I remember school being canceled for a day or two because of flu. I remember ducking under my desk at school with my arms over my head and go-home drills during the Cold War. I remember being stuck at home while the snow piled high, closing roads and businesses.
I don’t recall a time like this, when life as we know it has shut down. When I first heard about COVID-19, it was still in China. The danger appeared distant and unreal. Then the world began to shut down as the illness spread.
Schools are closed, businesses are closed (except for essential ones), events are being canceled, and we’re being encouraged to keep our social distance. We are told we put ourselves and others at risk when we go to places where people congregate. For how long? We don’t know. It could be weeks, it could be months. It’s scary. Too many unknowns and what ifs.
Some of you are distracted by being at home 24/7 with your spouse or your children. Your schedules are discombobulated, your lives turned upside-down. Even a trip to the grocery store is risky. Some of you may be lonely because you have to be alone, in isolation, all the time.
As writers we often work at home, alone, so the social distancing isn’t the problem. But we are still distracted by the world and local news, or we may have families around us when we’re accustomed to being alone for at least a few hours a day.
I believe that Christian writers have a God-given gift to use words for good. We have social media available to stay in touch with one another and those we love. We can write letters to friends who don’t have Internet access. We can use our words to encourage and comfort others, to give hope in a time of uncertainty and suffering. When people are vulnerable to gossip and falsehood because of fear, we can use our gift to speak truth and be sure our sources are reliable.
Our greatest challenge is to believe we will come out of this pandemic. We will one day go back to work and school, we will be free to go where we want to go, when we want to go. We will gather together to worship or have fun, we will shake hands or hug, and we will stand closer than six feet to the person beside us. I have hope.
I believe the best stories carry an element of hope. I believe that the Christian life gives hope. I believe that the source of hope is God. God offers us His grace and mercy through Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NKJV
In the meantime, we can be in prayer for those who are ill, for their loved ones, for the front-line medical workers, for first responders, for grocery store workers, for people out of work. We may be able to help in some way: picking up groceries for a shut-in, making cloth face masks for health care workers. In all, we need to be mindful of the “other guy,” our neighbor or the person who may be more vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus and practice good hygiene and keep our distance. Perhaps you have suggestions you’d like to share with us.
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV