Is It Possible to Rejoice During the Coronavirus Crisis?
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.… Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.… If there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:4-13)
These are uncertain times. Fear of the unknown makes it tempting to give in to panic, fret about things we can’t control, and obsessively watch the news for new signs of impending doom.
A good rule when facing any emergency is to remain calm. And no matter what your circumstance, it’s always a good idea to trust God and remind yourself that He is sovereign and unsurprised by current events. You and I may not be able to control what’s going on, but God is one hundred percent in control. And that‘s a very good thing to remember.
In light of Paul’s command to the Philippians to rejoice always and be anxious for nothing, many Christians are now asking, “How can I be joyful during something as awful as the coronavirus pandemic? Is that even possible?”
I understand how you feel. Let’s review together some of what’s been happening in our society.
Homeschool conventions are being canceled, resulting in a loss of helpful seminars and curriculum-shopping opportunities, as well as lost revenue for speakers, vendors, and conference organizers.
The stock market is clearly reeling. In the past week, the Dow Jones has seen both the biggest one-day point loss and the biggest one-day point gain in history. Some financial portfolios have decreased significantly and in short order.
Professional and amateur sporting events, concerts, theater productions, festivals, and other large-group gatherings have been suspended or canceled.
One way to know if something is an idol in your life is to observe how you react when it is taken away. Sure, it’s not fun to lose money, have your plans canceled, or see your favorite sport or team sidelined. But are you heartbroken or obsessing over the loss? I believe a social upheaval like this one can be a good reason to rejoice, because God will use it as a heart checkup to help us reexamine our love of money or devotion to a sports team. Hopefully, you pass the test. If not, now is a perfect time to take stock of your life, decide what is truly important, reorder your priorities, and remove an idol from your life.
Then there are the obvious health concerns. If you are young and healthy and at low risk for dying from the virus, you can be thankful. Even so, I’m washing my hands more than I did before. Are you fearful of contracting the CoVid-19 virus and possibly dying? I don’t want to be flippant about what could be a life-or-death situation for the elderly or infirm, but we all will face death at some point. And you don’t get to decide when that day will come or what circumstances will bring it about. I believe we can rejoice in the midst of this pandemic because it forces every one of us to consider his or her standing with Almighty God.
Puritan minister Cotton Mather was very intentional about things he resolved to do as a father, which he compiled into a well-documented list. For example, he resolved to “oblige the children to retire sometimes, and ponder on that question: ‘What shall I wish to have done, if I were now a-dying?’—and report unto me their own answer to the question; of which I will then take advantage, to inculcate the lessons of godliness upon them.” That’s heavy stuff. But you can rejoice because talk of the coronavirus presents a natural opportunity for you to have this oft-neglected conversation about life, death, and godliness with your children.
I pray your children put their faith in Christ, the one who gives sight to blind sinners, opens ears that are deaf to his word, calm the storms in life, and multiplies the bread of life to feed hungry souls. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and faith in Him is the only way to have no fear of death but find security in the blessed hope of eternal life with Him in heaven.
What about some of the other issues people are facing?
Schools are closing. Companies are telling employees to work from home. If you are already homeschooling, then you know the blessings of family life and spending lots of time together. But for the vast majority of families, they are facing something truly new and foreign to them. And I’m not talking about the virus. I’m talking about the fact that families are being forced to spend time together, stuck in their homes. My prayer is that they discover the joy of being together and not hiding out in separate bedrooms playing video games or bingeing on Netflix.
Pray for the many families who will try their hand at homeschooling for the few months remaining in the school year. Pray that these parents and students will have their paradigms shifted and perhaps even fall in love with this alternative educational lifestyle.
During this time, some families will actually experience the joy of cooking, eating, and cleaning up together. Still, others will rediscover the wonders of reading a good book, playing board games, and simply sharing life with one another. If this is you, try to not be frustrated or upset by this radical change to your routine. You might enjoy it more than you can imagine.
Still, fears abound. As a result, many people will be seeking God for answers. Stand ready, for this state of affairs will present numerous opportunities for us to love our neighbors and share the gospel in the coming days. Because this is a worldwide situation, we are truly all in this together. We may be quarantined and encouraged to practice social distancing, but we don’t have be isolated. This is a time for practicing the greatest and second-greatest commandments. That’s one more good reason to rejoice.
I believe this is a providential moment. It is an intentional cosmic pause that we should not rush to speed up. Instead we should determine to wait on the Lord. Be still and know. Cease your striving, lean in, be quiet, and wait. This doesn’t mean you do nothing, but it does mean that the things you do are focused on His glory and not just filler. Your children are watching to see how you respond. Do you panic or pray? Do you exercise fear or faith? Do we wrestle or wait? Do you binge or believe?
I stepped outside on my porch this morning and listened to the birds sing their early springtime melodies. Creation continues to worship its Creator. The same should be true for you and me. Go outside, look up to the skies, take a brisk walk, say a prayer, reject your old idols, repent, and rejoice in the King of kings and Lord of lords.
As Paul says, you can and should rejoice in the Lord. When? Always! You don’t need to be anxious about the coronavirus or anything else. You can pray anytime and with sincere thanksgiving present your very real and serious requests to the King of creation. And He will give you His peace that surpasses all understanding and guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.
Let me close with a selection from the Book of Common Prayer. This prayer is recommended for any time of fear, plague, or sickness: O Almighty God, who in thy wrath didst send a plague upon thine own people in the wilderness, for their obstinate rebellion against Moses and Aaron; and also, in the time of king David, didst slay with the plague of pestilence threescore and ten thousand, and yet remembering thy mercy didst save the rest: Have pity upon us miserable sinners, who now are visited with great sickness and mortality; that like as thou didst then accept of an atonement, and didst command the destroying Angel to cease from punishing, so it may now please thee to withdraw from us this plague and grievous sickness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!
Davis is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation- based science and Bible curriculum. He is the author of five illustrated children’s books designed to help parents instill a biblical worldview in the hearts and minds of their preschoolers. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now! You can hear more of what he has to say at the Let’s Talk Homeschool Podcast.
© 2021 Davis Carman