While sitting in my house in shutdown mode (#safetyfirst) and watching the rain fall from the sky, I (like so many) am trying to grasp how to be a Christ-follower in this unique season we’re in. There are so many messages swarming around the social media world that it can easily add to anxiety and fear. I don’t know about you, but it feels like we are in a storm with an uncertain ending that we can’t see. But, hold on, folks, God is near! Immanuel, God with us, is here. He’s walking beside us through the storm.
Because this all feels much like a hurricane—Hurricane Coronavirus, if you will—it made me look at the passage in Scripture where Jesus calms the storm in Matthew 8. If you have experienced a hurricane, you know that the wind is terrifying and powerful. So, I can only imagine how the disciples felt.
“Then he got into the boat, and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm” (Matthew 8:23-26, NIV).
Jesus was present. Even when it feels like the world is falling apart, God is in control of all things. Honestly, as a follower of Jesus for many years, I can relate to the disciples. First, I think it is essential to know that these were expert fishermen, so they had experienced storms before, but this one must have been a pretty terrible one to get them so worried. They had been with Jesus for a while and seen all He could do. They saw miracles and acts of wonder! The disciples had seen Jesus’ ministry and heard His words daily, and still, they allowed fear to grab hold of their faith.
Things don’t always make sense life, like coronavirus and being on lockdown, and, yes, there is pain and suffering in the world. History has shown us that over and over. But, as Jesus-followers, we are not always called to understand but rather called to embrace. We need to embrace our seasons, even the stormy ones, because we follow the King who is in the boat with us. As followers of Jesus, we must remember that He is near. We are not alone. We need to trust in Him, no matter what is going on in the world around us or how high the waves get or how fierce the winds get.
As Jesus-followers, we must live in the tension between the peace of trusting God and the caution we must take to love others well, because of the greatest two commandments to love God and love others as yourself. We must not forget that just because the world is isolating itself, the Gospel is not isolating or isolated. God can use all things and all methods to reach people. We must not allow fear to rob us of our faith nor panic to overtake our peace. We must learn from the disciples’ lack of faith and trust Jesus in this storm. We must remember that He is with us.
Jesus wants us to follow Him, even in the isolating and stormy season. Jesus still needs us to have a burden to go to the broken. We can be hope and light in the darkness of coronavirus. So, as we love our neighbors well by honoring what our leaders have asked, let’s start thinking of creative ways to share the hope of Jesus. Here are five simple ways we can do just that:
- Be kind online. Share words of encouragement, Scripture, sermons, and helpful advice.
- Don’t hoard. Walk the line between wisdom and consideration; there are many people whose well-being depends on items that we don’t need as much.
- Love others well. What does this look like for your family and friends? For many people, a family is the hardest mission field. Perhaps being isolated together will allow some people to demonstrate and share their faith in new ways.
- Connect regularly. We were created for community. So, figure out how to connect online—group Bible studies, online game nights, and movie nights. Consider tools like Whatsapp, Google Hangout devotionals and training, YouTube series, or Marco Polo video texting. We are not alone. He is with us, so share that hope!
- Share hope and light. Make the most of every opportunity to share where your hope and peace stem from. Our house built on the rock, not sand, is solid. Therefore, stand with confidence on your foundation and share.
Remember, the light is still pushing back the darkness! Let’s live in obedience of following Jesus no matter the cost, circumstance, or season. The storms are out there, but that is not a reason to live in fear and disengage. We must live in full confidence and faith that the one who holds all things in His hands…even coronavirus. He is in this with us!
Sarah Farley is the Southeast Student Mobilizer Associate with the International Mission Board. She is an Enneagram 7 that loves students, coffee, burgers, SEC football, and connecting with people.