The “L” Word

After one full year of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s time to tackle the “L” word…as in loneliness. If ever anything has hit our society and the world that has caused so much loneliness and isolation, it is Covid-19; however, in actuality, it just added to the already existing universal epidemic of loneliness that has existed long before the pandemic arrived.

In an article published on May 19, 2020, on Time.com titled, COVID-19 Is Making America’s Loneliness Epidemic Even Worse,” by Jamie Ducharme, TIME staff writer covering health, she opens her article with the following:

Driving around her Kearney, Missouri neighborhood is both respite and torture for Kathie Hodgson. She likes seeing other people out and about; it reminds her what life was like before COVID-19. But Hodgson, a 41-year-old teacher who lives alone after a recent divorce, says seeing happy families playing in their yards or walking their dogs can also send her plunging deep into a spiral of loneliness.

“You know, as much as I have valued my independence in the past year, it’s finally hitting me that I would like to curl up on the couch with somebody at night,” Hodgson says.

The irony, Hodgson says, is she was thrilled to live alone before the coronavirus pandemic hit, enjoying her “me time” and the newfound ability to date and see friends whenever she wanted—not long ago, she lived with her kids (who recently grew up and moved out) and a partner (who she recently divorced). But now that she’s confined to her apartment almost 24 hours a day, she is feeling the emptiness of her home acutely.

“Some days I smile and feel okay,” Hodgson says. “And other days I curl up in a ball and wonder if this goes on too much longer, will I be able to take it mentally? Can I last sanely living alone for months—a year?”

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, public-health experts were concerned about an epidemic of loneliness in the U.S. The coronavirus has exacerbated that problem, with most face-to-face socializing for people still under lockdown orders indefinitely limited to members of their own households. For the 35.7 million Americans who live alone, that means no meaningful social contact at all, potentially for months on end.

Experts are rightly concerned about the mental health ramifications of this widespread isolation, especially since there’s no agreed-upon tipping point at which acute loneliness transitions into a chronic problem with long-term consequences. A group of doctors from Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School warned in an April 22 commentary published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that physical distancing and stress caused by the pandemic, combined with rising firearm sales, could worsen the suicide crisis the U.S. has already been weathering for more than a decade.

On the other hand, some mental health advocates are optimistic that COVID-19 will finally give loneliness the mainstream recognition it deserves—possibly paving the way for a more socially connected future.

For such a common experience, loneliness is surprisingly slippery to define clinically. Loneliness is not included in the DSM-5, the official diagnostic manual for mental health disorders, but it goes hand-in-hand with many conditions that are. It’s often lumped together with social isolation, but the two concepts are different. Social isolation is an objective indicator of how much contact somebody has with other people, whereas loneliness is “the subjective feeling of isolation,” says Dr. Carla Perissinotto, a geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco who studies loneliness. Being alone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re lonely, nor does being around people mean you’re not, Perissonotto says. Loneliness is a feeling only the person experiencing it can truly identify. (Quote source and the rest of the article is located at this link.)

As noted in the article above, Social isolation is an objective indicator of how much contact somebody has with other people, whereas loneliness is the subjective feeling of isolation…. Being alone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re lonely, nor does being around people mean you’re not…. Loneliness is a feeling only the person experiencing it can truly identify.” This distinction is important.

To show just how pervasive loneliness is in America, here are some pre-pandemic statics from a survey conducted in 2019 taken from the above article from CIGNA surveys on loneliness in America (source here):

Share of Americans who reported being lonely in 2019 (pre-pandemic):

Generation:
Gen Z (18-22): 79%
Millennials (23-38): 71%
Gen X (38-51): 65%
Boomers (52-71): 50%
Silent/Greatest (72+): 38%

Income:
Under $25k: 77%
$25,000 to $49,999: 64%
$50,000 to $74,999: 59%
$75,000 to $99,999: 55%
$100k or more: 53%

Living Status:
Living alone: 69%
Living w/one other: 51%
Living with 2+ others: 65%

Gender:
Female: 58%
Male: 63%

Now that I am single and sixty, I spend more time alone than I used to when I was married. However, I spend less time being lonely. I was always lonely in my marriage, not as a mother but as a wife.  I was almost never alone but was always lonely.

Here are 10 subtle and not-so-subtle differences between the two and a few suggestions on how to turn loneliness around.

1. You can be happy while you are alone. The same can’t be said for being lonely.

2. Sitting in a football stadium full of people, you can be lonely. It is not a question of numbers, but of emotions. If you are watching the football game at home by yourself, well you get it, you are just alone.

3. Some things are preferable when you are alone like reading. You might prefer to read when alone. It is great to nap while you are alone. On the other hand, if you are feeling lonely, a Saturday date-night movie by yourself might not be the best time to venture out.  

4. Sometimes being lonely might make you try something new to get over the loneliness. You might join a group or class that will allow you to learn a new skill or improve on an old hobby. The sheer making the arrangements can go a long way in helping with loneliness. And, you will meet new people and maybe form some new friendships. It feels great to take control in improving your situation, and the worst thing that can happen is that you still feel lonely. What have you got to lose? You can still be alone anytime.

5. Laughter is great for loneliness and also for when you are alone. It is hard to feel lonely when you are laughing, try it. And, it is wonderful to be alone when you want to laugh out loud.

6. On special occasions, to avoid loneliness, nothing replaces planning. If you know you are going to be lonely for Christmas, plan ahead. Do everything you can to make it better before it comes up. Let’s face it, nothing makes up for not being with loved ones, or not having loved ones around on family holidays but you can work on it. Last year I planned a movie with a friend for Christmas morning because neither of us had any plans until later in the day and it kept me from feeling so blue on the first Christmas morning in my life when I wouldn’t be with my children. I was alone when I woke up but had plans that kept me from being lonely.

7. If you want to watch a big game but it feels so lonely to do it by yourself at home, go to a nearby restaurant or bar and watch for a while. Much of the fun is just being around other people to cheer on your team. It might take care of your loneliness. But, if you want to watch alone, no shame in that either.

8.  Speaking of bars and restaurants, if you want to have a drink when you are alone, well that’s up to you. If you want to have a drink when you are lonely…don’t do it. It is nothing but a slippery slope that will just make you feel worse.

9. I hate to put this in, but cleaning makes me feel less lonely. I think because I start thinking about how great my place will look when someone comes to see it. How much all of this organization will make me happy when I finish. And, of course, I must do it while I am alone.

