In March, my friend and prayer partner, Debbie McAlear posted this on Facebook. Although some of Debbie’s thoughts are just a bit outdated because of the timing, most of them still ring true. For the few that are currently a bit old, read and remember, in case we have to face something similar in the future!
I met Debbie several years ago in my Sunday school class. She is passionate about Jesus, her loved ones, and the faith and freedoms our country was built on. She serves as Administrator of a women’s commission at a 90-year-old nonprofit, and in her spare time loves reading, gardening and baking. Her two beautiful and spirited granddaughters, Ryleigh and Katelyn, keep her young at heart.
One of my favorite things about Debbie is what she has done on every Good Friday afternoon for years. Beginning at 12 noon, she reads the account of the last week of Jesus’ life in each of the four Gospels. I learned just this year that was her practice, so this year, I made it mine. Because of COVID, my church didn’t do our traditional activities leading up to Easter, so taking this time to read and ponder the Crucification made Easter more special to me than otherwise since it was from home.
Here are Debbie’s thoughts:
I am a lifelong list maker, and last night I wrote a list of over a dozen concrete ways to meet this unsettling new reality that we call COVID-19. It started out as “preaching to myself”, but I thought it might be helpful to someone else.
We are in tough times, but we’re all in it together. Americans haven’t forgotten how to pull together in a crisis, despite our polarized culture. On the bright side, maybe this will end up helping us heal and truly unite as a nation!
We need to listen to the actual televised press conferences— as my grandma would say, “get your facts straight from the horses’ mouth.” Don’t rely on second-hand news. The updates from the President, the Vice-President, reps from the CDC, the Surgeon General, Dr Fauci, etc. are what matters, NOT hyped-up media reporters injecting their interpretation of the facts. We need to find sources that don’t have political or editorial slants. We can’t fall for opinionated reporting that leads to panic and uncertainty.
We need to pay close attention to stories from Italy, where people are emphatically warning us about the genuine importance of self-isolation, social distancing and shutdowns in order to avoid some of what they are suffering. We need to be social distancing anytime we go somewhere. And we need to stay at home!
We should only seek info from real, trusted, respected physicians and nurses—people who are on the front line. This is no time to give credence to loonies who are claiming this is some “big political conspiracy” or “hoax”. It isn’t. We can trust information coming from the Christian Medical and Dental Association, for example, and there are many others providing factual information without hype or speculation. (The CMDA is a nonprofit organization, 90 years in existence. I’ve worked for the Association for several years.)
Again, we need to stay home! We need to do whatever it takes to prevent overloading our hospitals and staff and resources. It’s inconvenient and it may go on for a while. It’s scary because it’s different from what were used to. But we’re Americans. We are resourceful. We can do it. We have to be smart. Be prepared. Take it seriously.
We need to look past ourselves. Even for young people who feel your age or health protects you, we don’t know enough about this to be 100% sure of anything. We can all be carriers of this virus. We all need to think of others whom we love, and people we don’t even know. Each one of us has a responsibility to our fellow man.
And c’mon, people need to stop complaining about everything! Things are going to be way different, and very challenging. We have to realize there are going to be long lines at the store, items that are sold out, events cancelled, plans changed. This is unprecedented. Unless you are a healthcare provider concerned about the quantity of protective gear or tests that are available for you and your colleagues, just keep it to yourself! No one cares if your favorite store is closing down, or they are sold out of your favorite food, or your vacation was canceled. This is bigger than your needs, your plans. We’re all in the same boat, and complaining aloud or on social media affects everyone’s morale. Be positive and consider all the things you have to be thankful for instead!
Don’t scare your children. Think of how this must be to a child, so unsettling. They’re watching the adults in their lives for both words and actions. They don’t need to be subjected to a constant barrage of news or worries. They need your reassurance and your engagement. Listen to the experts on specifics of dealing with children’s fears and change of daily structure. And do what you can to make sure our school children who are normally fed at school can get meals now. Helping others always takes the focus off of your own troubles.
Keep in touch with those who live alone or are elderly. Call them. Offer to help by picking up their groceries, take them a meal, or just let them know you’re there if they need something.
Stop buying groceries like you are filling a bomb shelter for 20 people!! This is the United States. There is plenty stored in warehouses that just needs to have time to travel and restock the stores. You are not living in a socialist or communist country. (Thank God!) Our government is literally working around the clock to figure out all of these matters.
Use this time staying home to strengthen family ties. Teach your kids life skills they don’t teach in schools, like balancing a checkbook or changing a tire. Play games. Go outside. Take a hike. Teach your kids the lost art of letter writing. Learn to experience life without constantly running to events, practices, lessons, appointments. Maybe when this is all over, we’ll all want to cut some of that unnecessary busy-mess out of our family’s everyday lives?!
We are all going to end up with extra time right now, and it is not a silly suggestion to take up a new hobby. If you’re at home instead of constantly running, you’re probably going to have some free time. I plan to catch up on my Bible study, devote extra time outdoors to my garden and watch movies I’ve recorded. I may even finish the scarf I started knitting three years ago!
We will get through this. We all have strengths we don’t even know we have until there is a crisis. No time for hand-wringing. Think of how you can help make things better in hard times. Encourage people in whatever way you can.
Pray without ceasing! Pray for our country’s leaders. Pray for our first responders—doctors, nurses, technicians, police, firemen, paramedics, soldiers, social workers. Pray for those who can’t work from home. Pray for those who are working to keep supply chains open. Pray for our churches-that they can adapt and still reach hurting and anxious people in new ways. Pray for those who are lost, that God finally gets their attention. Pray for our children and grandchildren. Pray for a vaccine.
Most importantly, we have to remember God IS still in control. He tells us hundreds of times in His word: “Do Not Fear”. We WILL see good come out of this. That’s not my promise, that’s not the government’s promise. That’s God’s promise.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”—Isaiah 41:10
“Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in all the earth.“ —Psalm 46:10
Copyright, May 22, 2020, by Rebecca Henderson and Debbie McAlear.
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