Every media and social outlet is talking about Covid-19 and its rapid spread across the globe. As of this writing, the CDC lists reported cases in 116 countries across the globe, and 1,215 cases confirmed in the United States with 36 deaths. Declared a worldwide pandemic by the World Health Organization yesterday, the situation is serious and people should be taking recommended precautions. There is a lot of fear surrounding this virus, and fear is a good motivator. It motivates people to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and others, especially the most vulnerable among us. To treat this situation flippantly would be neglectful. But, taking wise precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 for me is not motivated by fear. It is motivated by something very different.
In 2013, my family travelled to Kenya to visit my brother and his family who serve as missionaries at a remote hospital in the mountains overlooking the Great Rift Valley. Our five children at the time, were ages 6-13. Just days before we were to leave Kenya, four masked gunmen entered the Westgate Shopping mall in Nairobi and began a shooting, and grenade attack that resulted in 71 deaths and 200 people seriously injured. Hearing of this attack, I became almost paralized by fear. We were supposed to spend a day in Nairobi sightseeing before flying home.
My mind raced with scenarios where we came face to face with a gunman, and I imagined what might happen if my husband and I were killed, but our children somehow survived. Who would take care of them in that moment? How would they be reunited with family or make it back to the US without us? Yet, it was unavoidable. We had to spend that 12 hours in Nairobi in order to get back to the US. We took precautions. Instead of sightseeing, we reserved a room at a guest house in Nairobi where we could just rest, have a meal, and wait for our ride to the airport. I made sure that contact information for my brother was in all of our kids carry-on backpacks should something happen to us. We took these precautions and they helped me feel somewhat better about our situation. But I still had to deal with the root of my fear.
I was afraid of dying. I was afraid of my children dying.
I had to come to grips with those fears.
As I prayed about our situation, part of Psalm 23 came to mind, “Though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” This well known and much loved Psalm reminded me in that moment of who I am. I am a royal child of God, created to know and be loved by him, and to make him known to the world. This world is not my permanent home, but I’ve been left here on this earth so that God’s love can be shown through me to a hurting and dying world who doesn’t know him yet. God is with me continually, whatever I face. And when my time here on earth is done, God will usher me home to live with Him in heaven.
I don’t need to be afraid of dying, because what lies beyond for me is much better, a life that is eternal with God. And if the Lord chose to take my entire family home to heaven on that day in Nairobi, it would have been quite an awesome final destination for our already incredible trip together.
This Coronavirus pandemic is reminding people all over the world that our lives are temporary. Each one of us will die someday. Fear is currently gripping people’s hearts worldwide as we attempt to counteract the spread of this virus. Empty store shelves, and cancelled events, colleges moving to online courses. People will be staying home more needing to fill their time. They’ll need things to watch, and things to read. Let’s give them the only truth that can offer them real and lasting peace in this troubling time.
I’m not afraid of the Coronavirus. Fear won’t paralyze me this time. Fear isn’t going to motivate me, but something much great will: love. I’m taking and respecting cautions, not because I am afraid, but because I am doing what is most loving for my neighbors. It’s similar to the reason why I get flu shots. I’m not afraid of getting the flu, but I choose to get the vaccine for the benefit of the vulnerable population around me, especially those who may not know that their eternity is better than today.
Friend, if you are currently paralyzed by fear right now, can I just speak a few words into your life? This moment is a gift from God to you. It’s a moment for you to contemplate the meaning of your life. I’m here to tell you with absolute confidence that you were created by an all knowing, all loving God who wants a relationship with you right now. He is calling you into a journey with Him that is more than you could ever imagine! The Bible says that we are separated from God because of our wrong doing, but the good news is that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Maybe you have heard it before, but I ask you to read these words from John 3:16 with fresh eyes and ears, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but will have eternal life.”
All seven of us arrived home safely from our trip to Kenya in 2013. The trip was life transforming and resulted in big changes in our hearts and lives, and the addition of a children’s book, The Marvelous Mud House, a 6th “baby” for me. Life has been an adventure greater than I could have ever dreamed for, and when God is ready to call me home, I am ready. I am praying for a outpouring of faith and love that would replace fear across our country and the world. Let’s be wise. Wash your hands. Keep two week supplies of necessities. Cancel all the things. Stay home with your family. Enjoy the slower pace of life. But, do these things out of love for your neighbor, not fear. I’m choosing to react with love instead of fear in the face of this global pandemic. I hope others will too.