We live in unprecedented times. The recent coronavirus pandemic is like nothing I’ve seen in my 50 years on the planet. Thirty minutes scrolling through my Facebook feed today was enough to see plenty of frightening news. Empty grocery store shelves. Numbers of diagnosed cases rising in my state of Missouri and next door in Illinois. Major public music and sporting events cancelled. Schools shutting down. People talking about the end of the world. About the prudence of “social distancing” to avoid contracting or spreading the virus. My own church cancelling in-person services and starting to live stream from YouTube. I got up from my computer with a pit in my stomach. Fear was getting the best of me.
I had a choice to make. What was I going to focus on for the remainder of the day?
Of course, I want to be informed. Sticking my head in the sand and pretending this isn’t happening won’t lead to wise decisions. Other things that won’t lead to wise decisions? Anxious, racing thoughts. Expecting and worrying about worst possible outcomes. Allowing myself to get so stressed that my body responds negatively. Psychosomatically, even. I could quite literally worry myself sick, with the exact symptoms I’m hearing about. My thoughts are that powerful!
So, I fought the fear. I chose to capture all of my thoughts and give them to Christ. To cry out to Him to help me focus on the right things. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8) I chose to be present in the moment, to take a deep and cleansing breath, to center my thoughts and to be grateful. Grateful for my health, for my husband, for my family and friends, for my puppy dog, for the birds and bunnies in the backyard, for my Savior and His amazing love for me. On and on I poured out my grateful heart to the Lord and found myself feeling lighter, less burdened, able to think more clearly.
This choice was a decade in the making. In 2010 while we were still living in Phoenix, Clayton lost his job in the spring, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June, completed treatment in August, he moved to St. Louis for a job in October, I followed in December. I was anxious. I was worried. I was in physical pain. Every morning I would wake up and check the Facebook app on my phone before anything else. After months of that routine, I heard the Lord quietly speaking to my heart. First, He asked me to delete the Facebook app from my phone. Then, He invited me to spend time with Him first thing in the morning, reading His Word and journaling my prayers and thoughts.
Ten years later, I can tell you that one of my life verses is “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) The “things” that have been added to me are His presence, His wisdom, His counsel, His peace, His calm, His strength, His courage, and an intimate, heartfelt knowledge of my Savior that I never imagined I’d experience. He even helped me chronicle my journey with Him in my Catch a Falling Dream program. While I was writing and editing that program, I saw where His hand guided me my entire life. It helped me to trust Him even more, knowing what He’d brought me through.
Another choice I will make is to pray continuously, like never before. I pray that the Lord stops this pandemic in its tracks. I pray He gives the leaders of our nations wisdom and discernment; I can’t imagine the stress they are under. I pray for the overburdened medical personnel. I pray for the elderly in senior care homes, and the families who are currently unable to visit them. I pray for the people around the world who are grieving their losses. I pray for those who are fighting their own fears. I pray that He heals those who are sick. I pray that He draws people closer to Him through this. I pray that He helps me to focus on the right things. Because I can’t do everything that needs to be done. The needs are too overwhelming. But I can do something. I will focus on my Savior and my Counselor and He will lead me.