10. Being lonely makes me tired, in a sad sort of way. Draggy. I find that exercise helps, as much as I hate to admit it. If I exercise and I am tired, I deserve to be.  Being alone does not make me tired.

Of course, much of this is tongue-in-cheek, but it’s rooted in my experiences over my 60 years. I have to trick myself a lot in order not to feel lonely. I hope I won’t always have to do that. I don’t treat loneliness lightly, though. If you feel lonely, but you feel that it will pass or diminish over time, then that seems like a healthy attitude to me. However, if you are living under a dark cloud that never seems to go away, that probably needs help from the outside, whatever that looks like to you. (Quote source here.)

This brings us to a topic associated with being alone but not lonely, and that is solitude. In an article published in Psychology Today titled, What is Solitude?” by Hara Estroff Marano, Editor at Large of Psychology Today, she writes:

Loneliness is marked by a sense of isolation. Solitude, on the other hand, is a state of being alone without being lonely and can lead to self-awareness.

As the world spins faster and faster—or maybe it just seems that way when an email can travel around the world in fractions of a second—we mortals need a variety of ways to cope with the resulting pressures. We need to maintain some semblance of balance and some sense that we are steering the ship of our life.

Otherwise we feel overloaded, overreact to minor annoyances and feel like we can never catch up. As far as I’m concerned, one of the best ways is by seeking, and enjoying, solitude.

That said, there is an important distinction to be established right off the bat. There is a world of difference between solitude and loneliness, though the two terms are often used interchangeably.

From the outside, solitude and loneliness look a lot alike. Both are characterized by solitariness. But all resemblance ends at the surface.

Loneliness is a negative state, marked by a sense of isolation. One feels that something is missing. It is possible to be with people and still feel lonely—perhaps the most bitter form of loneliness.

Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely. It is a positive and constructive state of engagement with oneself. Solitude is desirable, a state of being alone where you provide yourself wonderful and sufficient company.

Solitude is a time that can be used for reflection, inner searching or growth or enjoyment of some kind. Deep reading requires solitude, so does experiencing the beauty of nature. Thinking and creativity usually do too.

Solitude suggests peacefulness stemming from a state of inner richness. It is a means of enjoying the quiet and whatever it brings that is satisfying and from which we draw sustenance. It is something we cultivate. Solitude is refreshing; an opportunity to renew ourselves. In other words, it replenishes us.

Loneliness is harsh, punishment, a deficiency state, a state of discontent marked by a sense of estrangement, an awareness of excess aloneness.

Solitude is something you choose. Loneliness is imposed on you by others.

We all need periods of solitude, although temperamentally we probably differ in the amount of solitude we need. Some solitude is essential; It gives us time to explore and know ourselves. It is the necessary counterpoint to intimacy, what allows us to have a self worthy of sharing. Solitude gives us a chance to regain perspective. It renews us for the challenges of life. It allows us to get (back) into the position of driving our own lives, rather than having them run by schedules and demands from without.

Solitude restores body and mind. Loneliness depletes them. (Quote source here.)

And here is one last article that reminds us that loneliness is a universal human emotion. This article is titled, Jesus Was Lonely, Too,” published on Beliefnet.com, and it is a excerpt from the book, A Touch of His Presence, by Dr. Charles Stanley,  Founder of InTouch Ministries and Pastor Emeritus (51 years) at First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Loneliness is one of the most crushing human emotions. The feelings of abandonment and isolation create an overwhelming sense of helplessness and despair. People in the throes of a heightened state of loneliness often fall prey to temptations or behaviors that are extremely atypical. It is a dangerous place to be. Jesus knows what it is like to be lonely. As the perfect Son of God, he certainly was unlike all the other children in Nazareth. And we all know that when a person is different from the crowd, they usually spend time by themselves. Shortly after he began his public ministry, many of the disciples left him when his teachings became too difficult to grasp. At the time of his greatest sorrow, the handful that remained scattered, leaving him utterly alone.

As our sympathetic High Priest who “had to be made like his brothers in every way” (Hebrews 2:17) and who “shared in [our] humanity” (Hebrews 2:14), Jesus is intimately acquainted with the devastating effect of loneliness. He is also able to come to our aid with help and hope that can lift us out of the deepest pit.

Jesus hears our heart cry. The faintest whisper of a heart that feels alone and abandoned comes before the heart of a loving Father who will go to any lengths to comfort his children. In fact, he has already gone to the extreme in offering himself on the cross and since he did not spare his only son, he will freely give us the help we need (Romans 8:32). When Hagar and her son were dying in the desert after being cast out by Sarah, God heard her feeble voice and nurtured them. When Elijah sat alone after his power encounter with the prophets of Baal, he sat down and collapsed, wondering if he was the only one left in Israel who still called on God. The Lord encouraged him with the news of many others, though he knew none of them.

Throughout the Scriptures when men and women of faith faced great challenges, God reminded them of his powerful presence, saying to them, “I am with you.” They were afraid, anxious, doubtful, and bewildered, but the awareness of God’s presence became their strength to deal with formidable odds. Lonely leaders were instilled with courage, lonely prophets with boldness, lonely apostles with hope.

Remember, God is with us. The God who is able. The God who is kind. The God who is gentle. The God who knows all our needs. The God who is faithful. The God who works all things together for good. The God who loves us with an everlasting love.

God has already turned to you through the indwelling presence of his Spirit. His face shines upon you. Turn to him and find the solace and help you need. It may come through a Scripture promise. It may come through a prayer. It may come through his still voice when you are quiet on your bed. But it will come, because he has come into your life forever.

“Jesus, you do know what loneliness is like. You understand when I come to you with my feelings and do not condemn me. Thank you for allowing me to express my inner pain to you. You are always there for me and you will never cast me out. I run into your arms.” (Quote source here.)

I’ll end this post with the words found in Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)–The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you….

Do not be afraid . . .

[And] do not be . . . 

Discouraged . . . .

YouTube Video: “Never Alone” by Teri Kelly:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

A Virtual Memorial Day Celebration

Today is Memorial Day here in America. As stated on AARP’s website: “The COVID-19 pandemic has upended life as we know it, forcing us to alter our behavior for the sake of public health. Memorial Day is no exception. Although most parades and public events have been cancelled for this year’s Memorial Day, there are still ways to honor service members who lost their lives. We compiled a list of events and services that can help you observe the holiday from home or within your community.” (Quote source and their list of activities can be found at this link.)

