The headline was ominous: “School now closed after parent tested positive for coronavirus.” I clicked on it, curious to see which school it was. To my dismay, it was the one where my church meets.
I picked up the phone and called my wife, Raquel. I wanted her to understand how serious this virus was but my previous efforts to shake her up had been unsuccessful.
Earlier in the day, I tried to convince her to run to the grocery store immediately and stock up before everyone else did. She resisted.
“Joshua, I’ll go to the grocery store later on this afternoon. I’m not going to panic and be controlled by fear.”
“I’m not telling you to panic,” I said with a hint of irritation. “I’m asking you to go to the grocery store before other people panic.”
I knew I wasn’t being completely honest — I was definitely panicking. I had been watching the news and texting with a friend about the virus, and as I did so, I became increasingly anxious.
I called Raquel again later to report more of the troubling news that kept showing up on my news feed. But she was still calm and she still hadn’t gone to the grocery store. I was annoyed.
An hour later, Raquel sent me a text with this question: “What is it that you need me to do to be serious about the coronavirus?”
I paused. I didn’t know how to answer the question at first, but then it hit me: I wanted her to be afraid like me. I was aggravated at her confidence that God was going to take care of us. She refused to give in.
As Raquel’s assuredness sunk in, I found myself relaxing. It was as if her calmness had acted as a vaccine for my anxiety. Yes, we would wash our hands, avoid touching our faces, and buy extra toilet paper at the grocery store; but we could do all of that without living on edge.
In the coming days and possibly weeks, we need to be conscious of the ways our responses can pass on a different kind of virus — one of panic and anxiety. That’s not necessary.
We can be aware of the current situation without being dominated by it, and we can think about it without obsessing over it. As Psalm 131:2 says, “I have calmed and quieted myself. I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.”
We can’t fake calmness, quietness, and contentment; and it’s the next verse from Psalm 131 that tells us the source of true confidence: “Put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.” God is the blazing ray of hope shining through the fear.
Times like these are priceless opportunities to trust the God who has witnessed plagues, wars, and natural disasters for centuries. Let’s not miss them.
We need to acknowledge that we have no control over this situation but we do have control over how we respond. And for those of us who believe in a God who is unseen and even more powerful than this unseen virus, we can rest assured that even when we’re facing scary, unanswered questions, He is there and we can be prepared without being terrified.
Check out my book, “Confessions of a Happily Married Man,” which tells the story of how God has worked in the ordinary (and extraordinary) of my marriage — and how you can see the ways He’s working in yours too. If you’d like to receive a weekly, spam-free email about finding God in the ordinary of life, you can sign up here.