It seems like whenever crisis strikes, there are three main reactions that rise to the surface: people who panic, people who prepare or react with level-headedness, and people who scoff at both of those groups.
The most prominent example right now is that of the coronavirus. Some of you may have groaned internally reading that word again, but it’s bringing up an important question for Christians: How should we respond when panic is being both stirred up and mocked?
As Christians, we know we have access to the peace of God and can turn to God with any and every anxiety, every day of our lives. And absolute worst case? We go to Heaven. We get to be with our Heavenly Father. Our “worst case” scenario is still great.
But I want to ask Christians to pause for a second and reflect on how they and other Christians have responded so far to the hysteria surrounding the coronavirus. Have we been poking fun at other people? Or have we ourselves also been panicking?
There’s still a lot we don’t know, but we do know that some people have legitimate reason to be concerned. Those who are higher risk are being advised to take precautions, and those who live, work, and interact with higher risk people on a regular basis are right to also look for ways to minimize the spread of the virus.
Some people have tried to minimize the hysteria by listing diseases and tragedies that have killed more people. While I somewhat understand the intent, that approach concerns me.
A life is a life, whether it was taken by something that killed thousands of people, hundreds of people, or even just one person. That life represents a person who didn’t get to live out the rest of their dreams, another family that is grieving over loss, and another person who may not have known Jesus as their Savior. I’d encourage us to be careful not to be desensitized by numbers.
It’s true, some people are overreacting. But can we stop and look at the reason? They’re afraid. They don’t need to be mocked; they need to be calmed down. Let’s help.
If you are healthy and aren’t worried about catching the virus, great! But because you are strong, consider helping someone close to you who is weak in this situation. Run and pick up groceries for someone who has been told to avoid public spaces. Help them wipe things down to prevent illness from spreading. Listen to their fears, identify their stressors, and help alleviate the panic.
Maybe you’re one of those people who copes with stressful or unordinary situations through humor – I totally get it! Lighthearted relief and laughter are important, but every once and awhile they result in jokes coming out differently from what was intended. Let’s be aware of how jokes and judgements sound to people who truly are at higher risk right now. It is possible to be funny or logical without being demeaning.
Gentleness speaks deeper than sarcasm. The coronavirus isn’t the first event that has caused panic, nor will it be the last. Through them, though, I hope that as Christians we can learn to share a sincere understanding and peace with the people around us who could use the encouragement.
Here’s to our journey.
“We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NASB)