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Fear and Anxiety in the Time of Coronavirus

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As I write this note on March 17, 2020, the world around us seems to be devolving into chaos. Schools are closing for the next three weeks and parents are tasked with conducting lessons at home. Parents, in turn, are scrambling to figure out how to continue to bring in income, find care for their children, serve as school teachers and stem the panic in their own homes… and there is no toilet paper or Lysol left on the store shelves.

Fear is coursing across the globe as the coronavirus pandemic shuts down countries and people flood hospitals. Horror stories of overbooked rooms and stretched-too-thin doctors with no answers flood my news and social media feeds. Even within my own family, the slightest fevers have us worried, and the doctor’s offices don’t yet have the supplies to test for coronavirus, so we have developed an in-home isolation strategy until fevers break.

Masses have been suspended across the state of Ohio. Gatherings of more than 50 people shouldn’t take place. And, I admit, my imagination – full of the stories of dystopian novels that I so love – begins to veer on the edge of panic and fear.

But I have young children, and they are counting on me to be their rock and foundation amidst the fear and chaos – their trusted guide to tell them what’s true, what’s false and that “it’s going to be OK.” It is up to my husband and me to be their voices of reason, their sources of comfort while their lives are in confused upheaval.

Where do we draw from to maintain the confidence, that strength, that sense of calm?

Part of me believes it comes from some instinct instilled in parents, but I know that I can’t draw on my own strength indefinitely. It has to come from a higher source.

Jesus tells us in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”

And in 1 Peter 5: 6-7, scripture says: “So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.”

Casting your worries upon God – easier said than done? Of course. Especially in the face of global pandemic.

But think about it: We do everything we can to physically arm ourselves against illness: self-quarantining, washing hands, sanitizing the house, even homeschooling. Why wouldn’t we do everything in our power to arm ourselves spiritually against the plagues of fear and anxiety?

Over and over, the Bible reiterates that we should not be afraid; we should place our trust in the Lord. When my thoughts start moving towards that deep rabbit hole of fear about things I have little control over, I do my best to steer them back to God. Sometimes that means repeating prayers (St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!); sometimes it means quietly sharing my fears with God; sometimes it means sitting around the dinner table with my family and sharing the joys of the day; and sometimes it means intentional night time prayer with my children, asking God to heal the sick and take away our anxiety.

In continual prayer and conversation with God, we develop a strength beyond our ability to create and sustain on our own. We are then able to model that confidence and faith to those we love, those who trust us. And together, we can confidently pray for ourselves, the sick, and others struggling with fear and anxiety.

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