Written by Eunice Tan
Ding! My phone screamed. Immediately, I flung my arms across the table and eagerly checked my notifications–my only connection with the world outside my “self-quarantine.” My shoulders slouched. I sighed. All my group chats were full of emotional memes and rants about the inconvenient panic of the COVID-19… just like the day before… and the day before that… and, well, I won’t go on. This got me wondering. As present and frightening as the COVID-19 is, does it deserve to claim our full attention 24/7? Do all our thoughts, moments, words, and actions have to revolve around this global pandemic?
Has COVID-19 consumed our entire life? Should it?
In his essay “Learning in War-Time,” C.S. Lewis talked to Oxford students in the midst of worldwide war in 1939: “The war will fail to absorb our whole attention because it is a finite object, and therefore intrinsically unfitted to support the whole attention of a human soul” (Lewis). Lewis went on to say that in his experience serving in the trenches during WWI, the deeper he trudged into the warzone, strangely enough, the less people talked about war and more about their family back home, stories, and other things in life (Lewis).
Just replace the word “war” with “COVID-19.” This opened my eyes to the fact that there is so much more in life than the “one hot thing happening at present.” There is so much more to our everyday life than COVID-19. We were not created to be consumed by a single tragedy or pandemic. Rather, we were created to love and glorify our amazing God who has created each and every one of us with a beautiful, unique purpose and wonderful gifts and talents. We were created for so much more.
How much time do we spend encouraging inner feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, fear, boredom, or complaining? What emotions or thoughts have we been meditating on? Now, let’s ask ourselves: How much time do I spend meditating on God’s Word and sharing his truth with others?
Psalm 1:2 says that the righteous person’s “delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night” (ESV). Keeping up-to-date on the global spread of COVID-19 is important, but it should not be the primary thing we fill our minds with. The world changes. Our health changes. But the Word of God never changes. Because God Himself never changes. Thus, we need to take advantage of this “dry” period to dig deep into and anchor ourselves in the Word–so we do not become a “chaff that the wind drives away” (Ps. 1:4 ESV). Rather, through meditating on Scripture, God will renew us to be a “tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither” (Ps. 1:3 ESV). When we are rooted in the streams of the Word of God, nothing can shake us–not even a worldwide pandemic.
I struggle with anxiety, especially during times of high stress and trials. But this sentence I heard from a sermon by Timothy Keller really helped change my mindset: “Peace is the confidence and trust in God’s divine control of my life.” Peace is the antidote to anxiety. And this long-lasting, eternal peace can only be found in the person of Christ–who is found in the Bible.
To be honest, I’ve spent too much time meditating on social media’s messages, filling my head with worries, unhealthily comparing my life with others’ lives, and complaints about our global condition. Psalm 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers” (ESV). After reading that, you’re probably thinking, “Um, Eunice. We’re all literally practicing social distancing… I don’t think I could even sit with a scoffer, much less be in their counsel!!” Well, good job reading this too literally. This verse does not mean we need to physically “sit” or “hang out” with bad influences in order to succumb to harmful thinking. Social media is often the most contagious avenue to spread worries, fears, and toxic thinking–especially during the plight of COVID-19. It does not deserve to consume our minds.
Instead, It is time we turn to God’s Word.
How to practically “delight in the law of the Lord” during COVID-19:
- Seize the silence for self-reflection! The busyness of life has often been interfering with our prayer and Bible reading time. Maybe God is prompting us to use this period of silence and self-isolation to spend more time with Him! He is giving us the perfect opportunity in the quietness of our homes to talk to him and mull over the words of Scripture.
- Journal more! Write down verses you have been meditating on and express thankfulness to God. Rant all your emotions just like King David did in the Psalms and commit them to God and ask Him to renew your heart and mind. A lot of times, we just need to empty our “emotional bucket.” Just spilling all my thoughts and talking to God on paper has been one of the best ways I’ve been able to learn more about God and gain mental and spiritual clarification.
How to practically “yield fruit” during COVID-19:
- Connect with people–spend more time with those you are quarantined with like your family members or even reach out online to old friends, distant relatives, or acquaintances. Ask them how they are doing and impart words of encouragement, joy, and wisdom. Have fun with them and also intentionally start deep, heart-to-heart, honest conversations. Ask them questions to learn about their desires, fears, thoughts, and much more!
- Share insights you found in the Word on your social media and with people in your life! Although social media does not consume all our time, we can still use it for good! It doesn’t control us. We control it.
- Work on a forgotten talent or project which will help you grow in perseverance, character, and skills. I’ve had a blast working on my new adventure novel and brushing up on my songwriting!
- Help around more in the house or in any way you can! Simple but important.
Romans 8:18 says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (ESV).
We can’t deny it. We are suffering now. But, be hopeful. One day, we will live in the presence of an all-glorious God in a world free of all viruses and suffering.
As the corona virus swept across China, claiming many victims, a team of Chinese Christians dressed in trademark yellow full-body suits journeyed the public streets, passing out facial masks and gospel tracks, sharing the love and truth of God. These Chinese Christians, persecuted by the government for their belief for decades, emerged from the safety of their homes to reach the lost–because they recognized we do not just need a physical health checkup. We need a spiritual health checkup. And our eternal fate is so much more important than our physical fate.
Isaiah 40:8 says it best, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (ESV).
I want to spend my time in my “self quarantine” to meditate on and explore this beautiful, everlasting word of God and to share it with others.
COVID-19 won’t last forever. Our God does.