I watched the National Memorial Day Concert on television yesterday that was broadcast on PBS, and it was excellent. It is available to watch on their website at this link, and it is one hour and 25 minutes in length. One of the songs performed during this concert is titled “Still a Soldier” and it is sung by Trace Adkins (YouTube video is at the bottom of this blog post).

There are several veterans in my family including myself, but I don’t count what I did as anything even remotely close to my other family members who served in the military. My dad and stepmother served in the U.S. Navy during World War 2 (and my dad remained in the Naval Reserve for 20 years after his active duty ended); my older brother served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and he was stationed in Saigon; and my stepbrother served in the U.S. Army for several years including being stationed in Germany. I served in the U.S. Army on a two-year enlistment they had at the time, and I was stationed in South Korea at the tail end of the Vietnam War. Three of them have passed on–my stepbrother died in 2008, my stepmother died in 2011, and my dad died a year ago in June 2019. While none of them died in active service, they were veterans at the time of their death, so I remember them on this day as well as on Veteran’s Day.

In an article titled, Memorial Day Meaning,” published on AllAboutHistory.org is the transcript of a speech given by President Ronald Reagan at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day in 1986. Here is that article and the transcript of President Reagan’s speech:

Memorial Day Meaning – The History

Each May, the United States celebrates a day called Memorial Day. Does Memorial Day have meaning? What is the history of Memorial Day?

Memorial Day was first widely observed in May 1868. The celebration commemorated the sacrifices of the Civil War and the proclamation was made by General John A Logan. Following the proclamation, participants decorated graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers.

In years since World War 1, the day has become a celebration of honor for those who died in all America’s wars, as well as those who are Veterans and current members of the US military.

In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday. The United States celebrates this holiday the last Monday of May.

Memorial Day Meaning – Reagan’s Speech

President Ronald Reagan is credited with reviving the practice of honoring Memorial Day and its meaning. One of his famous speeches was given at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day in 1986:

“Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It’s a day to be with the family and remember.

“I was thinking this morning that across the country children and their parents will be going to the town parade and the young ones will sit on the sidewalks and wave their flags as the band goes by. Later, maybe, they’ll have a cookout or a day at the beach. And that’s good, because today is a day to be with the family and to remember.

“Arlington, this place of so many memories, is a fitting place for some remembering. So many wonderful men and women rest here, men and women who led colorful, vivid, and passionate lives. There are the greats of the military: Bull Halsey and the Admirals Leahy, father and son; Black Jack Pershing; and the GI’s general, Omar Bradley. Great men all, military men. But there are others here known for other things.

“Here in Arlington rests a sharecropper’s son who became a hero to a lonely people. Joe Louis came from nowhere, but he knew how to fight. And he galvanized a nation in the days after Pearl Harbor when he put on the uniform of his country and said, ‘I know we’ll win because we’re on God’s side.’ Audie Murphy is here, Audie Murphy of the wild, wild courage. For what else would you call it when a man bounds to the top of a disabled tank, stops an enemy advance, saves lives, and rallies his men, and all of it single-handedly. When he radioed for artillery support and was asked how close the enemy was to his position, he said, ‘Wait a minute and I’ll let you speak to them.’ [Laughter]

“Michael Smith is here, and Dick Scobee, both of the space shuttle Challenger. Their courage wasn’t wild, but thoughtful, the mature and measured courage of career professionals who took prudent risks for great reward—in their case, to advance the sum total of knowledge in the world. They’re only the latest to rest here; they join other great explorers with names like Grissom and Chaffee.

“Oliver Wendell Holmes is here, the great jurist and fighter for the right. A poet searching for an image of true majesty could not rest until he seized on ‘Holmes dissenting in a sordid age.’ Young Holmes served in the Civil War. He might have been thinking of the crosses and stars of Arlington when he wrote: ‘At the grave of a hero we end, not with sorrow at the inevitable loss, but with the contagion of his courage; and with a kind of desperate joy we go back to the fight.’

“All of these men were different, but they shared this in common: They loved America very much. There was nothing they wouldn’t do for her. And they loved with the sureness of the young. It’s hard not to think of the young in a place like this, for it’s the young who do the fighting and dying when a peace fails and a war begins. Not far from here is the statue of the three servicemen—the three fighting boys of Vietnam. It, too, has majesty and more. Perhaps you’ve seen it—three rough boys walking together, looking ahead with a steady gaze. There’s something wounded about them, a kind of resigned toughness. But there’s an unexpected tenderness, too. At first you don’t really notice, but then you see it. The three are touching each other, as if they’re supporting each other, helping each other on.

“I know that many veterans of Vietnam will gather today, some of them perhaps by the wall. And they’re still helping each other on. They were quite a group, the boys of Vietnam—boys who fought a terrible and vicious war without enough support from home, boys who were dodging bullets while we debated the efficacy of the battle. It was often our poor who fought in that war; it was the unpampered boys of the working class who picked up the rifles and went on the march. They learned not to rely on us; they learned to rely on each other. And they were special in another way: They chose to be faithful. They chose to reject the fashionable skepticism of their time. They chose to believe and answer the call of duty. They had the wild, wild courage of youth. They seized certainty from the heart of an ambivalent age; they stood for something.

“And we owe them something, those boys. We owe them first a promise: That just as they did not forget their missing comrades, neither, ever, will we. And there are other promises. We must always remember that peace is a fragile thing that needs constant vigilance. We owe them a promise to look at the world with a steady gaze and, perhaps, a resigned toughness, knowing that we have adversaries in the world and challenges and the only way to meet them and maintain the peace is by staying strong.

“That, of course, is the lesson of this century, a lesson learned in the Sudetenland, in Poland, in Hungary, in Czechoslovakia, in Cambodia. If we really care about peace, we must stay strong. If we really care about peace, we must, through our strength, demonstrate our unwillingness to accept an ending of the peace. We must be strong enough to create peace where it does not exist and strong enough to protect it where it does. That’s the lesson of this century and, I think, of this day. And that’s all I wanted to say. The rest of my contribution is to leave this great place to its peace, a peace it has earned.

“Thank all of you, and God bless you, and have a day full of memories.” (Quote source here.) (YouTube video of Reagan’s speech is below.)

This Memorial Day is quieter then most due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing restrictions that are in place right now and many of the ceremonies have been held online. As we remember those service men and women who have died in service for our country or later on in life, and as we honor those veterans who are still alive; let us pray for God’s blessing on America, and ask for God’s protection over those who are servicing in all branches of our military. And may we never forget . . .

