Should Christians Be Anxious About the Coronavirus?Todd Wagner With the increasing coronavirus cases outside of China, many believers across the United States wonder how to respond to the increasing alarm. What would God have us do in the face of a growing international health crisis? Should our churches close their doors for fear of spreading illness? Should I take my kids out of school? Cancel travel plans? How should we help a panicked world?
Remember What We Know First, it’s important to be reminded of what we already know. Worry is not our friend, and panic is not our way. Solomon reminds us, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” (Prov. 24:10). May it never be said that God’s people are governed more by fear than faith. Corrie ten Boom, along with other faithful from among the nations, led courageously in the face of the Nazi fascism—a different form of a deadly virus. And she reminds us, “Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength.”
In times of crisis, the world needs steady people who are strengthened by God’s grace and selfless by God’s power. Worry accomplishes nothing except weakness of heart and head. It’s been said that 90 percent of the things we worry or become panicked about never happen, and the other 10 percent are outside our control. While we remain on alert against viruses of doctrine or disease, worrying won’t change our circumstances or lower our chance of infection. It won’t help us fight off illness or move us to action. Worrying about COVID-19 (or anything else) will only increase trouble. Rather than worrying and being anxious, Jesus calls us to respond with prayer and faith in him (Matt. 6:33–34; Phil. 4:6). We need not worry ultimately because we know the One who has defeated sin and death (1 Cor. 15:55–57).
Remind yourself continually: it takes the same amount of energy to worry as to pray. One leads to peace, the other to panic. Choose wisely.
Love Well and Trust Him If God calls us to worry about anything, it’s how to love people well. The psalmist encourages us, “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness” (Ps. 37:3). Peter reminds us to press on in the midst of every evil. Whether persecutions or pandemics, we can trust in the Lord, knowing, “It is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will than for doing evil” (1 Pet. 3:17). Worry is common to man. But God has called us to face troubles and threats with courage, leaning our weight on him.
Throughout history, Christians have often stood out because they were willing to help the sick even during plagues, pandemics, and persecutions. They loved people and weren’t afraid of death because they understood that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). By stepping into the mess of sickness and disease, they were able to demonstrate their faith to a watching world. So, rather than just asking “How do I stay healthy?” perhaps we should be also asking “How can I help the sick?” Let’s be quick to help and slow to hide in basements.
Prayer-infused confidence, compassion, and selflessness should mark how we talk about the coronavirus. Why? Because our Savior put on flesh (John 1:14) and stepped into our sickness, sin, and death. He healed the sick and cared for the hurting. We must do likewise.
We Can Be Careful, Too None of this means we should be reckless. Neither Christ’s love nor God’s Word encourages careless risks, but both promote obedience. Loving the sick doesn’t mean we intentionally infect ourselves (Prov. 22:3). If the infection becomes a legitimate risk (at the moment, the Center for Disease Control says the virus isn’t communally spreading in the United States, and the health risk is low), responding to the coronavirus likely means taking small practical steps like washing our hands and staying home if we’re sick.
Before you think of canceling church services, ask, “How can we care for those at risk?” As others get sick, care for them. Are most of you still healthy? That’s a great reason to gather for thanksgiving and prayer. Seek appropriate medical care as symptoms arise and don’t forsake caring for one another. Follow the example of those who’ve acted faithfully in the past. In 19th-century England, when thousands were dying of cholera, Charles Spurgeon visited homes to care for people. The church of Jesus in Wuhan China, the virus’s epicenter, is faithfully leading even today.
Finally, as you watch the world react to this crisis—itself a stark reminder of our mortality—don’t neglect to share the hope you have in Jesus (1 Pet. 3:15). Share how he rescued you from the universal epidemic of sin and the penalty of death. Share that your hope is not found in remaining healthy this side of heaven. We’ll all face death eventually. Thanks to Jesus, we can come to that day with confidence. Like Paul, we can remember that to live is Christ, but to die is gain (Phil. 1:21). We truly have nothing ultimate to fear—not from the coronavirus, the Ebola virus, natural disasters, or anything else.
