As schools around the country prepare to reopen and parents and teachers nervously consider their options for the fall, it’s anyone’s guess how returning to the classroom will affect the course of the pandemic, or – more personally – how it will affect them and their family. Because that’s the truly scary part. Right? Asking, how will Covid-19 affect me?
As a teacher and mom of five students (second grade through college), it’s been pretty stressful to contemplate. As a parent, I want to do everything possible to keep my family safe – wear masks, stay home, avoid crowded places. But as a Christian, I’m also called to serve those around me, like the families of my students who are desperately wondering what to do with their children if schools don’t reopen. I’m also called to trust.
So when I get overwhelmed by these two conflicting compulsions – to protect my family and to serve others – I remind myself of three things I know for sure. The first is something I told my students in March on our last day of class before the world shut down, “This changes nothing.”
The coronavirus, as new as it may be to us, is not new to God, who knows everything. So the virus can’t change God’s plans for you or me. While I don’t know the outcome of what will happen should those I love get sick from the virus, Scripture says that God knows every day of my life before a single one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). In other words, he’s got this. He’s got me. He’s got those dear to me.
Second, which I often remind myself when facing overwhelming hardship: This is an opportunity to trust God more. Those circumstances that seem impossible? That gnawing fear that wakes you up at night? The what if that won’t go away? It’s not an obstacle. It’s an opportunity – an opportunity to pray more, an opportunity to love more, an opportunity to get to know God more.
Finally, I remember that as a child of God I am never alone (Hebrews 13:5). Not if I’m quarantined. Not if I get sick. Not if I go to the hospital. Not even if I should die, or should those I love die. Scripture is full of promises about God’s presence with us. And not just his presence, but his goodness, his mercy, his faithfulness, his power and his love.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” the apostle Paul asks in the book of Romans (8:35-38 NASB) “…For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angles, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
My actions alone don’t determine the outcome of my life. Yes, we should heed the wisdom of doctors and scientists and government leaders. Yes, we should wear masks and wash our hands and practice social distancing. But when I am afraid, this is the playlist I return to: God is in control; I am not alone; I am loved.
If you are facing similar fears and struggles, here’s an actual song to add to your playlist.
Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the award-winning memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of mid-coast Maine. She is also the author of the Lantern Hill Farm picture book series, celebrating the holidays in a way that builds children’s faith.