Of course, as Christian people, we pray for the alleviation of illness, suffering, and death. And we follow the reliable directions of public health officials to prevent the spread of disease and its consequences. We exercise prudence. The second half of the headline for this article (gleaned from a Facebook meme) reflects that reality.
But the first half of the headline has something to say to us as well. “Keep Calm.” That’s something for us to remember regardless of the status of the coronavirus, whenever there’s a situation, circumstance, or issue that proves particularly challenging.
Because of our faith, Christian people are called to be a non-anxious presence in a world filled with anxiety. As if the threats aren’t scary enough, the rapidity with which information—and misinformation—is shared ratchets up the anxiety in many to almost unbearable levels. I was struck by another Facebook-gleaned piece, this time a cartoon. A man is sitting at his computer and talking to his wife. The caption reads: “That’s odd: My Facebook friends who were constitutional scholars just a month ago are now infectious disease experts…” The terror, whatever it may be, is always right in our faces, isn’t it?
To which Jesus would reply: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?…Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:25-34, selected verses, ESV).
And why not be anxious? Peter reminds us that we can cast all our anxieties on God, “because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 ESV). God has shown his ability to make order out of chaos. When God first created the world, it was primordial chaos (Genesis 1:1) from which God formed perfect order. And when Adam and Eve destroyed the perfection that God had created by their sin, God sent his Son to be our Savior. The cross is the ultimate evidence of exactly how much God cares for us.
It’s not that some circumstances of life aren’t bad. They are bad. Perhaps the coronavirus will be more devastating than it already has been. But we have a God who takes devastating things and makes great things come from them. The cross is evidence of that, too. Check out Romans 8:28 again if you need to.
So keep calm and wash your hands. Sometimes there’s actually some good advice on Facebook!
By Rev. Dr. Jon Braunersreuther
Mission & Ministry Facilitator Area D