A few weeks ago I was watching my normally hyperactive and vivacious 10-year-old stepdaughter lie on the sofa, cough, and breathe heavily.
When the doctor said “pneumonia,” I’ll admit I panicked. Sure, we were just hearing rumblings of ‘The Chinese Virus’.
But it wasn’t too many years ago my other stepdaughter was flown to Children’s Hospital and spent a week on a respirator recovering from pneumonia.
I texted her mom and asked her to come to visit the next day. I hadn’t even given birth to her and I was struggling. I knew her mom would want to see she was okay with her own eyes.
I was afraid.
Two weeks later, I walked into my driveway to see my late-50’s mother slumped in the driver’s seat of her car.
She was too tired and too sick to get out of her car and walk 10 feet into her home.
I begged her to go to the doctor. We were looking at a pandemic and she showed all the signs.
It took a few days, but she was eventually diagnosed with pneumonia.
And I was afraid again.
I spent nights lying awake fearing she wouldn’t wake up with us in the morning. It’s been weeks and I still worry. I’m still hounding her to take care of herself.
But really, it doesn’t matter what the test says.
She was and is sick. My stepdaughter was sick.
I have family and friends who are at high risk.
My niece will be born in a few weeks into a world we no longer recognize.
Gosh, even I’m high risk. And I’ve been tired and coughing for a few days now.
Yes, I’m afraid.
God said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” ( John 14:27)
But is that enough? It needs to be.
Because right now we’re struggling.
We know, in our rational minds, that all the hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and toilet paper in the world will not be a greater comfort than God in these times.
We know that “this too shall pass” and the world will resume, looking mostly like something we recognize.
But there is darkness and fear in the world. Social media and news is a madhouse of doom and gloom.
And it would be extremely easy to give in to the fear that’s been chipping away at our peace.
So the question is, will we let it?
Will we scared parents let this steal our peace?
Will the children of older parents live in fear? Will we sacrifice our peace worrying about our grandparents?
The answer should be an emphatic “No.”
And it’s not because we don’t care. We care deeply about our friends and family and world.
But, in the amazing words of Zach Williams, “Fear is a liar.”
Fear Is a Liar by Zach Williams
… that our future is being threatened.
… that medical aide won’t be available for our loved ones.
… that our children are missing out on too much school. That we won’t be able to teach them.
… that food is scarce and we need to horde.
And variations of these things may be true. We are living in a new world.
But the bigger truth is this.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of [it], for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
Moses spoke these words to the Israelites as they were being handed over to Joshua before crossing the Jordan River. And if you think they weren’t afraid for themselves and their families…well… you’ve probably never read the story of the Israelites.
The point is, God is before us. He cares for us more than we can imagine. And He is always with us.
Even in the midst of the first pandemic of this century.
So yes, I will allow my fear to make me a better (step)parent in quarantine. The push for isolation will encourage me to take better care of the people I love. I will watch for symptoms and make everyone wash their hands 10 billion times.
But I won’t be giving up my peace. That deep peace comes from knowing the Lord is in control and cares about me.
Because the Lord is with us, just as he was before Coronavirus. Nothing has changed there.
We’ll say our prayers, love each other a little more and reach out to those who need help. We’ll focus on the thousands of acts of kindness that have been shown in recent days.
We’ll mourn with those who have lost loved ones.
And when this has passed, fear will be packed away and we’ll be thankful that it made us into better people.
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