Anxiety about the coronavirus is escalating. It has quickly moved from being a distant threat on the other side of the Pacific to the cause of widespread panic-buying and massive shutdowns that have begun to affect all of us. We have had a few good laughs over the run on toilet paper, but then there are the sobering headlines, stats, and predictions that make it all more scary than funny.
What do you do when life is suddenly and overwhelmingly uncertain? Obviously, we want to take the necessary precautions; but then what? Do we obsess over the latest updates and gloomiest predictions, letting fear fester in our thoughts?
I learned recently that Amazon Kindle tracks the books and passages that are most highlighted on e-reader devices. It is no surprise that the Bible is at the top of that list. In fact, there are several different translations of the Bible that rank among the most highlighted books. And in three of those translations, the most highlighted passage is the same: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7, NIV).
Take those words to heart. They remind us that our faith in God is for “every situation”—even the one that occupies today’s headlines. While we are unsure of what tomorrow holds, we know that “the Lord is near” (Phil. 4:5). As we turn to him, God stations his own peace in our minds and hearts where fear and worry tend to creep in and have their way. So, let’s spend more time talking to God about this virus than feeding our fear with an overdose of news. Let’s occupy our thoughts, as the Philippians passage goes on to prescribe, with the excellent and praiseworthy certainties of God’s good news. And, with fear and worry out of mind, let’s give thought to how we can love and serve and care for one another and our neighbors as needs escalate.