Press on, friends. Pray for the sick. Walk-in God’s strength. Love the brotherhood. Do good to all men. Use your health to serve, not to hide. Jesus is sovereign over it all. And we are immortal until God’s work for us to do is finished. 8 Things the Coronavirus Should Teach Us By Mark Oden I awoke this morning in Naples, Italy’s third city, to have been placed on lockdown. Public gatherings, including church services, have been forbidden. Weddings, funerals, and baptisms have been canceled. Schools and cinemas, museums and gyms, have all been closed. My wife and I just returned from a grocery-shopping trip that took two hours due to long checkout lines. Italy currently has the highest reported number of coronavirus cases outside of China: 9,172 cases and 463 deaths. As a result, 60 million people have been told to remain in their homes unless absolutely necessary.
How are we, as Christians, to respond to such a crisis? Answer: with faith, not fear. We are to look into the eye of the storm and ask, “Lord, what are you wanting me to learn through this? How are you seeking to change me?” Here are eight things we’d all do well to learn or relearn, from this coronavirus scare.
1. Our Fragility This global crisis is teaching us how weak we are as human beings. At the time of writing, 98,429 cases of coronavirus have been reported worldwide, causing 3,387 deaths. We’re trying our best to contain its spread. And, for the most part, I guess we’re confident of eventual success. Now imagine a virus even more aggressive and contagious than coronavirus. Faced with such a threat, could we prevent our own extinction as a species? The answer is clearly no. It’s easy to forget, but humans are weak and frail. The words of the psalmist ring true: “The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind [or COVID-19] blows over it and it is gone and its place remembers it no more” (Ps. 103:15–16). How does this lesson of our fragility hit home? Perhaps by reminding us to not take our lives on this earth for granted. “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).
2. Our Equality This virus doesn’t respect ethnic boundaries or national borders. It’s not a Chinese virus; it’s our virus. It’s in Afghanistan, Belgium, Cambodia, Denmark, France, America—77 countries and counting have been contaminated by the coronavirus. We’re all members of the great human family, created in the image of God (Gen. 1:17). The color of our skin, the language we speak, our accents, and our cultures count for nothing in the eyes of a contagious disease. In the eyes of the world, we’re all different; in the eyes of the virus, we’re just the same. In our suffering, in the pain of losing a loved one, we are completely equal—weak and without answers.
3. Our Loss of Control We all love to be in control. We fancy ourselves, captains of our destiny, masters of our fate. The reality is that today, more than ever before, we can control significant parts of our lives. We can control our home’s heating and security remotely; we can move money around the world with a click of an app; we can even control our bodies through training and medicine. But perhaps this sense of control is an illusion, a bubble that the coronavirus has popped, revealing the reality that we’re not really in control. Now, here in Italy, the authorities are trying to contain the spread of this virus by closing, opening, and closing again our children’s schools. Do they have the situation under control? What about us? Armed with our disinfectant sprays, we try to lower the risks of being infected. There is nothing wrong with this activity. But are we in control of the situation? Hardly.
