We are living in strange and unprecedented times.
Currently, the coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading across the world. People are staying home and isolating, and not always by choice. In fact, this global pandemic is changing daily the way many of us live, work, worship and play—or don't.
Schools are closed. Sporting events are cancelled. Movie theatres and restaurants are closed. Even church doors are shuttered (but thankfully many houses of worship provide online services). It seems like much of American life is closing down—at least for the next few weeks—so we can "flatten the curve" and help slow down the spread of this virus.
How, then, do we live in this unexpected and isolated new world?
For one thing, many of us are now working from home or not working at all. For singles, that presents some new challenges. After days on end without people contact, you may feel lonely and isolated. Staying at home can be hard because we are social beings; we need human interaction.
You can't go out to eat or to the movies—or even to church events—since most everything is closed, and when you do venture out (say, to the grocery store) you're supposed to be "social distancing" (staying at least six feet away from other people in public).
Single parents have their own challenges now too, with school closures. Because of the virus, kids are at home all day long. For some moms and dads, this can cause stress and anxiety. But it can also lead to creative "teachable moments" as parents are now the teachers.
More time at home can also lead to a closer and better family life as we consider again what is most important because our perspectives are changing.
If sports and theatres and restaurants and well, basically all activities are shut down, it forces us to do other things. Perhaps better and more bonding things. That is my hope for families.
Staying Sane and Strong
During this time of uncertainty and isolation, with more time at home, how can you find peace and squelch fear? Help others? Use your time wisely?
Here are six (6) key ways to stay sane and strong during the virus crisis—and throughout life:
1) Keep up your health. By now, you've heard all the basics about staying healthy and keeping up your immune system so you are less likely to get the coronavirus: Wash hands for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your face as much as possible. Drink water. Eat healthy foods. Clean your cell phone often.
If you're feeling lonely or isolated, call or text a friend or FaceTime with someone during your lunch hour to feel more connected.
2) Get a handle on fear. It's normal to be afraid in these precarious times. No one knows how much the virus will spread or when it will stop. Feeling fearful is only human. It's what we do next that makes the difference between living in fear or finding peace.
Will you choose worry or trust God?
Peace comes as you remember what God has done in the past. Think of how he has helped you through tough times before; and believe that He will help you now.
Fear says, "I cannot handle this situation." Faith says, "But God can."
Remember Peter in the Bible, the one who walked on water when Christ beckoned him to come? When Peter's eyes were fixed on Jesus, he stood firm. With eyes on the storm around him, he sank. Likewise, we must keep our hearts tuned to what Christ says, looking to Him, not freaking ourselves out by looking at the turbulent circumstances around us.
Even though you have no idea what's going to happen, inner strength can replace uncertainty when you shore up God's truth inside of you.
Read encouraging Bible verses. Listen to praise and worship music. Pray. Keep your mind set so it doesn't wander.
"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
3) Feed your mind. It's essential to keep perspective when news sources are bombarding the public with a constant stream of stories about the virus. Yes, it's important to stay informed. But don't overwhelm yourself by watching too much.
Instead, feed your mind with God's unchanging truth from His Word, the Bible. This is your weapon against fear, anxiety, depression, loneliness and other feelings.
Truth leads to peace. Here are some comforting verses:
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear…" Psalm 46:1-2
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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." Philippians 4:6-7
Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Church in California posted a meme on Facebook recently: "Turn your panic into PRAYER, turn your worry into WORSHIP, turn your fear into FAITH."
4) Be the church. A building is not "the church," we are. The people who go to church can "be the church" to those in need at such a time as this.
Ask your family members, friends, neighbors, church family, and others if they need anything. You can drop off items on their doorstep to keep your social distance.
Donate to food banks (by drive-up, if possible). Keep giving to your church and other ministries (online or send a check in the mail).
Find creative ways to help others. As Christ-followers, we can be a light in a dark world. We can bring hope to the hopeless. And be a helping hand to those in need.
Lead with love. Love your family—even when they're hard to handle. Love your friends, even though you may not see them as often now. Love changes everything.
5) Use your time wisely. Spending more time at home can be both a challenge and an opportunity.
If you find that you have more time on your hands in this season, consider how you will use it. Maybe you need to catch up on rest. Or, start writing that book you've always wanted to write. Playing music, reading, and maybe even learning to cook with YouTube videos can help pass the time.
Since many nursing homes and assisted living facilities are on lockdown and they cannot have visitors in person right now, you could write a senior a card or letter. Like, a real snail-mail letter.
I heard that during another pandemic, the 1665 Plague of London, Sir Isaac Newton invented calculus. No pressure to invent something, but it made me think that this time away from other distractions could very well produce some good and creative things.
Here's a helpful resource for those of you who want to read up on things relating to dating, sex, love and relationships. Author and speaker Brian Kluth has a free resource on those topics, "God's Road Map for Single and Single-Again Adults."
6) Get perspective. Dr. James Dobson offers these wise and comforting words of hope on the coronavirus outbreak. You'll definitely want to read that.
During this time of change and crisis, you may have to "do without" for a time. Do without hugs when you can't visit those you love. Do without going out to eat or to movies or watching sports. For some, sadly, it's doing without an income, not just paper goods or cleaning supplies.
Hopefully, this will lead to a greater appreciation for the people and things we do have. So, during this time of isolation and closures, choose gratitude. Gratitude leads to joy.
Finally, I believe that this time of the virus and self-isolating will end. It will not last forever. And we will be stronger because of it. In the meantime:
And, wash your hands.
"Lord, we ask for your help and healing in this time of uncertainty. Please stop the spread of this coronavirus (COVID-19) around the world. Help it to cease soon! Help those who are sick to heal. Help the first responders and medical professionals to stay safe and healthy as they treat others. Provide the supplies they need. And a cure. Be with those who are working at home or in the workplace to be productive, and not feel isolated or lonely. Help us all to stay healthy and keep our eyes on You, not the changing circumstances around us. May we be strong and better people for this, and may this virus crisis end soon. We trust in your goodness and faithfulness. In Jesus' Name. Amen."