It's March 12, 2020 and as of today, this photo is what fear looks like. Yes, that's right, the last roll of toilet paper. I am writing this because my heart is aching right now at the hopelessness and fear that has grabbed hold of the world.
In mid January, we were introduced to a new virus called Coronavirus also called COVID-19. I lived through the bird flu, I lived through swine flu and even the Ebola outbreak. But this particular one has people in complete panic.
Today, I was out doing my regular grocery shopping, I couldn't believe how empty the shelves were. I went to four places and each place there was a limited supply or no supply of basic necessities. I had heard the stories of toilet paper hoarding, but didn't think it was really happening in my community. At least the last time I was at the store the shelves were stocked. But today, there was a spirit of fear that seemed to sit on those shelves. It wasn't just empty shelves of toilet paper, the food aisles were also bare. I could not believe what I was feeling as I stood there in the middle aisle as people shoved and pushed one another. Actually, I was stuck because there was a lady on her phone talking about the empty shelves, not paying attention to the people around her and her cart was in the middle of the aisle. A lady behind me said, "can I get by?" It was then I realized how selfish we as humans really are. When we are faced with fear, we become so self absorbed that others don't matter anymore. That's why all the hoarding of basic needs. We don't care if others have their needs met, we just want to make sure we're protected.
As I stood there in that aisle, my heart sank and all I could do was pray and ask the Lord to help us. As a follower of Jesus, I am not supposed to live in fear. I must confess, I do get fearful more than I should about things, but for some reason this is different. I'm not afraid of getting this virus. I'm not afraid of death. What I am concerned is that people who call themselves Christians would play right into fears hands. If we as people of faith fall into this trap of panic, then we are hypocrites. The Bible is the word of God and if we conform to the fear, then we are saying God has no power or authority and His word is void (Isaiah 55:11NLT). We should be the ones bringing hope to the lost. Romans 15:13 says, "Our
hope comes from God. May He fill you with joy and peace because of your
trust in Him. May your hope grow stronger by the power of the Holy
Spirit." It's in these times that we should rise above the occasion and share, but even more "be" the love of God. "There is no fear in love. Perfect love puts fear out of our hearts. People have fear when they are afraid of being punished. The man who is afraid does not have perfect love." (1 John 4:18 NIV)
I want to encourage the Body of Christ that it's times like these that we need to shine like a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14). We need the joy of the Lord to be our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). The harvest is becoming ripe (Luke 10:2). I want to challenge us to speak the word of God out loud daily over our lives, to share the good news of Jesus with the fearful. We've been praying for a revival, it's in these times that it happens. You see, God wants every "last one" of us to experience His love, glory, grace and mercy and ultimately dwell in eternity with Him. He does not want any one to perish (2 Peter 3:9).
Let me encourage you today to live as children of light (Ephesians 5:8). Proverbs 17:22 says that a "joyful heart is good medicine." We can give those who are afraid a dose of joy. Let's overcome this fear with faith and panic with peace. Let the love of Jesus become an epidemic and see lives changed and hope restored to every last one.
(Empty shelves photo: Christy Alesi)