4. The Pain We Share in Being Excluded A few days ago a member of our church traveled to northern Italy. On her return to Naples, she was excluded from a dinner with work colleagues. She was told it would be better for her not to come due to her recent travels up north, even though she hadn’t been anywhere near the red zones and wasn’t displaying any coronavirus symptoms. Obviously, this distancing hurt her. A 55-year-old restaurant owner from central Naples has recently been quarantined. Having tested positive for COVID-19, he was said to have felt relatively well physically, but was saddened by the reactions of many of his neighbors: “The thing that has hurt him more than his positive diagnosis for the coronavirus is the way he and his family have been treated by the city in which he lives” (Il Mattino newspaper, March 2, 2020). Being excluded and isolated isn’t an easy thing since we were created for relationship. But many people, now, are having to deal with isolation. It’s an experience the leper community of Jesus’s day knew all too well. Forced to live on their own, walking the streets of their hometowns shouting, “Unclean! Unclean!” (cf. Lev. 13:45). 5. The Difference between Fear and Faith What’s your reaction to this crisis? It’s so easy to be gripped by fear. It’s easy to see the coronavirus everywhere I look: on the keyboard of my computer, in the air I breathe, in every physical contact and around every corner, waiting to infect me. Are we panicking? Perhaps this crisis is challenging us to react in a different way—with faith and not fear. Faith not in the stars, or in some unknown deity. Rather, faith in Jesus Christ, the good shepherd who is also the resurrection and the life. Or perhaps this crisis is challenging us to react in a different way—with faith and not fear. Faith not in the stars or in some unknown deity. Rather, faith in Jesus Christ, the good shepherd who is also the resurrection and the life. Surely only Jesus is in control of this situation; surely only he can guide us through this storm. He calls us to trust and believe, to have faith and not fear.
6. Our Need of God and Our Need to Pray In the midst of a global crisis, how can we as individuals possibly make a difference? Often we feel so small and insignificant. But there is something we can do. We can call out to our Father in heaven. Pray for the authorities running our countries and cities. Pray for the medical teams treating the sick. Pray for the men, women, and children who have been infected, for the people afraid to leave their homes, for those living in red zones, for those at high risk with other illnesses, and for the elderly. Pray the Lord would protect us and keep us. Pray to him, that he might show us his mercy. Pray also for the Lord Jesus to return, that he might come back to take us to the new creation that he has prepared for us, a place with no tears, no death, no mourning, crying or pain (Rev. 21:4).
7. The Vanity of So Much of Our Lives “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities. All is vanity” (Eccles. 1:2). It’s so easy to lose perspective in the midst of the madness of our lives. Our days are so filled with people and projects, works and wish lists, homes and holidays, that we can struggle to distinguish the important from the urgent. We lose ourselves in the midst of our lives. Perhaps this crisis is showing us what to concern our lives with. Perhaps it’s teaching us what’s really important in our lives and what is vanity. Perhaps this crisis is reminding us what we should concern our lives with. Perhaps it’s helping us to distinguish between what’s meaningful and meaningless. Perhaps the Premier League, or that new kitchen, or that Instagram post aren’t essential to my survival. Perhaps the coronavirus is teaching us what really matters.
8. Our Hope In a sense, the most important question is not, “What hope do you have in the face of the coronavirus?” because Jesus came to warn us of the presence of a far more lethal and widespread virus—one that has struck every man, woman, and child. A virus that ends in not only certain death but eternal death. Our species, according to Jesus, lives in the grip of a pandemic outbreak called sin. What is your hope in the face of that virus? Our species, according to Jesus, lives in the grip of a pandemic outbreak called sin. What is your hope in the face of that virus? The story of the Bible is the story of a God who entered a world infected with this virus. He lived among sick people, not wearing a chemical protective suit but breathing the same air as we do, eating the same food as we do. He died in isolation, excluded from his people, seemingly far from his Father on a cross—all that he might provide this sick world with an antidote to the virus, that he might heal us and give us eternal life. Hear his words: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25–26(Source: TGC) Coronavirus: How To Protect Your Mental Health By Kirstie Brewer- BBC News
Coronavirus has plunged the world into uncertainty and the constant news about the pandemic can feel relentless. All of this is taking its toll on people's mental health, particularly those already living with conditions like anxiety and OCD. So how can we protect our mental health?
Being concerned about the news is understandable, but for many people, it can make existing mental health problems worse. When the World Health Organization released advice on protecting your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak, it was welcomed on social media.
