Things are happening so fast it’s hard to stay up-to-date. As the coronavirus continues to spread and fear increases, how do we lead ourselves to remain in God’s rest and confident in His promises and His presence?
The coronavirus (COVID-19) is now classified as a pandemic (a global outbreak of disease). The word “recession” is being heard, schools and businesses are closing, entire counties are being told to stay-at-home, and the White House recommended no gatherings over 10 people.
How do we live well in times of crisis, and in a way that imparts hope instead of fear and panic?
A Symptom of Fear is Panic.
When you go to the grocery store, half the shelves are cleaned out…including of course no toilet paper. What is happening?! The root of this buying frenzy is fear. People are afraid stores are going to shut down, the food will be gone, and there won’t be enough to go around. So, they are stocking up!
People are creating shortages because they are buying things they don’t need!
Our fear of shortage is the very thing that creates a shortage.
So fears become a self-fulfilling prophecy!
Fear isn't a mystery. It’s a part of the fall of man a.k.a the result of sin. Remember the description of how Adam and Eve felt after God came looking for them in the garden? I think it's also a demonic spirit (see 2 Timothy 1:7). Like mentioned above, fear can cause us to act in such a way that brings about the very thing we fear!
Think about it. The alarm goes off and the fear begins… “I’ve got to get there first or everything might be gone! What if there is not enough? What if the grocery stores shut down? How will we eat? Where will we get food? I better get there before it’s all out. I need to buy extra in case I can’t get it later.
This current situation is truly exposing our deep heart beliefs. What DO you truly believe about God’s provision?
Fear is not rational. You can’t reason with it. You have to tell it to shut up! You have to replace it with truth. Emotions, fueled by fear, cause us to panic and do irrational things. Further, when you operate by fear, that which you fear often comes upon you.
Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Possibly for the first time in many people’s lives, this truth is being presented to people as a place of daily trust. I know it’s not comfortable, but it’s kingdom! And that daily trust removes all panic and fear.
So...don’t P.A.N.I.C. Here is a clever reminder to help us lead by faith rather than fear.
P – PRAY FOR YOURSELF
Strengthen yourself in the Lord!
Phillippians 4:6-7 Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.
Have we internalized this verse?
Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about all the things going on! Like the oxygen mask on a plane, leaders need to put their own mask on before helping others. If you are a mess how can you inspire confidence in someone else?
Don’t just talk about prayer, do it! Give Him your cares and burdens. Ask for what you need. Do it with thanksgiving to remind yourself of His faithfulness, and pray until you experience the tangible “peace that passes understanding.”
Remember, Paul wrote this from prison! The book of Phillippians has some gems God wants to teach us about joy in the midst of suffering and hardship.
A – ADVICE (FOLLOW SOUND ADVICE)
1 Chronicles 12:32 talks about the men of Issachar who understood the times, and through this had knowledge of what their country should do!
As followers of Jesus, we don’t ignore current events. As we live, we are also aware of God’s presence and voice at all times such that the “facts” don’t overwhelm our faith. So, keep abreast of what’s happening by following reliable sources that don’t traffic in fear. Be careful how much media you’re ingesting when difficult things are happening, and certainly limit your social media intake! Misinformation breeds fear.
Get varied perspectives and recognize that God puts authorities in place. It seems that the authorities in place believe what they are communicating and are NOT intentionally trying to harm or enslave us. Therefore it’s honoring to heed them.
Hearing the facts won’t eliminate fear. Hopefully, it will ensure that you are getting the most accurate up-to-date information. Whenever you feel you have heard God’s voice & direction, seek the advice/counsel of spiritually mature people you know and are currently walking with. God is consistent. He will confirm what He is saying to you through other people.
N – NO FEAR
There’s a decal some people put on the back of their trucks: NO FEAR
The problem is, it’s not true! Everyone has fears. Thankfully, God has a real answer to fear
I John 4:16-18 God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this (abiding presence), love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
As we become more and more like Christ, fear has less and less of a hold on us. That means:
We don’t have a fear problem, we have a love and trust problem.
Love conquers fear and so does faith. Fear must be replaced by faith. Remember how faith comes?
Faith comes by hearing the promises of God, and truly believing them. The scriptures are God's word which document His promises so we can have them in black-and-white (see Romans 10:17)!
Take the promises of God and decide if you really believe them! As you begin believing His promises in faith, you will displace fear in your life, and your confidence in God will grow. As Lester Sumrall said, “Feed your faith. Starve your doubts to death.”
I – INTERCESSION
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 4:18)
Pray Psalm 67. God be gracious to your people and bless us! Cause your face to shine upon us! So that your way may be known on the earth, your salvation, healing, and deliverance among all nations. Let all the people praise you, O God, let all the people praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!
Intercession is praying for other people, situations, problems, and circumstances.
Start by praying for other believers in your church, your neighborhood, your city, your nation, and worldwide. Pray for our medical professionals for stamina, health, and wisdom. Pray for our scientists – that they find a cure. Pray that God would give our government leaders wisdom from heaven. Pray that God would intervene and stop the spread of this virus.
Intercede for people around you that don’t know Him. Lift them before God like you would want to be prayed for. God often use difficult circumstances to open people’s hearts and turn them to Himself. Like always, God uses what the enemy meant for evil to do something good. He doesn’t cause evil, but He will flip it around on the enemies’ head!
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise (to return), as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. (2 Peter 3:9 NLT)
As was the case with Joseph when His brothers sold him into slavery, God turned it around for His own sovereign purpose: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20 NIV)
C – CARE ABOUT & CHECK-IN WITH PEOPLE
In difficult times, we can become so worried about self-preservation, we don’t think to check in with others. Do you have a neighbor that is elderly? Did you ever think about your older neighbor (who is in the most vulnerable category) is going to get groceries (if there are any left)? Is someone you know sick and in need of help? Who in your life or proximity do you need to check in with? Is it so hard to make a quick phone call or text? Ask yourself: Who can I be a good neighbor to?
It’s often said that the best way to stop feeling so bad about yourself, is to start caring about someone else.
Jesus meant it when He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Wouldn’t you want someone to be concerned for you and check in on you if you were in the same situation? Of course you would. So be a good neighbor and do it for someone else!
The church was never a building, an organization, or a place. It’s always been, people! That means you can be the church wherever you are!
Followers of Jesus:
The world needs you in moments like these.
Don’t get sucked into the panic and fear. Don’t bury your head and ignore it. Take a step back. Breathe. Pray. Get your face in the word of God and cry out for God to work through you in this hour of need.
P – Pray for Yourself
A – Advice (Follow Sound Advice)
N – No Fear
I – Intercession
C – Care for & Check-In with People
Disciples of Jesus...we need you to lead the way! Get in front of the issue. You may not be afraid, but many of the people you’re leading probably are. Fulfill your job description: inspire people, bring confidence, solve problems, and build big people.
God Is going to work through this crisis in unique and powerful ways. Stop hiding your lamp under a basket. The world needs you to shine.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:14-16 NLT)
This was adapated from a very encouraging post at kentmurawski.com