“It’s 3 a.m. and I can’t sleep. I’m just so afraid,” a Mom shared online a few weeks ago.

And I understand. This pandemic has been a struggle for me, too. I’m concerned for my children, my husband, and my elderly parents (and perhaps my sanity).

I’m concerned for friends and neighbors. The economy. Our country. The world.

And I bet you are, too.

The coronavirus is a “novel” virus. That means we’ve never seen anything like it before, physically or emotionally. One of the symptoms of COVID-19 are the “novel” fears that go along with it, like the fear of being in a crowd, or shaking hands, or failing to properly sanitize.

Right now, malls are dark. Church is virtual.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panic and paranoia seem to be spreading even quicker than germs. So at this stressful time of fear, loss and what if’s, it’s vital to decide:

Are you going to waste this pandemic or learn something from it?

After boiling it down to that one simple question, I realize that I don’t want to just GO through it, I want to GROW through it. One day, I want to emerge from this time stronger. Wiser. More compassionate. Courageous. And closer to the Lord than I was before.

I hope you want the same things. In fact, this thought keeps coming to me:

Don’t waste this pandemic–learn from it.

So I thought about what can be learned, and I came up with these 7 key truths:

1. Life is more fragile than you think.

Oh, the ice is so very thin upon which we skate! Or to put it another way, life is fragile. All it takes is a virus, or a gunshot, or an accident to end it. But sometimes, I forget this. The pandemic has taught me to appreciate life more. It is truly a gift to wake up each day.

Our way of life is fragile, too. That’s why you can’t put your trust in your checkbook, or your job, or your government, because they can change.

Nothing stays the same in this life, except for this:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”  Heb.13:8 NLT

That’s why you and I must trust in the Lord, alone. Faith is more precious than gold because it lasts longer than gold and can do a lot more for you. If there’s ever been a time we needed the Lord, it’s now, because life is more fragile than you think.

2. Being prepared isn’t optional.

A week before the quarantine, I bought some extra toilet paper, tissues and pantry items, even though I doubted it was really necessary. The next week when I saw empty shelves at my grocery store, for the first time ever, I was alarmed.

I bet you felt the same way.

It made me grateful for what little I had stored up. And I wish I’d prepared better. From now on, I hope to keep more staples on hand and the freezer full because I’ve learned that being prepared is necessary.

It’s like that for us spiritually, too. In the day of “plenty” when your heart is not aching, your kids are doing well and you’re in a pretty good place, it’s vital to stock up.

To store God’s love away in your heart, like water is stored in a jar (Rom. 5:5).

Believe me, the time will come when you sorely need it. In fact, you need to know you’re loved by God every single day.

Here’s why: well-loved people love others. Well-loved people are free. Well-loved people have hope and a sense of identity that sustains them through difficult times.

This is why the Bible tells us to seek God while He may be found. Don’t wait until something terrible happens—seek Him today while you have the time and the emotional space. My book, Seeking a Familiar Face, can help you.

3. You need other people.

I don’t think I’ll ever use the term, “group hug” lightly again. The lines of tape on the floor in the store make me sad. I guess social distancing goes against my nature. Probably it goes against yours, too.

That’s because God hard-wired us to share life together, to be close and to connect, both physically and emotionally. This pandemic has made me realize how much I miss hugs. Handshakes. Meeting for lunch. And seeing smiles that aren’t hidden by masks.

I need other people. And so do you.

In fact, seeing people is more meaningful than ever before. It’s funny, but I find myself dressing up a little more when I go out. I guess I’m not alone, LOL:

 

These ladies took it to an extreme, but I get it—maybe you do, too.

4. Fear can spread faster than a virus.

“How dare you forget your mask?”
“Did you wash your hands long enough?”
“What if we all get sick?”

Be careful what you say. In times like these, a few careless words can spark panic and chaos. Ugly, heated arguments over gloves and face masks have broken out in stores. And when that happens, social distances (and kindness) are forgotten and fear is inflamed.

Combat fear by speaking words of faith and courage daily, on purpose. People listen to you more than you know. What you say about this pandemic can help others face it, so choose your words wisely.

Talk about what you believe. Talk about the good. And talk about what is true and helpful. Don’t judge. Be kind.* Refuse to get sucked into the panic and be sure not to add to it.

5. You’re more resourceful than you know.

Right now, my sister-in-law is homeschooling her 4 active teenage boys. The other day she had them running wind-sprints at the track, which addressed their need for P. E. and her need for sanity all at the same time :).

That’s pretty resourceful.

I bet in the past few weeks, you’ve come up with solutions you never dreamed of before, too. That’s because you are much more resourceful than you know. And that’s truly a blessing.

In fact, new developments arise from every time of crisis.

Consider these novel virus novelties:
Spiderman-esque wrist-mounted antibacterial spray:

This “hygienehook” opens doors and pushes buttons.

And here’s one that I’m thrilled about: the GermFalcon, a germ-killing robot that uses ultraviolet-C lamps to sanitize airplanes from most viruses on surfaces and in the air. (It’s about time, n’est-ce pas?)

6. Humor has great value.

I’m enjoying the jokes that people are sharing on Facebook (well, mostly). This pandemic has made me value humor more than ever. When you laugh, endorphins are released in the brain. They block out pain and raise our spirits. Since this is a depressing time, make sure you laugh a little each day. These might help:

7. Your life won’t end before it’s supposed to.

This profound verse has changed my outlook completely:
“You planned how many days I would live. You wrote down the number of them in your book before I had lived through even one of them.” Ps. 139:16 NIRV

In other words, you won’t die before your appointed time. Sure, make sensible precautions, but realize your survival isn’t solely up to you. God determined your lifespan long before you were born.

When you surrender the things you can’t control to God, it frees you to be strong and to do great things.

Charles Spurgeon, the great evangelist, once faced a deadly epidemic of cholera. This is what he wrote:

“Who is the man that does not fear to die? I will tell you. The man that is a believer. Fear to die! Thank God, I do not. The cholera may come again next summer—I pray God it may not; but if it does, it matters not to me: I will toil and visit the sick by night and by day, until I drop; and if it takes me, sudden death is sudden glory” (London, Feb. 18, 1855).

So, don’t waste this pandemic. Consider what you’ve learned from it. Then, bless us by sharing what you’ve learned in the comments section below.

 

 

*A little kindness in a pandemic goes a long way! Download, print and share this free bookmark featuring simple acts of kindness. Email me at hello@maypatterson.com to request it.