Working in a grocery store during COVID-19 has been quite the experience. I have a front row seat to the human range of emotions, from grateful compassion to downright rude and disrespectful. However, the most prevalent emotion has been fear. It’s why I cannot stock the shelves fast enough. People are afraid of what this virus will do, afraid of what will happen to life as we know it, afraid of running out of food, and afraid that they won’t be able to get food later on, so they buy more than they need. If fear had a scent, you would be able to smell it a mile away from my store, and many others.
I know despite my best efforts I even feel some fear; I’m afraid of what happens if I get sick and can’t afford my rent or worse, medical treatment. I’m afraid of what happens to those who are most dear to me if they get sick. I’m guessing those of you reading this are feeling some fears of your own. For most of us it’s incredibly hard to admit these fears out loud because then they feel more real.
The beauty in this is God has something to say about what we do when these horribly uncertain situations. For many years my mom has embedded Philippians 4:6-7 in my head when I felt worried or afraid. As a teenager I rolled my eyes often at this memory verse, thinking “yeah mom, I got it.” But let me tell you, as an adult I have never been more thankful for this memory verse because it was the first thing that came to mind when my fears felt like a waterfall rushing down on my head. It reads,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Paul tells us that when our minds start to spiral in anxious worry, we have a beautiful option: to stop and pray right then, to thank God for who He is and what He does for us and for what He has given us. It breaks the anxious cycle. From that place, we make our requests, God hears and responds. In prayer we are confronted with a peace that is beyond even our own understanding. It is the peace of being right with God, hope of heaven and knowing that we will enjoy perfection someday. It is a peace that can maintain seriousness in a situation like this while simultaneously melt away fear so that we can love our neighbors with extravagant abundance.
I pray that we combat this fear with prayers and extravagant love. Call your friends, neighbors and loved ones; call often and share with each other. Send silly photos, have dance parties on your balcony (or front porch), walk and talk with your neighbors, deliver groceries. Abandon fear and dive into the abundant love God has given us and share it with everyone you can.
Looking forward to joining you in this as we move forward as God’s people in isolation. Remember, you aren’t really alone. Different is temporary and this situation can change everything for good because God is with us!