Guard Your Heart from the CoronavirusMarch 19, 2020 Suffering
So it’s late Wednesday night. Everyone in my home is sleeping. And I can’t help but think back on how much has changed in our world in less than a week. Just a few weeks ago, a nearly unknown virus had us slapping our knees as we joked that something is always getting people concerned for no reason. But now, the whole world has been brought to its knees. We are coming to grips with the fact that there are more than enough reasons to be concerned.
What seemed so far away has now come near. The first case of the Covid-19 disease has been confirmed in our county. The coronavirus has come and it has brought much with it. Schools have closed. Sports have been canceled. Churches have closed. Events have been canceled. Restaurants have closed. Our lives have completely changed. What seemed far-fetched just a week ago is the new reality that we are starting to settle into.
The coronavirus is here. And it is changing nearly everything about us.
In the coming weeks and days, we will be flooded with information. We’ll hear reports from the CDC. We’ll watch briefings from the Governor and the President of the United States. We’ll watch videos about the spread of Covid-19. And we’ll be told to protect ourselves and our neighbors from this pandemic.
The dangers of spreading this disease seem real enough. But tonight I’m wondering if there’s more danger here than we see. Certainly, we must do everything we can to protect ourselves and those we love from this disease. But what about the danger from within? What about our hearts?
You see, this pandemic will no doubt affect us deeply. It may cause us to question. It may expose doubts and fears we never knew we had. It may leave us restless and possibly even hopeless. So where do we turn for strength? How can we find peace? Is there even any hope for us?
Jesus knows the human heart is a tricky thing (John 2:25). He knows people can say one thing and mean another (Matthew 22:18). He knows people can be all in one minute and walking away the next (John 6:66). He knows the struggles that go far beyond words and deed and into the depths of our divided hearts (Matthew 15:19). And he knows that any victory we can experience over unbelief or sin or worry must come from the heart (Matthew 12:35).
And so for Jesus’ sake, we must guard our hearts now more than ever. If we are going to be faithful during all of this, we must guard our hearts. If we are going to be at peace during all of this, we must guard our hearts. If we are going to cling to our hope in Jesus, we must guard our hearts.
We Need Faith Not Fear
Whenever something difficult happens in our lives, it often leaves us filled with questions. What does this mean for our families? Will we get sick? Will we have the medical care we need with it’s our turn? What does this mean for our finances? Will we be able to pay the bills in a few months? Will we be able to even buy food before this is over? What about our church? What about our schools? The questions can go on and on. And with every question comes the fear of what could and very well might happen.
Jairus was a man who knew fear. His daughter was at the point of death and he was filled with fear and desperation. He had heard that Jesus of Nazareth was in his town and that Jesus might be the only person who could help his daughter. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to heal his daughter. But before they could reach the house, the word came that the little girl had died. Jairus’ worst fears had come true. But Jesus looked at him and said, “Do not fear, only believe,” (Mark 5:36).
Jesus is speaking that same word to our hearts today. Do not fear. Only believe. Jesus is calling us to the faith that casts out the mountains of fear. He is calling us to trust him even when we see no reason to trust. He is calling us to an unshakable faith in his unbreakable love. If we are going to guard our hearts, then we must believe that the same Jesus who raised that little girl to life is the same Jesus who is with us now. The same Jesus who will one day raise us from the dead is the same Jesus who we need to trust even now. Jesus is calling us to guard our hearts from fear with faith.
We Need Peace Not Panic
If you're like me, you can sense the panic rising in our community. The grocery stores are bare. Businesses are closing. People are starting to get the sense that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. It won’t be long before panic takes root in our hearts.
On the eve of his death, Jesus warned his disciples that things would not always be easy for them. Suffering was coming for them. Persecution was coming for them. Even death was possibly coming for them. But he said these words to them, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33).
Jesus is speaking that same word to our hearts today. Take heart. Have peace. I have overcome the world. Jesus spoke those words knowing that in the coming hours he was going to suffer and die. And he did it so that he might right every wrong, so that he might heal every wound, so that he might wipe away every tear. So now, the risen Christ is offering to us his peace. The peace that Jesus purchased with his own blood. The peace that surpasses understanding. Jesus is calling us to guard our hearts from panic with peace.
We Need Worship Not Worry
As I’m sitting here in my quiet house, I can’t shake the feeling that worry is settling deep in my heart. I’m worried for our nation. I’m worried for our church. I’m worried for my family. There is a looming sense that this is just the deep breath before the plunge. The calm before the storm. The stillness before the chaos.
But Jesus has been putting the chaos under his feet since the beginning. In creation, he put the chaos into submission and brought forth goodness and life (Genesis 1:2). In the exodus, he split the chaos and brought his people to safety (Exodus 14:21). And at just a word, Jesus calmed the chaos on the sea of Galilee and the chaos in his disciples' hearts. Jesus came walking to them on the storm and said, “Do not be alarmed; I AM,” (John 6:20).
Jesus is speaking that same word to our hearts today. Do not be worried. I AM. Jesus is calling us to put away the worry in our hearts and fill it with worship. Jesus is not just a miracle worker, someone handy to have around when things go south. Jesus is the very fullness of God. He is the Great I AM here in human form. He is Immanuel—God with us. And he is worthy of all our worship. Even in the storm. Even in the chaos. Even in the midst of the coronavirus. Jesus is calling us to guard our hearts from worry with worship.
So by all means, let’s work hard to put an end to this virus. Let’s be safe. Let’s be smart. Let’s wash our hands. Let’s be sure to guard ourselves against the dangers out there. But let’s not forget to guard our hearts against the dangers within. Let’s fight fear with faith. Let’s fight panic with peace. Let’s fight worry with worship. And let’s look to Jesus as the one who knows our hearts. The one who died and rose again to dwell in our hearts deeper than any virus ever could.