You have been on my heart every day and every night lately. Like, I have literally lost sleep worrying about how you're doing coping with the coronavirus outbreak. I've been trying to think of ways that 412teens can encourage you and help you get through this uncertain time. Everything feels upside down, unknown, and confusing. I know a lot of us suffer from anxiety, depression, and have many, many worries on a normal day. To add the heavy layer of a worldwide pandemic on top of that seems unnecessarily cruel, doesn't it?
Some may feel like God is punishing the world or that it’s the End Times or something, but please ease that out of your thoughts. God is indeed aware of what's happening. Yes, He allowed this COVID-19 crisis to happen, but that doesn't mean He caused it.
Look around you at the good that’s happening today. See how God is using this time to bring out the kindness, compassion, and generosity in people? Neighbors helping neighbors. Families coming together in ways they haven't done in ages. Parents learning to appreciate the tireless work of teachers and stay-at-home moms and dads. Humanity is finding out what really matters in life.
The other day, we received this question on 412teens: "How are you finding peace and keeping your head up during these trying times? It can be really frightening and hard to keep your faith. What do you recommend that I do to not let fear and worry consume me?"
My heart is broken for the world these days, but I know that I can't let it destroy my spirit. I have my own teens at home, housemates, and friends who all depend on me to varying extent; I cannot allow this pandemic to consume my mind and take away my ability to care for others.
Here's what I've been doing to keep my head in a positive space in the midst of all the negative, scary, and uncertain stuff going on during the coronavirus pandemic...
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." —1 Thessalonians 5:18
Focusing on what we have to be grateful for can help turn our attention from the "lack" we feel. I have a job which I love and can do from home. My family is in relatively good health, and my teenagers actually get along with each other. My practice of having a stocked pantry and freezer ensures we won't run out of food or supplies. Best of all, we live in a world with so much potential for long distance connection. When I was growing up, if a friend changed schools, we just couldn't be friends anymore. If they moved to another state, they may as well have died because it was unlikely we would stay in touch.
Today, we can connect with friends and family in a matter of seconds! We can text, video chat, send videos, even watch movies together—all over wi-fi. It's almost like our 2020 world is perfectly setup to retain community while social distancing. We can even have stuff delivered to our homes easily so we'll never be without snacks or shampoo. There are so many things to be thankful for—all of which are gifts that God has given us (James 1:17).
It's so easy to get crushed under the virus information and the virus memes and trying not to freak out but not knowing what you should and should not worry about—it's just...a lot. And I totally get that.
While it's not a bad idea to stay reasonably up-to-date with what's happening in the world, it's possible to get inundated with too much information and have a hard time processing it all. Everybody has something to say, but not everything is true. That means we have to sift through all that info, but not many of us are in dire need of one more thing on our to-do lists.
I listen to our governor's press conferences so I can know how our state and city is being affected—like when they began shutting down schools and certain businesses. BUT I've tried very hard not to obsess over information.
"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." —2 Timothy 1:7
There's nothing to panic about right now. Yes, we need to take it seriously and self-isolate, but we do not need to panic. If you don't have a good understanding of what self-isolation and social distancing is about, you may be feeling cornered or like your freedom is being taken away. My 13-year old son was scared and calling it a "quarantine," which is not the same thing, so let me clarify the purpose for you.
Self-isolation and social distancing are preventative measures to make sure things DON'T advance as fast as they potentially could. For those who are young and relatively healthy, self-isolation and social distancing is about making a sacrifice of your comfort so that others may be saved from this contagion—it's not about being fearful of catching COVID-19. (See Matthew 6:25-34.)
Slowing down the spread of the virus is what's important right now; that's why governments are canceling events, closing schools, and closing certain public places. It's not necessarily about keeping YOU safe, as those who are young and relatively healthy have a high likelihood of surviving COVID-19 unscathed. Think about your sacrifice as protecting people like your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other people in the senior citizen community—keeping THEM safe. They ARE at risk of having extremely adverse reactions to the coronavirus, so that's why it's important to make sure we don't pass it on to someone else—even if we would personally be OK or don't care if we get it.
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." —Philippians 2:3-4
One of the very best ways to fight the fear (and boredom) right now is helping others. Check in on your friends, shovel the snow off your neighbor's driveway without being asked, help clean the house, offer to spend extra time with your siblings, send letters to your grandparents... There is never a lack of ways to help others!
The Got Questions CEO wrote a couple great blog posts about how Christians should be responding to this coronavirus pandemic. I really appreciated his perspective, and it may be helpful to you too:
Here are a couple pages from the Center for Disease Control for current information about COVID-19:
We are working on some graphics for 412teens social media to help you find ways to bring joy and hope back into your life and find beautiful things to combat boredom during these times. If you haven't followed our Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, go follow us!
Your anxiety and depression may be spiking in the midst of all of this, and my hope and prayer is that, together, we can find even a tiny spark of light to combat the dark thoughts. Let's choose to start turning our hearts around together.
I am praying for you, friend—praying that God will grant you peace and bring motivation to your heart to overcome the darkness. May God bring light to your heart today. <3
—Cat, 412teens Editor
Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org. She loves audiobooks, feeding the people she cares about, and using Christmas lights to illuminate a room. When Catiana is not writing, cooking, or drawing, she enjoys spending time with her two kids, four socially-awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.