If you have been reading the headlines the past few days, you may have wondered whether the world is coming to an end:
“Stock Market Bloodbath”
“Anxiety grips companies across the world as virus spreads”
“Italy extends its quarantine to the entire country”
“‘We’re past the point of containment’ …”
Though they may sound alarming, these headlines are alerting us of a very real and urgent threat the world is facing from the new coronavirus and its attendant disease COVID-19. The virus has already killed 4,000 people worldwide, infected more than 110,000 and rocked the global economy. In a matter of weeks, it traveled from Wuhan, China, where it originated, to the U.S.
Fears about the coronavirus and COVID-19 are not unwarranted nor to be taken lightly. Lives are at stake.
Yet I worry that the viral fear of COVID-19 is making us more vulnerable to the virus and its collateral effects. We have seen how a news story can send the global stock market tumbling. Fear can even weaken your immune system.
“We’re in this fear state, but the fear state turns down the immune system,” one expert said in a recent interview. “When you spread fear to your friends, it’s almost like spreading germs to them.”
So what are we to do about this growing threat?
I am a pastor — not a politician or a doctor — so in times of uncertainty, I look to Jesus’ words for comfort and guidance. He said, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Jesus knew that fear paralyzes us and hinders our ability to respond effectively to the challenges of life.
Though there is reason to be afraid of COVID-19, I believe there are greater reasons not to be.
To start off, the mortality rate of the virus may be lower than first believed (given the number of unknown cases, epidemiologists believe it’s closer to 1%). We also know the world is responding to manage the spread of the virus, and if you are careful and follow doctors’ recommendations, you can greatly reduce your chances of getting infected. And while the stock market has taken a major blow, it will probably be OK in the long run. President Trump announced he will work on relief efforts for hourly workers, including a payroll tax cut, which has helped stocks rally after a dramatic plunge.
Knowing this, we can respond with faith to the situation. Here are three things we can all do:
1. Be Practical:
We have to take this threat seriously. I have spoken with many doctors about COVID-19 and have read their practical advice: avoid close contact with people who are sick, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, stay home when you are sick, wash your hands consistently, don’t shake hands with others, etc. If you can, avoid any unnecessary travel, especially overseas to regions where the virus has spread. The CDC has published a helpful prevention guide, which you can reference for tips on how to protect yourself and your family from the virus.
2. Be Prayerful:
This cannot be emphasized enough right now. We need to call out to God almighty and ask for divine intervention to protect our country and its citizens. We need to pray for those who are infected that the Lord would touch them.
We need to pray for everyone who is on the front lines of this pandemic — from medical professionals who are caring for patients to Vice President Pence, HUD Secretary Ben Carson and others who have been tasked with responding to this crisis. Some have mocked and criticized the vice president for praying with his team for a solution, but that is the first thing we must do whenever faced with a challenge of this magnitude, and we need to join him in this.
Regardless of your political persuasion, this is not a time for partisan bickering but for us to pray and work together to fight this virus that knows no boundaries. COVID-19 transcends race, gender and party. We need to pull together, work together and pray together.
3. Be Prepared
There are two ways we need to be prepared for the coronavirus:
The first is to be practically prepared in case of an emergency. Stock up on groceries and items such as sanitizers and, if possible, set aside an emergency fund for any unexpected expenses.
We also need to be prepared spiritually for this threat. Crisis such as these put life in perspective: am I in a right relationship with God? Maybe you grew up in church and walked away from your faith or maybe you have never considered God at all. Right now is the time to do it. Jesus died on a cross 2,000 years ago for you and me to give us hope and life not only for now but for eternity. If we turn to Him, we can confidently replace fear with faith.