by Rahel Bosson
Jesus warned us of what was to come when he said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). But he did not stop there. He continued, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.” Jesus offers peace amidst the storm, peace when COVID-19 moves from an outbreak to an epidemic to a pandemic plaguing almost every continent.
In the midst of our world turning upside down in the blink of an eye—school closures, travel bans, restaurants shutting down, stock markets crashing, and breaking news every hour arresting our attention—it is very easy to lose the perspective of the eternal and feel like life is spiraling out of control.
And yet, we also see that when Christ was led to the cross it seemed, at first glance, that He was no longer in control and was at the mercy of men.
Things looked hopeless when Pilate asked Jesus, ”Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” (John 19:10). How Christ responds to Pilate, though, gives us proper perspective into how we should conduct ourselves as believers when we feel powerless. He replies, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” (John 19:11).
So, in light of Jesus’ response to Pilate, how do we maintain a sound mind amidst the COVID-19 pandemic? Here are a few suggestions:
See life in light of God’s truth. Understand that although it may feel like things are out of our control, the truth is we were never in control. Power lies in the hands of a God who loved us enough to send His son to the cross. We can trust Him in our time of need!
Pray and pray often. The Bible tells us to call upon the Lord
in the day of trouble, and He will rescue us (Ps. 50:15). Prayer reorients our hearts from only thinking about ourselves and our circumstances to seeing ourselves and our circumstances in light of a good God, who never slumbers or sleeps (Ps. 121:4).
Meditate on and read the Scriptures. The Word of God is our source of life and hope. How can we be comforted by the promises of God found in Psalm 91 unless we read his Word? Famed philosopher Immanuel Kant once said, “The Bible is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. A single line in the Bible has consoled me more than all the books I ever read besides.”
Take a break from the news and social media. I am not suggesting that you ignore the news, but you need to take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to new stories. The constant barrage of negative news media can be jolting and upsetting to say the least. Read and focus on other things. Studies show that traits such as optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. Having a positive attitude is also in line with what Scripture tells us, namely that we should think on “...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”. (Phil. 4:8). There is power in having a spirit of praise—it turns the eyes of mortal souls towards the everlasting God and gives broken hearts the strength to believe and hope.
Stay connected. God has made us social beings. He instructs us not to neglect meeting together to encourage one another. Social distancing notwithstanding, our world today provides ample ways in which we can stay connected (e.g., Zoom, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and phone calls). Take advantage of these means to connect with those you love, including your church family.
Go for a walk. Research has shown that experiencing nature has an abundance of health benefits. One study done at Stanford in 2015 showed that people who walked in nature experienced less anxiety, rumination, and negative effects. They also experienced more positive emotions.
Remember you are not alone. Seek help if you need it. Talk to family, friends, pastors, and mental health providers.
Especially in this season of Lent, it’s important to remember that Christ, though left to die a humiliating death on the cross, did not remain there. He conquered sin and the grave. That same Christ is the one who promised peace in the midst of pestilence. We can take heart because, yes, He has overcome the world.