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Don’t allow a physical pandemic to cause spiritual harm

FRANKLIN LIVING— How long has it been since all of us were focused on the same thing? Perhaps 9/11, a previous war effort or the day our nation lost President Kennedy? Because of the uncertainties and the serious nature of the threat it poses, the battle against COVID-19 has our collective attention like nothing in recent times.

While every battle should be elevated to the throne room of God through prayer, we’re being instructed that much of our success in this battle will come from doing nothing. Staying home. Doing life at a safe distance from other people. And while it is important to follow these instructions, there is an unintended consequence. While social distancing does protect us physically, it elevates our risk spiritually.

As our church buildings sit empty on Sunday mornings amid our attempts to create shared worship experiences via the internet, we have quickly realized something is missing. That “something” is each other. God designed us to thrive through being in relationship and spending time together, and we’ve been reminded we need each other even more during anxious and uncertain times. How do we minimize our fears and keep anxiety at bay when we seemingly have less to do and more time alone at home to think about everything?

First, expressing gratitude is always an excellent place to start. Psalm 92:1-2 reminds us that it is good to give thanks to the Lord by declaring his lovingkindness in the morning and his faithfulness by night. In other words, instead of beginning and ending the day with the latest round of scary news or mindless scrolling, how much better would it be to begin and end each by thanking God?

Similarly, Philippians 4:6-7 instructs Christians how to pray through anxious times. Paul writes, “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” The battle against this virus might be scary to us, but it isn’t a surprise to God. He is always our source of peace.

Finally, we can discipline ourselves to find the opportunities for good even though the circumstances are scary. Romans 8:28 reminds us God can climb into any situation and work for the good of those who love him. Philippians 2:4 instructs Christians to selflessly consider the needs of others. Good always results when we choose to serve someone in need.

For example, when we do have to get out, can we offer to pick up some groceries for a high-risk person who must stay at home? Imagine the loneliness for people who live alone and cannot get out at all. Imagine how a card or a phone call will brighten their day. Through leaning into Scripture and taking positive action, we can ensure this physical pandemic doesn’t result in a spiritual one, too.

Philip Goad began his work as minister at North Highlands Church of Christ in Russellville in March 2020. He is married to Marla, and they have a daughter, Kayla Thorne, who is married to Josh. They also have a son, Preston, and one grandchild, Greyson Thorne.