Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:27 ESV
Who doesn’t love a good Disney Pixar movie? Maybe with all of the self-quarantining going on, you will have the chance to watch a few. Probably none are more well known or beloved than the Toy Story series of movies. One of my favorite scenes from the original is when Buzz Lightyear and Sheriff Woody find themselves lost at a gas station and separated from their owner, Andy.
The anger, angst, and terror that wells up in Woody leads to the following exchange:
BUZZ: Sheriff, this is no time to panic.
WOODY: This is the perfect time to panic!
For many of us, the current reality of COVID-19 presents us with “the perfect time to panic!” It’s completely understandable. Just look at the list of concerns we face right now:
- Am I infected?
- Is a loved one infected?
- Have I infected someone else?
- Will I have to self-quarantine?
- If I self-quarantine and miss work, how will I pay the bills?
- What do I do with my kids while Oklahoma public schools are closed?
- WHO NEEDS THAT MUCH TOILET PAPER?
Obviously, this list is by no means exhaustive, because for every answered question, more questions arise. One only has to look at how drastically things have changed (not just in Oklahoma, but across our nation and around the globe) since the NBA game between the OKC Thunder and Utah Jazz was canceled last week. It is apparent that there is genuine cause for concern.
Cause for concern? Yes.
Reason to panic? No.
As followers of Christ, we profess faith in the one who defeated death and the grave. We worship an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God who spoke the universe into existence. We possess within us the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit that is greater than any earthly power, circumstance, or situation we will encounter in this life.
It turns out Buzz Lightyear is right: “This is no time to panic.”
Satan wants to use the current pandemic to sow fear, chaos, confusion (and worse) across the globe. Just as Peter took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the waves around him (Matthew 14), Satan wants to distract us from the source of our hope, joy, and contentment.
In response, we have the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), the very peace that Christ himself offers us. It is a peace that is all-sufficient, removing any need for troubled hearts or fear. We have the opportunity to be purveyors of peace. We can reflect the light and beauty of Jesus to friends, neighbors, and coworkers who are desperate to make sense out of the constantly-changing dynamics of COVID-19.
What can you do?
- Follow all the recommended guidelines, procedures, and protocols that our elected and appointed civil officials are giving us. Living without fear does not mean living recklessly!
- Call and check on those you know who may be at risk, especially the elderly.
- Serve where you can. That might mean something like picking up groceries, prescriptions, or other items for someone who is self-quarantined and leaving them on their doorstep.
- Pray for the health, wellbeing, and strength of all our medical professionals.
- Pray for the leadership of Crossings, Oklahoma, and our nation.
This is not some Pollyanna approach which denies the severity of COVID-19 and its risks. Not at all. Jesus told his disciples: “In this world you will (not maybe, not might, not possibly–a certainty) have trouble” (John 16:33). Following the Lord is not an exemption from the difficulties and hardships of life. You only need to look at the life of Paul, Job, or any Old Testament prophet to know we are not immune from the sickness, sorrow, and setbacks of life. Our lives and daily routines have been disrupted and the situation may even worsen. Who knows?
Well, God knows. Because we follow a Savior who has “overcome the world” (John 16:33), we know that no matter what comes next, he is still on the throne. He is still in control. Because of these truths, we can live in peace and not panic.
In my role at Crossings, I have the privilege of serving families as they journey through difficult seasons of life. They might face surgery, catastrophic illness, the death of a loved one, or maybe even their own end of life. Time and time again, I have had a front row seat as the Lord has shown up, transforming the atmosphere from tense and fearful to one of peace and hope. Not only have I witnessed it at work, but I have experienced God’s peace at work in my own difficult circumstances.
Genuine and lasting peace will not be found in the explanation of science, the skills of medical professionals, or the stirring oratory of politicians. Genuine and lasting peace–a peace that will sustain us through every storm of life–is only found in the presence of God.
Take time to dwell in his presence today. Dive deep into the biblical promises God makes to always be with us. Then, go and share with others–even while practicing safe distancing–who are in desperate need of peace.
Thank you for your presence with us in the middle of the storms of life. We praise you for being a God who is greater than disease, greater than fear, greater even than death itself. Lord, allow us to be still in your presence, so that we may be filled to overflowing with your peace and then take that peace to those around us who need it. Father, grant strength to our medical professionals and wisdom to our leaders, and empower us to live without fear, so that we can point others to the beauty of your son, Jesus.
Pastor of Pastoral Care
Looking for weekly encouragement? Sign up to receive each devotion via email or opt into notifications for the group “Devotions” in the Crossings App! You can also check out previous devotions at crossings.church/devotions.