My how the events of the past few days have changed things. A week ago, my kids caught a stomach bug from school and I jokingly remarked at least it wasn’t Coronavirus. Now saying such a thing would sound highly inappropriate.
We’re doing okay in our household. We have food. We have toilet paper. We are fortunate enough to have employment that isn’t effected by all the closings. We do have a child with asthma, so we have to exercise extra caution there, but we’re all healthy so far. My biggest challenge is keeping my 3 kids from going stir crazy…and from driving me crazy! But considering the circumstances, I can barely complain about that.
However, I have kept thinking how can we be a blessing to others in all this? When there are suddenly ripples of panic spreading, how can we provide words of encouragement and calm?
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,
Who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
– Isaiah 52: 7
Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” If you remember your high school physics class, entropy is sort of like Murphy’s Law applied to the entire universe. In my attempt to not slaughter the meaning out of my own scientific ignorance, entropy is a measure of disorder, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics states that all closed systems tend to maximize entropy. Reversing that ever increasing tendency toward disorder requires the input of energy.
If that was too much of a textbook definition for you: everything drifts toward chaos, toward disorder. It isn’t difficult to look around and see that. It took little effort to set people into panic. It took little effort for toilet paper aisles to be emptied and long lines at grocery stores to be formed. If I ignore my house for one day, my little people can wreak such destruction, you’d wonder what type of hooligans inhabited it. Give it a month and dust and cobwebs begin lining my shelves. Ignore my garden for a week and unsightly weeds begin poking their prickly little heads through the dirt.
You get the idea. Chaos is inevitable in this life and comes by default if nothing is done to stop it.
Fortunately, God’s way is not that of chaos, but of peace. Last year in Bible study, we talked about the Biblical theme of Shalom (the Hebrew word for “peace”) versus Chaos. There is a running theme in the Bible of God bringing his peace and order to the chaos of our world. I wish I could pour over all the detailed information that’s in the Bible regarding this theme, but for the sake of space and time, we’ll have to settle on the abridged version:
- In the beginning was chaos, nothingness. Genesis chapter 1 uses the Hebrew word “Tohu”, which means “formless, without function, chaos, confusion, emptiness.” But God creates order; he creates man into a world of peace. Then God gives the creation mandate in the garden: it was instructing Adam and Eve to continue to bring things into peace, out of the chaos. At the Fall, when Adam and Eve sinned, humans thwarted God’s original design for shalom. But God established his Covenant, which was a means to get back the peace he always intended for creation.
- Then in Genesis 12 God adjusts his strategy for shalom. Instead of pushing out the chaos, he begins to bring shalom out of the chaos by choosing a people group with whom to bring about peace- these are the people you come to know as the Israelites, via “Father Abraham”. Herein begins a message that says “don’t run from the chaos, but engage it!”; “bring God’s peace to the chaos!.” God’s intention with the Israelite people? To bring God’s message of peace and love to the entire world. To be a beacon of hope in the mixed-up, crazy chaos of this world.
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing…..All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
– Genesis 12: 2-3
If you call yourself a believer, a Christian, a Christ-follower, you are part of that same people group who God commissioned to be his image-bearers, his peace bringers, his light in the darkness. Israel’s role of representing God has been passed down to us. We are his stewards and he chooses us to reflect his image, including the goodness and peace that he is. When we don’t do our job, the chaos of this world can take over.
We have a choice in this COVID-crisis, and in every crisis for that matter. Will we be like everyone else around us? Panicking or spreading anxiety-inducing speculative comments or pointing blame at whoever tickles our fancy for the moment? Will we isolate ourselves and ignore those in need around us, hoarding Costco-sized packs of toilet paper, milk, and eggs for just ourselves and the dog, while saying under our breath, “Sorry ‘bout your luck, suckas!” Or will we dare to be the hands and feet of Jesus at such a time as this? Can we rise up as Christ-followers and spread the shalom he so desires?
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14: 27
I challenge all of us to really think about how we can bring God’s peace to our families, neighborhoods, communities, and even the world right now. This will look different for everyone, depending on your own situation, but we can all do something. Maybe it means sending encouraging, hand written notes in the mail or writing a check to help families out of work. Maybe it’s dropping off groceries at a local collection site or sharing a roll of toilet paper with your neighbor. Maybe it’s checking in daily with a family member who’s completely isolated during these weeks. Perhaps it is counting your blessings each day to maintain peace within your own heart. Maybe it’s saying no to social media posts that discourage and saying yes to words that uplift and build others up. Maybe it’s setting aside 15 minutes every day to pray for those effected around the nation and world.
For our family, part of bringing God’s peace starts with our kids. Letting them know they are safe and cared for and don’t need to be anxious in a confusing time. But it has also meant thinking outside of our own four walls and helping in the places we can; not feeling guilty about what we cannot do, but actively fulfilling the needs within our ability.
I don’t have all the answers in this mixed-up, unprecedented COVID-crisis in which we find ourselves. To some degree, we’re all taking things one day at a time and making new decisions as we learn new information. But nevertheless, I know our Lord is looking down at us and wants us to share his peace and goodness and love in spite of the chaos at hand. In that way, we will truly reflect the heart of our Father. I would love to see you all share in the comments what ideas you’ve come up with on how to be peace-bearers in your communities. We can all learn from each other.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16: 33
Peace and blessings,