“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.” Philippians 4:6-7
Context is everything. You can be a millionaire who works in New York City, with a summer home in the Hamptons. Your plan is to work from that home with stockpiled food and supplies during the coronavirus pandemic. From this context, you can quote Apostle Paul about praying and having the peace of God. “OR” you can be in Paul’s situation, writing from prison, uncertain what the future holds, and contemplating whether he will live or die… Metaphorically, we too, may feel like we are in prison (quarantined), uncertain what the future will look like, and contemplating mortality within and around our community.
But as followers of Christ, our perspective and hope should be different from that of a society that is gripped by fear and anxiety. And what is that hope? It is that, “in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) This means that regardless of how this situation plays out, God WILL WORK GOOD in and through us, even when times are bad. Financial losses, a compromised quality of life, sickness, and even death do not get the last word. God will bring hope, healing, and life out of fear, sickness, and even death. Another way of saying this is that no matter what happens, God is in control of my life and God’s plans for me are always good and redemptive! Even though I walk through the valley of shadow and death, I fear no evil. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me! (Psalm 23)
Perhaps the greatest example for me of Christ-like living was my grandmother. Despite growing up as a single mother of four children during the Korean War, she always had a peace and joy that emanated from her being. She would live with our family and I would share a bedroom with her during the summers. I found it intriguing that she turned my closet into a prayer space and would go in there for hours at a time, praying to God. Sometimes her prayers would be quiet, sometimes more urgent. I would hear laughter and at other times weeping. Even though I was young, I remember making the connection that her peace and joy were inseparable from her praying.
There are many practical steps we need to take to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. Jesus says be as cunning as serpents but as wise as doves. We need to take smart steps like social distancing and proper hygiene. But as people of faith, we are also called to combat our fears with prayer and trust. We cast all our cares upon Jesus, for He cares for us. In the end, we trust that our lives are always in the palms of our Heavenly Father, who loves us more than we can ever imagine! Friends, may your fears be calmed and may your faith arise. Almighty God is with us and will work all things for good!