Freedom . . .

Isn’t . . .

Free . . . .

YouTube Video: Reagan’s Remarks at a Memorial Day Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia — 5/26/86:

YouTube Video: Trace Adkins Performing “Still a Soldier” at the 2020 National Memorial Day Concert:

YouTube Video: Moment of Remembrance (Taps) – Memorial Day 2020:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Silver Linings

For over six years now I’ve been trying to find an apartment to rent in an income-based senior apartment complex. I thought that search had finally ended about a month ago when I got a call from an income-based senior apartment complex in the area where I am currently living that had recently opened in 2017, and on my third try at trying to secure an apartment there, I was finally told there was an apartment available for me to rent. Wow. It’s been a very long time in coming.

I met with the assistant manager on April 21st and I filled out the application to rent the apartment and paid the application fee. I submitted all of the paperwork required on my income/finances, and I was told the apartment was available for me to rent on either May 8th or May 15th. I chose May 8th.

I was sent my new address for that apartment via email also on April 21st along with the information I needed to set up utilities and internet/cable in that apartment starting on May 8th, but I had not yet been given a lease to sign. So I didn’t call the utilities company or the cable/internet company yet as it was not “official” as I had not been given a lease to sign nor had I received keys to the apartment.

About a week before I was scheduled to move in I received a communication from the assistant manager that their compliance department requested me to submit complete monthly statements on the two assets I had listed on the application. I had submitted summary statements regarding these two assets at the time of my application, and I had been told that the summary statements would be fine. However, the compliance department requested to see the full monthly statements on both assets that consisted of 23 pages, so I submitted them to the assistant manager. This occurred one week before I was scheduled to move in.

I inquired on that Monday of the week I was scheduled to move in (just this past week) if everything was still in order for me to move in on May 8th. I still has not heard back from the assistant manager regarding when I would be signing the lease and receiving keys to the apartment. I had not yet even seen the apartment as I was told by the assistant manager it would not be ready for me to see until the maintenance staff had completed work in the apartment after the previous tenant vacated it on April 30th.

I should note that I had no furniture to move into the apartment as I lost all of my furniture 11 years ago when I lost a job in Texas and I had to move back to state I previously lived in a year earlier (Florida) where I had lived before accepting that job in Houston that only lasted seven months, and I could not afford to move my furniture back to Florida as I was unemployed, so I gave it away to a inner-city ministry in Houston.

With no furniture to move into this apartment that I was about to acquire, between April 21st when my application for that apartment was submitted, and leading up to the day I was scheduled to move into the apartment, I went looking for furniture to buy. However, I did not order any furniture during that time as I was still waiting to sign a lease.

Exactly one day before I was scheduled to move into this apartment I received an email from the assistant manager stating that after reviewing my 23 pages of documentation, the compliance department stated that I was no longer eligible to rent that apartment as the monthly income they determined me to have from those documents (and not the actual monthly income I live on and I proved to them that it was my only income) was more then I was allowed to have to rent that apartment. So, at the last minute I ended up losing that apartment.

For six years I’ve been looking for affordable senior housing in which I have been placed on several waiting lists in two different states, but I never heard back from any of them even when I called to inquire where I stood on their waiting lists. And now, when I am finally told an apartment has opened up that I can rent (as I mentioned above I’ve gone to that complex looking to rent an apartment three times since they opened in 2017), at the last minute it falls through.

To say the very least, a silver lining can be very hard to find in a situation like this one. However, being an eternal optimist, I’ve gone looking for one. My optimism is firmly planted in reality, too, as I do not believe in a “Pollyanna” or “pie in the sky” type of optimism as there are plenty of forces in our world that try to hold people back from moving forward, and history is replete with examples.

In an article published on April 3, 2014, titled, For Christians, a silver lining to losing the culture war?” by Matt K. Lewis, a political writer and commentator, blogger, podcaster, and senior columnist for The Daily Beast, formerly with The Daily Caller, and contributor with The Week, he writes:

As I wrote last year, the culture war is over, and conservatives lost. For Christians, though, there might just be a silver lining.

Now, of course, it’s understandable why many of my fellow cultural conservatives mourn the decline of Christian values in the public arena, inasmuch as they had a powerful influence on the rise of western civilization. Historians like Rodney Stark and sociologists like Mary Eberstadt (and many others) have chronicled this phenomenon. It’s not simply about “losing power and market share,” but mourning the very real downstream effects of secular liberal policies on issues such as defending the unborn.

But there are reasons for Christian conservatives to be optimistic about these societal changes, too. For one thing, the good times weren’t always so good. The peak of “Christian America” was probably the 1950s, and while this era had a veneer of spirituality and perhaps the post-war evangelical movement was at its apogee (think Billy Graham), America was plagued by the ugly reality of racism, which goes against the gospel. In many ways, the 1950s was a gilded age. While a lot of Americans presented themselves as Ward Cleaver, they drank and philandered like Don Draper.

In the 1960s and beyond, the rejection of Christianity was a logical extension for young people rebelling against the culture’s sterility and their parent’s phoniness. This was an ironic turn of events for a faith that began as a very revolutionary, counter-cultural movement about sacrifice and (yes, sometimes) suffering. But at some point, rather than being a dangerous choice, Christianity became the perfunctory, convenient, de rigueur even, choice of lemmings—and the way to gain the approval of the phony establishment, not unlike joining the Elks Lodge upon moving to a new town.

Eventually, in many parts of the country, the church became an almost wholly-owned subsidiary of the Republican Party, which pushed to return America to its Judeo-Christian heritage. This was a noble goal, but there might have been some unintended consequences. When religion enjoys the imprimatur of the state, it risks being corrupted and co-opted. Do Christians really want the state leading their children in prayer?

None of this, of course, is appealing to romantic young people who want to be boldly called to something larger than their own self interest. For this reason, we have seen the decline of mainline churches in America coincide with the rise of Christianity in other (less welcoming) parts of the world. And for this reason, I suspect, we have seen more and more young Christians checking out of politics.

That’s why the loss of the culture war is an opportunity rather than a crisis. It is in times like these—when there is a stark cleavage between the world and believers—that Christianity typically grows and rediscovers its purpose.

Just as political parties wrestle with whether or not it’s better to be a big tent, or (to paraphrase Reagan) to fly “a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors,” there is an argument that “nominal” Christians cause more problems than solutions. In politics, numbers matter, of course, and Christians who are still looking for a political savior may view this trend as bad news. But for Christians focused on something more transcendent—saving souls and winning real converts—there is a silver lining to losing the culture.

