Panic, Social Distancing, and the Good News of the Gospel: Doing what we can while we wait for what’s next

We are living in a time of unprecedented upheaval. We’ve never seen anything like this in our lifetime. And if you have not been directly impacted by COVID-19 you are going to start feeling the effects of all this very soon, as our economy seems to be coming to a grinding halt.

I say all of that not to cause you extra stress, but to draw attention to the fact that you don’t need to drown in worry and anxiety (Phil. 4:6). Yes, things may become difficult very soon, but as God’s people, we’ve been prepared for this! That doesn’t mean that these next weeks will be easy. It does mean that we still have a message of hope for a world that’s in panic mode. And we still have good works to do that have been prepared for us in advance (Eph. 2:10).

Social-distancing is the buzzword right now. We are being told to leave some space between ourselves and everyone around us. The first thing I want to say about this is: DO IT! Take this seriously. Other countries that have not taken this seriously enough are now paying a very high price in the loss of human life.

The second thing I want to say is this: social distancing is going to have – is already having – some very bad side effects. We were created by God for community and fellowship. When we are isolated, when we are prevented from being in the presence of other humans who love us, we are at much greater risk of depression and other mental health issues. As a pastor I am already beginning to see this. People who are at 9 on the anxiety meter are being pushed past 10 by this crisis and the panic surrounding it.

So let me remind you again to use the tools that we’ve been given to make contact. Galatians 6:2 tells us to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” If you have friends that struggle with depression and mental health, call them now and call regularly. Send a text, ask them if you can get onto FaceTime or Skype or Zoom with them.

Don’t waste this crisis. Take time to pray. Go for a walk. Enjoy your family. And help those in need. This is not a time to sit on our hands and worry. This is a time to put our hands to work.

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