I’m out of toilet paper. This is ridiculous. I don’t even understand why people are hoarding toilet paper, but now I’m regretting that time in 1999 when I so flippantly tossed roll upon roll into the trees surrounding our high school the night before Homecoming. It would be comical if this virus wasn’t affecting so many aspects of our lives. School, vacations, sports events, conferences, business ventures . . . cancelled. It seems the only things not cancelled are the media outlets who are spreading the news faster than sneeze particles.
I’m not personally very afraid of the coronavirus. (I feel like by encouraging my children to eat dirt and build up their immunities, we’ve been preparing for this our whole lives.) I am, however, a bit afraid of people’s reactions (and overreactions) to this scare.
I would like to spread some peace instead. Let me start with Paul’s exhortations from Philippians:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (4:4-7).
Let’s take a moment to remember where this letter to the Philippians was written—Paul was in prison. He was in literal chains for the gospel, and these are the words he wrote. If anyone had cause to be anxious or to cease rejoicing, it was Paul. He had been beaten and stoned and driven out of cities and shipwrecked and arrested, and he probably didn’t have toilet paper and yet . . . Paul is preaching peace and rejoicing.
Whether or not they’re cognizant of it, the media is preaching fear. Fear is contagious. But so is peace. Now, I’m not an expert in pandemics, and I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be vigilant about washing our hands and trying not to spread germs. But a spirit of fear and timidity leaves no room for Jesus. Worrying pushes Jesus right out of the picture when he should be front and center. His promises for us should be at the forefront of our minds right now, promises like, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5) or “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation [read: COVID-19], will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39).
No matter what happens—sickness or health, life or death—we are safe in Jesus.
Amidst the chaos of this world, be a beacon of peace. Peace is contagious. Catch peace. Spread peace. Tell others of the reason for the hope that you have in our big, big GOD. He is in control of all things, and he will work this out for the good of his people.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:17).
Did you notice that phrasing? “I do not give to you as the world gives.” What does the world give? Fear, chaos, disappointment, toilet paper hoarders . . . Not Jesus. Jesus brings peace. Spread his peace.