Consider this Christian Post article, citing Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission:

While Americans have traditionally viewed church participation as necessary for acceptance in their communities, Moore believes that will no longer be the case. This means that there will be fewer “nominal Christians,” or those who call themselves Christian but are not committed to the faith. With this “reverse rapture” of nominal Christians leaving the Church, Moore sees an opportunity for the Church to rediscover its true mission. [Christian Post]

The problem of “nominal” Christianity seems to have observable societal consequences, too. In his latest column for the New York Times, Ross Douthat hints at it, observing that “the social goods associated with faith flow almost exclusively from religious participation, not from affiliation or nominal belief.”

Another possible silver lining: As Christianity recedes as the dominant cultural paradigm, it might also have the ironic affect of sparking a renewed interest and curiosity about spirituality. Absence, I suppose, can make the heart grow fonder. With Noah triumphing at the box office, and a new show called Resurrection on ABC (a show filled with biblical allusions), it would be easy to conclude that a disenchanted and dispirited nation—having given up hope that salvation will come in the form of traditional American institutions—is yearning for some sort of spiritual fulfillment.

Christ promised that genuine Christianity would be met with opposition. And the entire book o1 Peter was written for this purpose: How do we live as a faithful minority? I don’t think anyone should be rooting for persecution, of course, but I do think there may be some very positive developments to come from a nation that no longer pretends to be Christian. It’s hard to be a rebel when you’re The Man. (Quote source here.)

I do realize that this article does not specifically relate to my six-plus-years failed housing search, but then maybe again it does. Let’s continue on with that train of thought started by Matt K. Lewis above.

In an articled published on March 29, 2020, titled, The silver lining: Finding an upside in today’s crisis,” by Dave Edgren, pastor and author, he writes:

I don’t believe God sends calamities. God didn’t send the coronavirus.

What I do believe is this: The Holy Spirit is busy insulating clouds with silver linings.

In the first hundred years or so after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Church went viral. It grew exponentially. The Great Commission was infiltrating families, towns, countries and continents.

Jesus’ disciples grew in number daily.

And they did it in homes.

That’s right. Every church was a house church. The church spread like wildfire because the church was liquid. Then our ancestors turned the church into a solid. They built walls around it—both theological and physical walls. They set it in stone. They bricked God in. Sure, they put in doors and stained-glass windows, but cathedral doors are often locked and theological stained-glass windows are always closed. The church of the Middle Ages restricted access to God.

Then the reformation decentralized the church, allowing denominational divisions to thrive. Now, the world hosts over 30,000 distinct Christian denominations!

And yet, Jesus said to His Father, “May they be one as we are one.” Paul riffed on this prayer of Jesus, saying: “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”

So, here we are in 2020. Governments in dozens of countries have restricted mass gatherings due to the rapidly spreading COVID-19. Sporting teams played games to empty stadiums attended only by TV cameras, but now most codes have cancelled their seasons altogether. Pop stars cancelled concerts. Places of worship have been closed. Mosques. Temples. Synagogues. Churches. The clouds hang low, blanketing the world in fear. The 30,000 Christian denominations that meet in some 15 million church buildings around the globe have nowhere to go.

Or do they?

The Holy Spirit is unrestricted and goes wherever He wishes, like wind through trees.

Have you ever flown through a cloud? We are in one now. Can you see the silver lining?

Millions of Christians headed home. Not to do church but to be the church. Christianity, for a month or two, is going back to its roots. People meeting in homes. Families worshiping together in sincerity. No sound systems. No professionals professing. The body of Christ is returning to the lounge room. Just people. At home. Snuggled into fluffed up couches, holding steaming drinks. And sharing their hearts.

God didn’t send the COVID-19. But when the “corona cloud” enveloped us, God said, “I’ll take it!” And He sent His Spirit with silver paint and a message: “Where two or three are gathered, God is with you.” (Quote source here.)

“Liquid” –as in fluid and not static or confined. “Unrestricted–like wind through trees.” I like that thought. Sans any furniture of my own, or a year-long lease that I would have had a legal obligation to keep for the next year had I been able to rent that apartment, I am still very much “fluid and unrestricted.” I’m not tied down to any particular place for any set period of time. And where I am currently staying I pay rent by the week, and it came furnished, too. And that means more options are open to me then are closed to me. And that is a very big silver lining.

James 4:13-17 states, Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

I’ll end this post with words from Paul found in Philippians 4:6-7Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding…

Will guard your hearts . . .

And your minds . . .

In Christ Jesus. . . .

YouTube Video: “Freedom” by Jesus Culture:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Know the Difference

As a follow-up to my last blog post titled, Uncertain Times,” that had to do with the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, it is important to know the difference between the symptoms of COVID-19 as compared to the flu or allergy symptoms since we are entering peak allergy season right now. The picture at the top of this post gives you a quick list of symptoms for each.

In an article published on March 16, 2020, titled, Coronavirus Vs Flu Vs Allergy: Here’s how the symptoms of the three differ from each other, by Priyanka Mody, journalist and contributor at PinkVilla, she writes:

With symptoms like the common cold, headache and fever, the Coronavirus also known as COVID-19 can easily be mistaken for flu or even allergies for that matter. This can make things trickier by making it difficult to diagnose the virus without a test.

The Coronavirus primarily affects people’s lungs by causing difficulty in breathing or even shortness of breath with dry coughing being a common symptom. Now, if you have a runny nose, you are probably not affected by the Coronavirus. 

Now, if you are short on breath, it is a symptom which is not associated with colds or flu. Headaches and diarrhea is a rare symptom of Coronavirus. 

Now, when it comes to flu and cold, weakness, chills and congestion are what you will experience. Influenza is mostly seasonal and if you experience it each year around the same period, there’s not much to worry about. But, if your city has documented Coronavirus and it is the middle of summer, it’s unlikely to be a flu.

Now, what makes it different from allergies is the fact that each allergy is different. You’d probably experience redness in your eyes with a stuffy nose and sneezing. Allergies tend to go away in a short period of time but, if you experience it for almost 14 days, that’s when you need to take it a step further and consult your doctor. 

Now, the right way to prevent the spread of the deadly virus is to keep a safe distance from people and avoid visiting any kinds of public places. Wash your hands with soap at regular intervals and avoid touching your face. (Quote source here.)

