmist’s confession -

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Uncertainty? “Be still and know that I am God” We need to be sure that in our homes and in our remote learning, the certainty of our God’s care for us is expressed.

Panic? “God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear...” We need to take a deep breath, gather around God’s quiet and powerful and read of His strength.

Anxiety? “The Lord of hosts is with us” Immanuel - God with us. The baby born in Bethlehem, of whom we celebrated his birth just months ago, in the one who angels adore and whom we can turn to in confidence.

Our God is with us and he has been in all history and knows the future.
We know him as Love (1 John 4:16).
We can boldly and without fear know that our future is secure in Him. Our Savior, Jesus, knows life on earth and is our “go to” for all things. We can be confident of it. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress