This last couple of weeks the new virus called COVID-19 is catching everyone’s attention. As a ministry that holds events and sends speakers (including my husband) out to travel, it is on our radar to prayerfully consider what steps we need to take in response.
As I have researched and followed the breaking stories, I have been telling myself not to get freaked out. I thought I was doing a decent job not falling into fear, but when I sat down for my quiet time today I had to admit to God that I am scared. Aside from the actual possibility of contracting the virus, all of the uncertainty and unknown has me feeling quite unsettled.
It seems there are lots of things in the world to make us feel unsettled lately. Potential for wars, earthquakes, floods, tornados, and a pandemic virus spreading across the globe that is more than 10 times deadlier than the flu. All of these calamities leave me wishing Jesus would come soon!
As I was talking to Jesus about the fears of all of the unknown and the increasing number of disasters around the world, I felt like He flipped the switch in my brain to see things from a different perspective. Suddenly I saw all of these hardships as part of His mercy. That in the face of these scary circumstances, people are brought face to face with the reality of eternity. For those who do not know God, this encounter with thoughts of our mortality and eternity provides an opportunity for God to reach them with His love. For those who know God, this encounter with fearful circumstances provides an opportunity for His peace to flood through us in the face of fear.
When God’s people can reflect His character in the face of calamity and respond to fearful circumstances with God’s peace and perspective, it catches others’ attention. We are reflecting Him to those who may not have seen the loving, peaceful side of God before. Jesus comforted the disciples by saying, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
In order to reflect God’s peace, we need to have received it from Him and feel His presence with us. This is not the same thing as deciding not to be scared, being disconnected from our emotions or not making a big deal out of the circumstances. These circumstances are scary. There is a chance of losing a loved one, which would create intense pain.
God also showed me that losing a loved one is especially scary when we aren’t seeing things from His perspective. When we see things through the eyes of this world, our lives are all about this world, and our attachments are in this world. It is devastating to think of living in this world without the ones we love; living in this world without them would be incredibly painful. When we know that the separation is only temporary and we will be reunited in Heaven, our despair is a little less–like the pain of my husband going away on a long trip, but knowing I will see him again.
God reminded me that this life is just a shadow of our life to come in Heaven. We live in tulip country here in Michigan. A picture came to mind of a tulip field on an overcast day. The colors are bright and beautiful, but then the sun peeks out from behind a cloud, and suddenly the colors are transformed. The colors of a moment ago seem dull and muted compared to the brilliance of the colors in the sunlight (like the contrast in the picture above). He reminded me that this is like our perspective in this life. Our life here feels bright and beautiful, but when we get to Heaven, we will realize how dull and muted life on this earth is compared to the brilliant joy of Heaven. (“For now we see in a mirror darkly, but then face to face. “ 1 Corinthians 13:12)
If you are feeling unsettled, I would encourage you to seek the peace that only Immanuel’s presence and perspective bring. Even the words in my blog will fall short of how the experience felt for me because the words came from God while He also flooded me with His peace and I felt the nearness of His presence. I pray you take the time to seek His peace and presence yourself to receive what He has just for you.
For more resources on this check out Passing the Peace , Share Immanuel , Joyful Journey and Relational Skills in the Bible.