In an article published on March 17, 2020, on Prevention.com titled, Is It Coronavirus, Flu, or Allergies? Here’s How the Symptoms Differ, Per a Doctor,” by Elizabeth Millard, freelance writer focusing on health, wellness, fitness, and food, she writes:

Coughing, sneezing, runny nose, congestion, body aches, chills—obviously, you know you’re under the weather when symptoms like these appear, but how can you tell which storm it is?

Certain signs could point to the common cold or flu, while others may be more serious and present as early signs of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Even more confusing as we head into spring? Some might simply be an indication of seasonal allergies. Here, a doctor explains how to figure out what your body may be dealing with.

Allergies: runny nose + itchy eyes

Welcome to spring, and its many sources of potential allergens, including budding trees, grasses, and pollen. When you’re allergic, that kicks off a major immune response designed to flush out your system, according to Omid Mehdizadeh, M.D., otolaryngologist and laryngologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif.

You might develop a cough when you have allergies, a result of post-nasal drip, which means some of the mucus that accumulates in the sinus passages trickles down through the back of your throat. Dr. Mehdizadeh adds that you may even experience the opposite problem, where your nose gets congestedalong with sneezing, headaches, and red, itchy, or puffy eyes. Skin rashes may also occur in some people.

Flu: body aches

Despite coronavirus getting the most attention (and rightfully so), keep in mind that flu season is still in swing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that flu activity remains high right now for most of the country, with only three states—Arizona, Florida, and Wyoming—reporting minimal levels.

It’s important to note that even doctors have a difficult time differentiating a mild case of novel coronavirus from the common cold or flu, since there is a lot of overlap in symptoms. But if you are not experiencing a fever and are leaning more toward body aches and headaches, it’s likely a case of the flu, Dr. Mehdizadeh says. Here’s what flu symptoms can look and feel like overall, per the CDC:

    • Fever or feeling feverish/chills (but not for everyone)
    • Cough
    • Sore throat
    • Runny or stuffy nose
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headaches
    • Fatigue (tiredness)
    • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)

“Obviously, if you have symptoms like these, the best thing to do is stay home, rest, hydrate, and focus on getting healthy,” Dr. Mehdizadeh notes.

And, some good news: Measures that help prevent coronavirus spread, such as washing your hands more and maintaining more physical distance, can also help prevent the flu.

Coronavirus: fever + cough + shortness of breath

Although some people who come down with the flu may have a fever, an overwhelming majority of people who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 so far report that the disease started with a high temperature, according to Dr. Mehdizadeh.

It’s such a heads-up about the condition, in fact, that health officials automatically check for a fever when they screen people for COVID-19 at places like airports and even the White House press room. “This is absolutely the leading symptom,” says Dr. Mehdizadeh. “You should not have a fever with allergies, and if you do, it means there’s an underlying infection that you need to get checked.”

A small percentage of people who’ve had the virus also develop gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea or diarrhea, symptoms that don’t always come with the flu in adults. These signs could also be indications of norovirus, but with that illness, you’ll likely have more severe GI symptoms like vomiting and stomach pain.

Another major COVID-19 symptom that doesn’t typically present with other illnesses is shortness of breath, Dr. Mehdizadeh adds. The flu might give you some respiratory symptoms like coughing and congestion, but it rarely causes “air hunger,” in which you feel like you can’t get oxygen and you end up taking more breaths to compensate. That’s the situation with more advanced cases of COVID-19, he says.

In general, the main signs and symptoms of COVID-19 could vary and include the following, per a February report of a joint World Health Organization-China mission:

    • Fever
    • Dry cough
    • Fatigue
    • Sputum production
    • Shortness of breath
    • Sore throat
    • Muscle pain
    • Headaches

If you think you have COVID-19, the CDC recommendation is to call your physician’s office or hospital and describe your symptoms, rather than going to the emergency room, where you could expose others to the virus if you have it. You’ll be advised about next steps, whether that means staying home or going to a specific healthcare facility.

If you’re still unsure, ask yourself these questions:

What are your initial symptoms?

Runny nose and itchy eyes? Allergies. Aching muscles but no fever? It could be the flu. As for COVID-19, expect symptoms similar to the flu, but with fever coming on strong (and possible shortness of breath in advanced cases).

When did your symptoms start?

Seasonal allergies tend to come on gradually over a series of days or a week, since allergens are increasing every day, with trees budding and pollen spreading. The flu, however, tends to come on suddenly, and norovirus is even faster. There’s still much to learn about COVID-19, but current reports suggest that it begins slower than the flu—typically with a fever first followed by the symptoms mentioned above between two and 14 days after exposure.

Are symptoms getting progressively worse?

You should hit a plateau with allergies, although that can drag on for months. With a flu or COVID-19, you’re looking at around a week to 10 days with a milder case. But if your symptoms are worsening, you may be headed for pneumonia with the flu or respiratory distress with coronavirus. In either of those cases, seek medical attention.

Have you been traveling?

If you think you have COVID-19, you’re likely to be asked if you or someone you have direct contact with has been traveling—especially to hot spots where the virus is prevalent, like China or Italy—or if you’ve been on a cruise. (Quote source here.)

In this last article published on March 11, 2020, titled, How to tell the difference between the symptoms of coronavirus, allergies and the flu,” by A.J. Willingham, writer for CNN Digital, she gives the following information on context:

The coronavirus has infected more than 100,000 people worldwide. With all of the news of event cancellations, empty flights and health precautions (wash your hands!), it’s natural that people may get a little anxious every time they feel a tickle in their throat or the beginnings of a bad cough.

While the coronavirus is certainly something to take seriously, the chances of any individual person getting it are still low. But if you’re wondering whether that stuffy nose could end up being a worst case scenario, CNN talked to Dr. Greg Poland, a professor of medicine and Infectious diseases at the Mayo Clinic and director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, about the differences between typical allergy, cold and flu symptoms, and ones associated with the coronavirus.

Itchy eyes? Runny nose? You probably have allergies — or a garden variety cold.

“The issue with seasonal allergies is that they affect the nose and eye,” Poland says. “They tend to be nasal, and most symptoms are localized to the head, unless you also experience a rash.”

Coronavirus and flu symptoms tend to be more systemic.

That is, they affect the whole body.

“The flu and the novel coronavirus, these affect other systems and the lower respiratory tract,” Poland says. “You probably won’t have a runny nose, but what you might have is a sore throat, a cough, a fever or shortness of breath. So it’s a subtly different clinical diagnosis.”

