Abundant Life in the Age of COVID-19
by Jeanne Damoff, Secretary of The Lulu Tree
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Matthew 6:27
For some people, security means extra locks on the windows and doors, video cameras inside and out, and maybe a big dog with a booming bark, like an exclamation mark on the warning, “Don’t even think about messing with me!”
But then something like COVID-19 comes along. A small, invisible intruder that can hide anywhere, hitching a ride into your castle fortress on your own shoulder, briefcase, or shoe. And suddenly security looks like donning a face mask for a frantic dash to Costco and then trying to find a place to store a year’s worth of pasta, several cases of hand sanitizer, and 150 rolls of Charmin.
Our defenses of choice change with the changing face of the enemy, but one thing remains the same: we don’t like feeling out of control. And the more out of control we feel, the more irrational we become in our fear.
But the truth is, nothing has changed with the advent of this virus. At least not in terms of our level of control. We never had any. Not really. Sure, we can and should be wise in the way we conduct our lives. We don’t keep sharp knives where the toddler can reach them. We don’t walk alone at night in a neighborhood known for high crime. We wash our hands for a full twenty seconds multiple times a day. But when it comes to holding death at bay, we are powerless. We can’t add a single hour to our life span by stockpiling toilet paper. Every beat of our hearts and every breath drawn into our lungs is grace alone.
And it’s a gift of God when we realize it.
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
Jesus modeled a lot of radical lifestyle choices during His time on earth. He had no place to lay His head. He relied on the generosity of others. He said, if someone asks for your jacket, give him your shirt, too. There was nothing self-protective in what He taught or what He did. He was the King of the universe, but He took the place of a servant. And His instruction to His followers was to go and do likewise.
So, how do we as the people of God navigate a world-wide pandemic? First, we believe what we say we believe. God is good. He is sovereign. He is with us. And He is in this. What is He doing? More than we will ever fully comprehend. But one thing is certain. He is reminding the entire planet that we are frail mortals, that our most dangerous enemies are the ones we share in common, and that, when it comes to matters of life and death, the ground is completely level. No amount of money, prestige, fame, or privilege can buy immunity to this microscopic menace. God is reminding us we’re not Him, and it’s His mercy to do so.
Also? He’s giving us an opportunity to love our neighbors like never before. It starts with obeying Philippians 4:6-7.
“Do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.”
We give our own fears to God and then pray fervently for our terrified, suffering world — especially the most vulnerable: the elderly, those with weakened immune systems, people who’ve lost jobs or who live from paycheck to paycheck and literally can’t afford to stay home from work, small business owners, etc. We pray, pleading with our loving God to move in power and thanking Him for the redemption we know is coming.
And then we go forth in His beautiful, unexplainable peace to perform simple acts of service to the needy among us. Pick up groceries or prescriptions for an elderly neighbor. Comfort with words over the phone when social distancing discourages hugs. If you have a need, don’t feel ashamed to make it known. And if you have two of something someone needs, give one away. In other words, be the church.
When God provided manna in the wilderness for the Israelites, He said it was to test them. (Exodus 16) Would they trust Him? Would they do as He said — collecting what they needed for one day and not saving any over night? Would they collect double on the sixth day and rest on the Sabbath? They failed on all accounts. They tried to store manna overnight, and it bred worms and stank. Some went out to gather on the seventh day, but they found none. They didn’t trust Him or do as He said. But God still fed them with manna for forty years.
Maybe COVID-19 is our test. Will we trust that God values us more than the birds and flowers? Will we love our neighbors as generously as we love ourselves? Will we hoard our precious toilet paper supply, or will we recognize what it represents and relinquish our desperate grasp for control, feeling the weight of anxiety fall off our shoulders as we shift our trust to the God who promises to provide everything we need?
The whole world is gripped with fear. We know the One who not only offers them calm in the storm, He died that they might live forever. Will we hide, self-protecting in our over-stocked fortresses, or will we wear the mantle of peace He offers, sharing our abundance while joyfully giving an account for the hope that is in us?
COVID-19 is an unprecedented event and an unprecedented opportunity. Beautiful bride of Jesus, go in peace to love and serve the Lord by loving and serving the least. And know this, beloved. He is with you even to the end of the age.
And He alone gets to decide when that is.
We know these are hard times for a lot of people, and we’d be honored to pray with you about the specific challenges you’re facing. Please send prayer requests to our partner care coordinator, Norah, and we promise our team will pray. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for praying for our African family. They are all safe but they are in a similar situation as us — everything is shut down, and they are forced to lean harder than ever on the Lord. They are praying for you too. We will update you soon on how we as The Lulu Tree are responding to COVID-19. Bless you.