Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
This Saturday, while having lunch at a local restaurant, the general manager came to our table to ask us how my wife and I were doing. We replied, very well; How are you? Our reply set off a lengthy explanation of his panic. He was afraid he might have to close the restaurant with his business off seventy-five percent. In his eyes, I could see real fear. The kind of fear that unsettles our stomach, weakens our knees and causes us to labor on the easiest of tasks.
With our friends and family, we also have heard and seen fear. Supermarket shelves are being emptied. Hand sanitizer is being sold on the street for fifty dollars a bottle. True panic seems to abound.
A disquieting sense of being seems to be present in all that we see and hear. Panic caused by a lack of control of people’s lives and events.
Each announcement of school and store closings seems to raise the fear level higher. Watching television, you hear even more information that stiffens your body. The stock market is violently swinging in turmoil, causing people to wonder; how much will their savings go down? All around us fear seems to be growing faster than the Coronavirus itself, which is at the root of people’s fear.
But our fear, is just that, fear. People are forgetting that fear breeds fear. Fear is not tangible or something you can touch. But a vicious psychological marauder that seeks harm. Not physical harm, but emotional.
Panic causes bad decisions when more than ever good ones are required. Panic causes unsteady steps when the steps of life need to be sure.
Friends are asking me; what do we do when things get panicky? My reply is have faith and focus on what we can control. By doing this we gain power over our emotions, no longer letting panic dictate how we feel.
I have been here many times before, whether it was H1N1 or SARS. I have lived through the stock market crash of 1987, September 11th, and the Great Recession of 2009. All dangerous things for the psyche. But this panic seems far more out of control.
Now I am not saying that the risk of catching the Coronavirus isn’t real, it is a dangerous flu. What has become more dangerous is that the level of panic seems to have exceeded the danger.
We need to remember that the stock market always comes back, and in all cases moves much higher. The virus will run its course and we will all learn more about how to be better protected from getting new viruses. When the danger has passed, and it will, the lessons we learned will make us healthier. Most importantly, life will return to normal.
We should have a healthy level of concern and wash our hands more frequently. We should trust that the civil authorities know what they are doing. But we shouldn’t let panic control us, we should control us. Not changing our lives is a great place to start.
Doing the things we always do, no matter how modified, is a good place to start.
We should still say I love you to our loved ones, maybe more. We should still hug our children, maybe a little tighter. We should still call our parents, probably more frequently. We should plant the spring flowers, perhaps a few more this year. We should still help the elderly, especially now.
The problem with the disease of panic is that it is an easy bed to jump into and a hard one to get out of. But arise we must, because staying there will only make things worse.
Instead of needing to be consoled, we should try to console. Helping others is a wonderful antidote to fear. Try it, you will feel better. That I can guarantee.
As Christians, we know to have faith and we should. We may not be sure how this all turns out, but losing our faith doesn’t make sense. How many times in the past has God has answered our prayers. And this we should remember.
In these times of stress, God’s arms of help haven’t been shortened. They are just as long as they were yesterday, probably longer.
Faith is something we can count on. It is a place that shields us from panic. A place where the Holy Spirit delivers comfort and wisdom. A quiet place of prayer. On our knees or sitting, we are in commune with God, who will answer us today as happened yesterday.
Panic is an emotional virus that is spread much like a physical virus. Fear breeds fear and left unchecked is an unreasonable pursuer of mayhem. But panic is a disease that is curable.
Deep breaths will diminish its effect. Remembering to continue our lives will tap down its desire to debilitate. Washing our hands often will give us a greater sense of control.
Prayer will provide peace and reassure us. Reading the Bible will give insight. For times like this, I highly recommend reading Philippians and 2nd Corinthians. Both wonderfully uplifting books that provide hope in times of duress.
Things will get better in time, not because I have seen it many times, but because I live by faith. Let panic abate. The flowers of spring will sprout green soon. Hope will replace despair. The streams of light called everyday life will return.
Be at peace.
Listen to the Full Podcast – Faith and Reducing Coronavirus induced Panic
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman
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