Pay attention to your temperature: Poland says it’s very unlikely that allergies would result in a fever. They usually don’t cause shortness of breath either, unless you have a preexisting condition like asthma.

Allergy symptoms are regularly occurring, and usually mild.

Poland says if you’ve had the same symptoms around the same time, year after year, you’re probably experiencing seasonal allergies. In that case, over the counter medication and other regular health precautions will help you feel better.

Coronavirus and flu symptoms can put you out of commission.

“If you have an acute case of coronavirus or flu, you will feel so tired, so achy, you’d basically be driven to bed. Everybody would see the difference,” Poland says.Allergies may make you feel tired, but they’re not going to cause severe muscle or joint ache.”

Cold and mild flu symptoms usually resolve themselves.

With normal illnesses, you’ll start feeling better with rest and proper care within a few days (unless you are elderly or have other health conditions, in which case even mild illnesses may take longer to pass).

Coronavirus and acute flu symptoms could get worse over time.

If you have a nasty case of the flu or coronavirus, you may get worse when you expect to get better. This is a sure sign to seek medical care.

“What would increase the suspicion of coronavirus would be if you were short of breath,” Poland says. “People can also develop pneumonia from the flu, which has a similar presentation, so either way you’re going to want to seek medical attention.”

Early symptoms of allergies, cold, flu and coronavirus could be similar.

Unfortunately, Poland says, the initial stages of colds, flus and the coronavirus can be very similar, and some coronavirus and flu cases can be so mild they don’t raise any red flags. That’s why you have to pay attention to see if your symptoms persist, especially if you are in an at-risk group.

“We’re worried about older people, people with asthma or other lung diseases, people with heart disease or diabetes, and also pregnant women,” Poland says.

Coronavirus cases usually have some context.

So you think you have the coronavirus. Poland says any doctor is bound to ask you some contextual questions, like:

    • Have you traveled recently, and if so, where?
    • Have you had anybody in your home or had a workmate or schoolmate who’s traveled? Where did they go?
    • Have you had anybody in your home from areas where the outbreak is most concentrated?
    • Have you been on a cruise ship?
    • Do you live near an area where there’s an outbreak?

“You’re like a detective, trying to accept and put together pieces of data,” Poland says. “If someone who hasn’t left the middle of Kansas thinks they have the coronavirus, I would say take a Tylenol, have plenty of fluids and rest.”

It may sound harsh, but the current availability of testing, treatment and proper response to the virus doesn’t accommodate vague inclinations.

“If you’re worried, call in to your physician,” says Poland. ” Describe your symptoms and they’ll make a decision. You can’t test everybody and you can’t test anybody repeatedly.”

This is also an opportunity to do some critical thinking before you race for a diagnosis.

“You would take that next step if your suspicion increases,” Poland says. 

Just because it isn’t the coronavirus, doesn’t mean it isn’t serious.

“In the last few months, 30 million Americans have been infected with a virus,” Poland says. “About 300 to 500 thousand of them so severe they had to be hospitalized, and about 30,000 of them died. It’s the influenza virus. We are so culturally numb to ‘just the flu’ that we don’t take it seriously despite the numbers. And in contrast, the coronavirus has killed about 3,300 in roughly the same time.”

Yes, the coronavirus may have a comparatively higher death rate, but Poland also points out the more people that are infected, the more likely it is the infection will spread to others.

This means even with the statistical difference in death rates, the flu is more prevalent and far more likely to be a problem for the average person.

“When you have 30 million infected, it’s easy to infect that next 10 million,” Poland says.

The bottom line.

While taking precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is important, you may need to live with some uncertainty when it comes to the general health anxieties it inspires.

It’s up to you to stay vigilant, take into account your medical history, monitor any symptoms and think critically about whether your specific situation puts you at risk — or whether you just need a Zyrtec and some rest. (Quote source here.)

I hope this information is helpful in differentiating between coronavirus, flu, and allergy symptoms and if you are unsure, see a health care provider or clinic. And the best thing you can remember to do often and at all times is to…

Wash . . .

Your . . .

Hands . . . .

YouTube Video: “How To Tell If It’s Coronavirus, The Flu, A Cold, Or Allergies”:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Uncertain Times

The current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has thrown much of the world into a panic is unprecedented in our lifetime. In case you might not be aware (I wasn’t until I ran across the following information online), coronavirus is actually not new. In fact, it has been around since the 1960s (source: WebMD). The following information on coronavirus comes from WebMD:

A coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. Most coronaviruses aren’t dangerous.

What Is a Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses were first identified in the 1960s, but we don’t know where they come from. They get their name from their crown-like shape. Sometimes, but not often, a coronavirus can infect both animals and humans.

Most coronaviruses spread the same way other cold-causing viruses do: through infected people coughing and sneezing, by touching an infected person’s hands or face, or by touching things such as doorknobs that infected people have touched.

Almost everyone gets a coronavirus infection at least once in their life, most likely as a young child. In the United States, coronaviruses are more common in the fall and winter, but anyone can come down with a coronavirus infection at any time.

Severe coronavirus outbreaks include:

    • COVID-19In early 2020, after a December 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified a new type, 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which can be fatal. The organization named the virus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and named the disease it causes COVID-19. The outbreak quickly moved from China around the world. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
    • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS): About 858 people have died from MERS, which first appeared in Saudi Arabia and then in other countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe. In April 2014, the first American was hospitalized for MERS in Indiana and another case was reported in Florida. Both had just returned from Saudi Arabia. In May 2015, there was an outbreak of MERS in Korea, which was the largest outbreak outside of the Arabian Peninsula.
    • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome  ( SARS ): In 2003, 774 people died from an outbreak. As of 2015, there were no further reports of cases of SARS.

Common Symptoms of Coronavirus

You could get lab tests, including nose and throat cultures and blood work, to find out whether your cold was caused by a coronavirus, but there’s no reason to. The test results wouldn’t change how you treat your symptoms, which typically go away in a few days.

But if a coronavirus infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract (your windpipe and your lungs), it can cause pneumonia, especially in older people, people with heart disease, or people with weakened immune systems.

What to Do About Coronavirus

There is no vaccine for coronavirus. To help prevent a coronavirus infection, do the same things you do to avoid the common cold:

    • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Keep your hands and fingers away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are infected.

