Coronavirus Fear: How to Find Peace During a Deadly Pandemic 

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In Summary: During this time of the rampaging coronavirus pandemic, it is understandable and easy to let fear grip our hearts.  Fear of sickness. Fear of loss. Fear of the unknown. The news and the statistics about those killed by the disease, those infected and fighting for their lives, and everybody threatened with possible infection are not helping matters. Instead, they are amplifying the fear, sense of loss, and anxiety. For example, worldwide, coronavirus cases are soaring and have passed the two million mark with over 163, 000 deaths. Only about 609, 000 people have recovered so far. In the United States, the declared coronavirus cases  have surged to more than 300,000 by far the highest of any country, according to a Johns Hopkins tally, and about 9,000 deaths. That is more than the 3,310 fatalities reported by China. In these circumstances, fear and  anxiety become inevitable. But when fear and anxiety try to invade our every thought, there is a C.A.L.M. that comes only from God—Celebrate. Ask. Leave. Meditate.

Pastor Max Lucado. Amidst the widespread fear and anxiety, renown “American pastor” and teacher Max Lucado offers words of encouragement to all the afflicted and infected.

San Antonio, TexasIn times like this, it is easy to let fear grip our hearts.  Fear of sickness. Fear of loss. Fear of the unknown. But when fear and anxiety try to invade our every thought, there is a C.A.L.M. that comes only from God. If you wonder about your ability to fight fear, remember there is a pathway out of the valley of worry.  God used the pen of Paul to sketch the map with the most underlined verse in the Bible.

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentleness be known to all men.  The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:4–8).

People in medical suits dance for patients. In a mass-quarantine center in Wuhan, the mega city where this coronavirus first emerged, women turned to karaoke to lift the spirits of sequestered groups. Rather than focus on the negative, they found comfort in music.(Photograph by Wang Yuguo / Xinhua).

A person would be hard-pressed to find a more practical, powerful, and inspirational passage on the topic of anxiety. The passage has four key points that spell out the word CALM to help you remember.

C = Celebrate God’s goodness. “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!”  (Philippians 4:4). Turn your attention away from the problem, and for a few minutes celebrate God. It does you no good to obsess yourself with your trouble.  The more you stare at it, the bigger it grows. Yet the more you look to God, the quicker the problem is reduced to its proper size. This was the strategy of the psalmist:

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth (Psalms. 121:1–2).

Do you see the intentionality in those words?  “I will lift up my eyes.”  Do not meditate on the mess. You gain nothing by setting your eyes on the problem. You gain everything by setting your eyes on the Lord. Is God sovereign over your circumstances?  Is he mightier than your problem?  Does he have answers to your questions? According to the Bible the answer is yes, yes, and yes.

Rejoice in the Lord. This is step one. Do not hurry past it. Face God before you face your problem. Then, you will be ready.

A = Ask God for help. “Let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).  Fear triggers either despair or prayer.  Choose wisely. God said, “Call on me in the day of trouble” (Psalms 50:15). Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). There is no uncertainty in that promise. No “might,” “perhaps,” or “possibly will.” Jesus states unflinchingly that when you ask, he listens.

So ask! When anxiety knocks on the door, say, “Jesus, would you mind answering that?”  Reduce your request to one statement.  Imitate Jesus, who taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).  Engage in specific prayer.  And engage in promise-based prayer.  Stand on the firm foundation of God’s covenant.  “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence” (Hebrews 4:16).

Having done so:

L = Leave your concerns with God. Let him take charge.  Let God do what he is so willing to do: “Guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Have you ever left an appliance at the repair shop?  You tried to fix it but had no success.  So you took it to the specialist.  You explained the problem, and then:

  • offered to stay and help fix it;
  • hovered next to the workbench asking questions about progress;
  • threw a sleeping bag on the floor of the workshop so you could watch the repairman work.

If you did any of these things, you don’t understand the relationship between client and repairman. The arrangement is uncomplicated.  Leave it with him to fix it. Our protocol with God is equally simple. Leave your problem with him. God does not need our help, counsel, or assistance. (Please repeat this phrase: I hereby resign as ruler of the universe.) When he is ready for us to reengage, he will let us know.

Until then, replace anxious thoughts with grateful ones. God takes thanksgiving seriously.

Here’s why: gratitude keeps us focused on the present. We worry about the past — what we said or did.  We worry about the future — tomorrow’s assignments or the next decade’s developments. Anxiety takes our attention from the right now and directs it “back then” or “out there.” But when you aren’t focused on your problem, you have a sudden availability of brain space. Use it for good.

M = Meditate. Meditate on good things. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

Don’t let anxious, negative thoughts take over your mind.  You cannot control the circumstances, but you can always control what you think of them. Celebrate. Ask. Leave. Meditate. C.A.L.M. Could you use some calm? We could all use a word of comfort and God is ready to give it. It is not God’s will that you lead a life of perpetual anxiety. He has made you for more than this season of breath-stealing angst and mind-splitting worry.

With His help, you can sleep better tonight. You can reframe the way you face your fears. By His power, you can “be anxious for nothing” and discover the “peace … which passes all understanding.”

Dear Lord,

You spoke to storms. Would you speak to ours? You calmed the hearts of the apostles. Would you calm the chaos within us? You told them to fear not. Say the same to us. We are weary from our worry, battered from the gales of life. Oh Prince of Peace, bequeath to us a spirit of calm. Quench anxiety. Stir courage. Let us know, fret less, and more faith.

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