Friday was a day of cancellations. I canceled my writing conference to Mt. Hermon. My husband and I canceled our 24th-anniversary trip. My son’s band trip to Universal Studios was canceled. My daughter will not wear her new dress or the sparkly silver shoes that arrived on Wednesday to her junior prom. Meghan may not be able to play the role of Jane in Mary Poppins. Maille’s soccer season is over. Church services were canceled. And San Joaquin County closed schools for 3 weeks.
While it seems to be a time of closures, cancellations, and shock for our country, I believe hearts are open to receive the hope and peace of Jesus as we walk through this national crisis. We are in this together.
It was strange to wake up on Saturday morning and realize I had five weeks (including my children’s Spring break) with a cleared schedule. This is highly unusual for a family with four busy kids. With my first long-awaited opportunity to sleep in, I couldn’t. So while my family was sleeping, I decided to go to Winco and get the nonfat milk Costco ran out of. For a few weeks now, stores have been depleted of hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and paper towels. The lines keep getting longer.
When I arrived at Winco a man drove by as I exited my car, rolled down his window and told me I’d have to follow someone to their car. I wasn’t sure what he meant. Then I noticed people roaming around the parking lot looking for a cart. I’m not used to following people out of stores to use their shopping carts. It feels a bit like invading someone’s personal space.
I wasn’t ready for this new reality. So I got in my car and decided to try Target. It was unlikely, but maybe since they had just opened, it wouldn’t be as busy. The parking lot was almost empty. Nobody was there. Still, I found myself running to the shopping cart drop-off area in the parking lot even though it was full of carts.
There was no need to rush but I carried with me a sense of urgency I didn’t even realize. It was peaceful inside the store. I even saw someone buying Easter decorations. I put the nonfat milk in my cart and strolled the aisles. I was happy to find plenty of cough drops for my daughter who is sick. It could be a cold, or the flu, or COVID-19—an uncertainty many of us will experience in the days to come. I savored “browsing” the Target aisles thankful for the receding wave of shoppers.
The scent of fresh morning rain met me as I walked outside to my car and noticed a beautiful rainbow arched above the parking lot. It’s as if God was embracing our city, saying, “I’m here. I promise I am here.”
As I’ve gathered the supplies for my family this past week, preparing for possible quarantine, I’ve noticed how one store like Costco can be depleted of supplies with long lines of people filled with panic, and another store across the street, like Home Depot, has stocked shelves and no lines. Sure, this may not last long. But the stark contrast reminds me that with God, I have a choice on how to respond in a crisis.
It’s normal to feel afraid in these kinds of scary situations our nation is facing. We can acknowledge rising anxiety in ourselves and others with compassion and empathy. (Here are a few tips from my friend KJ Ramsey, author of “This Too Shall Last” to help calm your body when you feel anxious).
I can respond to my fear and the fear of others with the peace and hope Christ offers, knowing this earth is not my final home. We have the hope of heaven to offer others who are scared on this earth.
In heaven, there will be no panic. No deadly viruses. No need for hospitals. No empty shelves. No quarantines. No social distancing. No cancellations. The same God of heaven is with us here on earth, walking us through this… Click To Tweet
I love how God reminds us of his presence through a rainbow, the shape of a cloud, a song, and the worship of others in crisis (check out this Tik Tok video as people break out in worship with the store employee as they wait in line ). My eyes are open to see how God shows his glory and power that is stronger than any pandemic. While we prepare to take care of our families, let’s not forget to take care of others. Check on your neighbors. Some may be elderly or are already immunocompromised or shut-ins. Stay home if you can, to flatten the curve. When you are shopping, look out for anyone who looks like they need help. Buy supplies for someone. Give away some TP or Clorox wipes. Sing from your balcony like the quarantined in Italy.
Talk to people in lines. Share the hope of Christ. We are in this together. And God is with us in this storm.
Have you felt the presence of God during these uncertain times? Has someone showed the love of Christ to you? I would love for you to share how you have felt and experienced God’s presence during this pandemic. Let’s spread hope!