You treat a coronavirus infection the same way you treat a cold:

A humidifier or steamy shower can also help ease a sore and scratchy throat.

Even when a coronavirus causes MERS or SARS in other countries, the kind of coronavirus infection common in the U.S. isn’t a serious threat for an otherwise healthy adult. If you get sick, treat your symptoms and contact a doctor if they get worse or don’t go away.

Sign up for the latest coronavirus news.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on January 22, 2020 (Quote source here.)

When I was out shopping this past week, it was hard not to notice the empty shelves where bottled water, toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizers, and other supplies are usually found. It is obvious that the panic is palpable regarding coronavirus (COVID-19). Many cancellations and closures of schools, university classes, theme parks, concerts, and a host of other public events is taking place all across America right now (click here to see the latest list of cancellations).

I posted the information above from WebMD because I was not aware that coronavirus is not new and, in fact, it has been around since the 1960s, and to hopefully alleviate some of the intense panic feelings concerning COVID-19. That is not to say precautions should not be taken, but rather to ease the severity of panic that is in the air. The latest updates on coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention are available at this link, and the latest updates from WebMD can be found at this link.

In an article published on March 2, 2020, titled, Christians and the Coronavirus,” by Andrew Fouché, Senior Pastor at Sunset Community Church in Renton, WA (King County), he writes:

The alarm of a possible Coronavirus pandemic is increasing and in a sense we find ourselves at the epicenter in our country (the true epicenter is in Wuhan China) now with the only six deaths in America happening in Washington, five being King County. So, whether you’re stocking up on food and staying home or just treating it like any other seasonal flu, we’re all being impacted by its effects, as schools are closing, the stock market is tanking, and surgical face masks are flying off of the shelf.  The fear is real and it’s affecting us, whether we are buying into it or not. Fear also has a way of exposing what we believe and what we place our hope in. 

So, I have to ask you the question; How does your Christian faith affect how you respond to something like a possible pandemic?

How we respond to most things in life is a combination of emotional reaction (you could call it instinct) and what has been modeled for us in the past. For example, when a grease fire happens in the pan on the kitchen stove our initial reaction is to panic, but if you happened to remember your Mom calmly putting a lid on the pan you’ll know that’s far more effective than trying to douse it with water. So, as followers of Jesus, sometimes it’s helpful to look at how Christians from the past have responded to similar circumstances of tragic pandemics. 

The Cyprian plague in the third century was one of the most devastating plagues to hit the Roman world. At its height it’s believed to have killed 5,000 people a day in Rome. This wasn’t the first plague to hit the Roman empire though. The Antonine plague of the second century had been equally devastating and would impact nearly every corner of the empire. What was often noted in these plagues was the response of this still fairly new religious group known as Christians. While many Roman citizens were deserting the sick and dying, the Christians we’re tending to them and even helping with their burial.

Many historians credit the plagues as contributing to the downfall of the Roman empire and at the same time while enduring the same plagues and increasing persecution, Christianity began to spread. The pagan emperor Julian was recorded as saying: “[They] support not only their poor, but ours as well, all men see that our people lack aid from us.” For Christians their faith was causing them to act different in the face of uncontrollable tragedy and this action was rooted in their beliefs.

 We can also look at a more recent example in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. One aid worker, Stephen Rowden, volunteering with Doctors without Borders was tasked with the terrible job of collecting 10-25 Ebola stricken bodies a day in Liberia. When asked by NPR host Robert Siegel if his Christian faith was tested during this tragic assignment he said: “No. No, I got great strength from my faith and the support of my family.”

The strength that Rowden drew from his faith is based on the belief that there is something greater than this life and someone greater that has made a way to it. Jesus is our peace in this life because he promises us peace in the next one. Fear is powerless when it’s up against this kind of faith.

 As we read the headlines today it’s good to be reminded that we are part of a long line of Jesus followers who know that sickness and death doesn’t have the final word over our lives. And so, as the world is gripped by fear, we have an opportunity, like those who have gone before us, to be people of peace and compassion in the face of uncertainty. Yes, we should pray for and be wise in uncertain times but as followers of Jesus we don’t let fear determine our steps. Just as the message of Jesus spread in times of persecution and plague, you and I have an opportunity to demonstrate that same message of peace and love here in King County.

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:7 (NLT) (Quote source here.)

In an article published on March 9, 2020, titled, ‘Be of Good Courage’: Greg Laurie Encourages Congregation to Replace Fear of Coronavirus with Faith,” by Mikaela Mathews, freelance writer and editor, and contributor on ChristianHeadlines.com, she writes:

This weekend, pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California encouraged his congregation to replace fear over the coronavirus with faith.

“I think the viral fear about it may be worse than the virus itself,” Laurie said in a three-minute video posted to Instagram. “And we need to think about it for a moment. And we need to pray about it.”

He gave three “P”s to help his church located in the West Coast state with the highest rate of diagnosed patients:

1. Be Practical

After talking to several doctors, Laurie said that members should be smart about protecting themselves from the virus. Washing hands with soap and for a long time, as well as avoiding touching the face, can help people avoid the virus.

2. Be Prayerful

“We should pray for our church; pray for our nation that God would protect us. And the Lord can do that, he can put a shield around us.”

He added, “And we want to pray for anybody who has it, that they may heal.”

3. Use as Proclamation

He also shared with his congregation that the virus can be an opportunity to share the gospel. Because many communities are fearful of the virus, Christians can tell others about the hope and peace of Christ.

According to CBN News, Christian pediatric infectious disease specialist Scott James has encouraged his patients with similar advice.

“One thing that does cause me some concern is the general tendency to focus on the unknowns in a way that stokes panic and fear,” he said.

“Instead of fretting over potential catastrophes, pay attention to the opportunities that are right in front of you: take care of yourself, take care of others, and do your part to limit the spread of disease.”

As the CDC has warned Americans to prepare for the spread of the virus, James says, “Preparedness simply means we will seek to inform ourselves of the situation and to make responsible choices for our own good and for the good of our communities … [We should maintain] a biblical perspective based on the understanding that no matter what threat is on the horizon, God is still in control. Trusting in God equips us to take the threat seriously without giving into panic or despair.” (Quote source here.)

In the days and weeks ahead we need to allow our faith to replace of our fears, and compassion to replace our panic, because, as 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) reminds us, God has not given us a spirit of fear…

But of power . . .

And of love . . .

And of a sound mind . . . .

YouTube Video: “Faith to Believe” by Shane and Shane:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here