“.. soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” – Mark 4:35-41.
If we were in the situation above, I think that would have been ample reason to worry. That was not irrational or unreasonable fear. The NLT version of the bible calls it a “fierce storm.” The Passion Translation calls it a “ferocious tempest.” The boat was filling with water. There was real danger. There was cause for worry.
Fast forward several thousand years and you have COVID-19, otherwise known as the coronavirus. This virus has created national fear in a way most people have not witnessed in their lifetime. Ball games are canceled; the beach and restaurants have shut down; schools are closed; travel is restricted, people are fearful for their jobs, the stock market is on a crazy, wild rollercoaster ride and people are sheltering in place in large parts of the country. We are caught up in a national panic by an invisible enemy that has the ability to destroy us. Certainly, this is also cause for fear and worry. This is a virus to be taken seriously. But there is also cause for hope.
You can’t help notice that Jesus was “sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion.” It is a picture of peace in the midst of pandemonium. The disciples were in a life and death struggle and Jesus seemed oblivious. When Jesus woke, His question is one we must all answer, “Why are you afraid?” It is a question we must ask ourselves as the Coronavirus pandemic makes us worry more and more.
What does this all mean? It means that when discussing coronavirus, the answer is not merely to “not fear.” It is to redirect that worry and fear and trust in God. We live in a world where God is in control of everything including the coronavirus. As the Lord is in control of every falling sparrow, so he also is in control of every virus molecule. As Jesus said, “So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Matthew 10:31). He’s got this.
If there is an action you can do to protect yourself, do it. Use wisdom and listen to sound advice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has offered many ways people like you and I can do our part to slow the spread of this disease at www.cdc.gov.
- If worry is irrational and unhelpful, what are some spiritual disciplines we might undertake to minimize worry in our lives? Name one or two practices you already exercise that would help in this process?