This morning I poured my coffee and scrolled through the news as I was getting ready to sit down with my Bible for a few quiet minutes.
And there it was. Front and center on every single news site.
COVID-19 . . .
This year has already been a doozy on the illness front. Both flu and flu-like viruses have been running rampant in most of the country, and without even putting this new coronavirus in play, the sickness train seems to still be chugging full steam ahead.
I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a germaphobe. I’ve been known to wash my hands ’til they bleed and have ruined many an item of clothing with bleach. Any other hypochondriacs out there in internet land?
And with the flu season still in full swing, the last thing I want to think about is the potential for a pandemic from a virus we know very little about. Yet, as I sat this morning trying to focus on prayer and the Word, all I could think about was how I’d love to hide out with my family and avoid the world until it all passes. But the reality is “it” is never going to pass. Yes, this virus may die out or play out, but there is always going to be something about which to worry. There is always going to be an “it” to hide from.
So I did what I learned to do many years ago when I can’t focus and the fear of the unknown threatens to overwhelm my ability to pray or study or even put together two rational thoughts. I turned in my Bible to Psalm 91.
1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
8 Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”
In the late winter/spring of 2009, my oldest was a year old, and I was teaching school, when the H1N1 pandemic hit full force. And I was paralyzed with fear. The “what ifs” wouldn’t stop coming, and so, honestly, out of desperation, I started to pray Psalm 91 over my child and my family. I memorized it and prayed it every time that fear would start to take hold. Sometimes quietly under my breath as I worked and shopped and went about daily life (I know . . . I probably looked crazy). Other times out loud and with as much authority as I could muster. But always multiple times a day for weeks.
And here’s the thing, nothing about God changed through my reading and memorizing and praying of Psalm 91. God didn’t change. God doesn’t change. He doesn’t need to. But I do. I’m forever needing to be changed and transformed. As long as I’m living this side of heaven, I’ll still be a work in progress. By seeking Him through Psalm 91, I was reminded, regularly, Who it is I serve. I was reminded that only in Him can I truly find peace. And that need is still there. Maybe the fear is a little less paralyzing, but the need is absolutely no different today than it was 11 years ago.
Things are going to come. Big things . . . scary things . . . things we so desperately want to shut out and hide from . . . things like sicknesses and pandemics and wars and natural disasters will happen. And while I firmly believe that there is no wrong in asking for wisdom in how to prepare (we should prepare if at all possible), we also have to ultimately come to terms with the fact that, in our own human power, as much as we hate it, we have very little control over these things. But we know the ONE that is in control. We serve a mighty, powerful, loving, and merciful God. And if we know Jesus as Savior, we are His, and we’ve already won no matter what comes against us.
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