“Don’t Look Now…” Those are the words uttered by Ernie the taxi driver in It’s a Wonderful Life when a run on the banks ensues. Now, I know the movie reference is a little out of season, but as one of my all-time favorite films, I think there’s a lot we learn from it as we deal with the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. George Bailey, in an effort to save the Bailey Building and Loan, teaches us four important lessons: Do not fear, think clearly, prepare well, and remember, we’re in this together, and that’s how we’ll get through it.
1.) Do Not Fear
Borders closed, travel impacted, empty stadiums, closed parks, and cancelled seasons and schools… daily life is changing quickly, and the pace quickens as shelves empty and stocks fall.Fear can easily take hold of us, but as Christ followers we’re called to walk by faith. Philippians 4: 6-7 says, “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.”
2.) Think Clearly
It’s important to stay informed with accurate information.Proverbs 18: 15 says, “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.”Don’t let yourself be consumed by sensational news stories or overwhelmed by the latest posts and tweets full of misinformation and speculation.
Today I met with leaders in city government, healthcare, schools, churches, and local business from all over O’Fallon, and we heard the latest news about the virus and our community’s preparedness for whatever may happen here. Some of the good news is there are NO reported cases of COVID-19 in St. Clair or Madison County, our schools remain open as leaders continue to evaluate the situation in collaboration with local and state officials, and You can also stay informed by checking out excellent resources like the CDC (Centers for Disease Control).
3.) Prepare Well
Some of the best and simplest things you can do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 is wash your hands thoroughly, cover your coughs, avoid touching your face, stay home if you’re not feeling well, and avoid crowds if you’re among the more vulnerable segments of our population, including older adults, those with suppressed immune systems, and those with other health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, etc.
We’re implementing some precautionary practices at church. 1) No “passing of the peace,” 2) Our communion practices will be changed significantly, 3) we’ll be wiping down doorknobs, handrails, and other common surfaces frequently, 4) hand sanitizer and wipes will be readily available for all to use, and when necessary, 5) activities will be cancelled when necessary, like “Be Like Jesus.”
Our leadership will continue to monitor the situation, and adjustments will be made as necessary.
4.) Remember – We’re In This Together
You may be thinking this situation is really being blown out of proportion.“I’m health and strong, and everyone I know around me is fine, so why are the things I really want to do being cancelled?” I read an article titled, “This Can Be Our Finest Hour-But We Need All Of You,” by Gretchen Schmelzer, in which she wrote, “this isn’t like other illnesses and we don’t get to act like it is. It’s more contagious, it’s more fatal—and most importantly, even if it can be managed. It can’t be managed at a massive scale—anywhere. We need this thing to move slowly enough for our collective national and worldwide medical systems to hold the very ill so that all of the very ill can get taken care of.” The extra caution is our national and global effort to keep this from becoming something even worse.The more we do now to prevent the spread of COVID-19 the better our world will be later.Am I willing to be inconvenienced to help the most vulnerable among us stay safe? You bet I am. The Apostle Paul teaches us that we are the body of Christ, and as such, “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).
In seminary they never taught me how to pastor a church through a pandemic. Things are happening fast and changing all the time. Where and when will it end, I don’t know. But as George Bailey said, “we can get through this thing alright… we’ve got to stick together.” As Scripture says it, even though we are facing many hardships and danger… “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37) For nothing life throws at us will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Pastor Don Long