By Kate Ritchie
Our kids are aware that life is different right now. They have caught wind of news reports and conversations about the coronavirus. My boys have seen my pensive face as I’ve had hushed conversations with my husband about CDC recommendations and presidential press conferences. They’ve noticed empty shelves in grocery stores. We are in unprecedented times and uncharted territory. Our kids are aware. We have had age-appropriate conversations about what this means for our family, school, travel, and sports. But what does this mean for us as a family? What should our family’s response be to the Coronavirus Pandemic happening in our world?
I’d offer you these suggestions:
1. Christian families should respond with wisdom.
My children asked hard questions today about how this virus will affect our lives. I had to tell my sons, “The truth is, I don’t know. I have never had to face something like this in my lifetime.” That is true for most people alive in the world today, but Christians have hope in the midst of uncertainty. Jesus Christ has seen things like the coronavirus come and go over the course of history.
Proverbs is a book all about the wisdom of God. Over and over again, the theme of Proverbs is that wisdom is gained through listening and having a humble reverence before God. Having wisdom in this time means spending time listening and reading God’s Word and filling your heart with truth. It means listening to the wisdom of experts who are knowledgeable about this topic. It means your family’s response to the pandemic should be motivated from a place of wisdom, rather than a place of panic. The world and your children are watching your response, may they see you lean into God in this time.
“…but whoever listens to me (wisdom) will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster” (Proverbs 1:33).
May your security, peace, and lack of dread come from God alone.
Practical responses of wisdom:
- Read God’s Word daily.
- Pray and ask God for wisdom.
- Listen to facts and consult experts.
2. Christian families should respond with faith.
Jesus Christ knows the course of history, and he also knows the trajectory of the future. As Christians, we know that our future in Christ is where he makes all things new. A future where there is no more tears, sickness, or death. This is a hope and a good future. Because Christians know the end of the story, we have great faith to walk through the trials and hardships of our journey to the end.
The opposite of responding in faith is living in fear. Fear is all around us. Caution is actually good, calm, and wise. Fear, on the other hand, is playing out the worst reality in your mind and living it out minute by minute, over and over. It begins to feel true, and be the “why” for all your decisions. Christians are called to faith in Jesus. Why? Because we serve a God who actually had the very worst done to him, including death, to save us from eternal death. Jesus allowed the very worst thing to be done to him so that you would have the glorious hope of an eternal future.
“Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8).
May your family walk through hard times, having great faith that God is with you and that He will make all things new in the end.
Practical responses of faith:
- Ask the Holy Spirit for more faith.
- Consider what motivates your decisions. Is it caution and wisdom? Or is it fear?
- Remind yourself and family of the end of the story for those who are in Christ!
3. Christian families should respond with generosity.
“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered” (Proverbs 11:24-25).
The one in this verse who withholds what he should give does not withhold because he cannot spare to give what he has. He has plenty. He withholds because he cannot give away something that he trusts in. The Bible calls the things we put our trust in an “idol.” An idol is the thing we hope, trust, and love the most. Times like these have a way of revealing our idols.
In this day of toilet paper shortage and empty grocery stores, God is calling Christian families to be generous. Be wise and prepared, but at the end of the day, do not have your hope, trust, and love in money, safety, things, and self. These things will only make you “suffer want.” Those families who have their hope, trust, and love in Christ Jesus alone, will have the amazing opportunity to experience the life that comes from him alone! He is living water that will never run dry!
May we seek to give freely to those around us as we set Jesus up as the only One worthy of our worship.
Practical responses of generosity:
- Do not neglect worshipping Jesus with your church. Meet your church online and worship Jesus as a family with all your heart.
- Give generously to your church. Your church will be reaching people online who would never come to a church building. They are also helping families who are sick or under financial strain more than ever.
- Share resources, time, and energy with those who are in need. Love your neighbors generously.
4. Christian families should respond in love.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13).
What does it really mean during this time in history to lay down your life in love for your neighbor? Love is seeking the greatest good for other people. For some of you who work in the medical field, this might mean personal risk. For others, “laying down your life,” might look like changing your life to protect others. It might look like canceling travel plans to keep your community safer. Loving someone like Jesus loved you might mean you stay home for a while to help decrease the spread of the virus. It might mean extending help to people who are financially hurting, calling a friend who might be lonely, or writing a note to an elderly neighbor. It might mean meaningful investment and discipleship in your children while they are home from school for a season.
All of the changes that our government is recommending for families will create opportunities for you to have conversations in your home. When those conversations arise, call your family to the higher calling of love, modeled Jesus Christ, who laid down his life for the good of us. We sacrifice for those around us because Jesus Christ paid the greatest sacrifice to give us life. May we be like Jesus!
May we reflect the love of Jesus Christ through our families to a watching world.
Practical responses of love:
- Evaluate how you can seek the good of other people and prefer them above your own preferences.
- Evaluate how you can protect the vulnerable people in your community.
- Have conversations with your family about how your sacrifices for others are a reflection of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
- If you have an opportunity to tell someone what motivates your family’s decisions, tell them about Jesus!