As Anxiety UK's Nicky Lidbetter explains, the fear of being out of control and unable to tolerate uncertainty are common characteristics of many anxiety disorders. So it's understandable that many individuals with pre-existing anxiety are facing challenges at the moment."A lot of anxiety is rooted in worrying about the unknown and waiting for something to happen - coronavirus is that on a macro scale," agrees Rosie Weatherley, spokesperson for mental health charity Mind. So how can we protect our mental health
Limit the news and be careful what you read Reading lots of news about coronavirus has led to panic attacks for Nick, a father-of-two from Kent, who lives with anxiety. "When I'm feeling anxious my thoughts can spiral out of control and I start thinking about catastrophic outcomes," he says. Nick is worried about his parents and other older people he knows. "Usually when I suffer I can walk away from a situation. This is out of my control," he says. Having long periods away from news websites and social media has helped him to manage his anxiety. He has also found support helplines, run by mental health charities such as AnxietyUK, useful. 1. Limit the amount of time you spend reading or watching things that aren't making you feel better. Perhaps decide on a specific time to check in with the news. 2. There is a lot of misinformation swirling around - stay informed by sticking to trusted sources of information such as government and NHS websites Have breaks from social media and mute things which are triggering Alison, 24, from Manchester, has health anxiety and feels compelled to stay informed and research the subject. But at the same time, she knows social media can be a trigger. "A month ago I was clicking on hashtags and seeing all this unverified conspiracy rubbish and it would make me really anxious and I would feel really hopeless and cry," she says. Now she is careful about which accounts she tunes into and is avoiding clicking on coronavirus hashtags. She is also trying hard to have time away from social media, watching TV or reading books instead.
1. Mute keywords which might be triggering on Twitter and unfollow or mute account 2. Mute WhatsApp groups and hide Facebook posts and feeds if you find them too overwhelming Wash your hands - but not excessively OCD Action has seen an increase in support requests from people whose fears have become focused on the coronavirus pandemic. For people with OCD and some types of anxiety, being constantly told to wash your hands can be especially difficult to hear. This is a tough time for us OCDers. For those who have been through contamination #OCD, the response to #COVID19 feels like watching our brains being flipped inside out. It's weird seeing people act in ways (repeated sanitizer, fear of touching stuff) we associate with being ill. For Lily Bailey, author of Because We Are Bad, a book about living with OCD, fear of contamination was one aspect of her obsessive-compulsive disorder. She says the advice about handwashing can be a huge trigger for people who have recovered."It's really difficult because I now have to do some of the behaviors that I've been avoiding," says Bailey.
"I'm sticking to the advice really rigidly but it's hard, considering that for me, soap and sanitizer used to be something comparable to addiction." Charity OCD Action says the issue to look out for is the function - for example, is the washing being carried out for the recommended amount of time to reduce the risk of spreading of the virus - or is it being done ritualistically in a specific order to feel "just right"? Bailey points out that for a lot of people with OCD, getting better means being able to leave the house - so self-isolating can present another challenge. "If we're forced to stay at home, we have lots of time on our hands, and boredom can make OCD worse," she says. Stay connected with people Increasing numbers will join those already in self-isolation so now might be a good time to make sure you have the right phone numbers and email addresses of the people you care about."Agree regular check-in times and feel connected to the people around you," says Weatherley.If you're self-isolating, strike a balance between having a routine and making sure each day has some variety. It might end up actually feeling like quite a productive two weeks. You could work through your to-do list or read a book you'd been meaning to get to. Avoid burnout With weeks and months of the coronavirus pandemic ahead, it is important to have downtime. Mind recommends continuing to access nature and sunlight wherever possible. Do exercise, eat well and stay hydrated. Anxiety; UK suggests practicing the "Apple" technique to deal with anxiety and worries. Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind. Pause: Don't react as you normally do. Don't react at all. Pause and breathe Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don't believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements of facts. Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don't have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud. Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, at this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else - on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else - mindfully with your full attention.