A few days before Lent started last month, I was reading Matthew 4 where Jesus goes into the wilderness after getting baptized. As I read, I had one of those “wait a second” moments because I realized something I’d never noticed before: Jesus walked into the wilderness empty-handed.
Think about it – there’s no mention of Jesus pre-planning this solo trek or taking supplies with Him as He followed the Spirit into the barren land. There are no desert just-in-cases or back-ups included. I had to laugh at myself as I read the passage because I looked around and noticed that I had a laptop, Bible, book, journal, planner and Lent guide all within reach. I also had water, coffee and two bananas in my purse. TWO! Clearly, I am most comfortable making plans for the unknown and the just-in-cases. I like knowing there’s a safety net before I walk out. Jesus, though, He walked empty-handed into that wilderness. And that amazes me to no end.
I mean, Jesus could have definitely pulled together a rucksack of supplies if He wanted, don’t you think? But He walked into the desert empty-handed. Jesus trusted the Spirit as He was led into the unknown.
Now, 40 days and nights alone in the wilderness is not a test I want to replicate, but how Jesus did it (at least in part, I think) is by knowing He actually did have a safety net — His Father. He knew the Father and His character — how He acts, His heart, His promises. Jesus knew the Father loved Him and was with Him.
And so do we.
Coronavirus news is swirling all around us. Social media is buzzing with thoughts and opinions. The stats seem to change every hour. There are so many unknowns of how COVID-19 will impact us all. It feels in many ways like we’re walking into the situation empty-handed as well.
But the truth (do you know where I’m going with this?) is that we are not alone. This is an opportunity, as I heard Dr. Bill Hampton say in church a week ago, to trust God. This is an opportunity for me to trust the God who made me and loves me. To remember our God has the whole world in His hands. To remember that even when it looks like nothing is happening, He is at work in hearts and lives. He is over everything.
Beyond the reality of living in the middle of a situation none of us can see the end of yet, I’ve had my fair share of tossing and turning in the middle of the night over this virus. I had travel plans for the spring and fall, including to places that are now on the top of the list for travel concerns. I have people in my life who are older, who are pregnant, who who have weaker immune systems. And more than anything, I have a tendency to become overly anxious when it comes to family members’ health. A symptom, I’m sure, of having lost my nephew five years ago. These days, an extra test at the doctor’s office scares me, a hospital visit puts me on edge.
If I’m honest, I want this all to be under my control. I want to keep this virus from everyone I know, from the whole world. I want to go about my normal schedule. I want to make my plans and stick with them. Some days, it truly is a fight to remember and lean into God’s promises. To remember that He loves us, is for us and will always provide a way through. But, that is the absolute truth – God is with us and He is at work. I can’t see the microscopic germs around me, I can’t be sure that the cough I just heard right behind my head is from allergies or something else, I can’t see the end of this situation we’re all in – but I can remember that God knows it all.
And there are some things I CAN do:
I can eat things that are good for me, move my body, wash my hands well and make sure I sleep — those are all important and responsible parts of caring for my life, health and body.
I can (and should) listen to the health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
I can (and should) talk to God about my fear and anxiety surrounding this situation.
I can pray for those who are affected by this illness, their caregivers and those who are working around the clock to minimize the impact of this virus.
I can be tender with those around me who are afraid.
I can smile and wave to people, even if it’s at a distance.
I can remember those who are more susceptible to illnesses and take extra precautions to protect them, even if that means staying home.
This is an opportunity for us to be a comfort to each other, to support each other and to remind each other that we are not alone in this and that there is a God who loves us and will never leave us. This is an opportunity to remember and trust God.
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