Panic vs compassion
It feels difficult to write on anything at this time but COVID-19. With that being said, I am aware that there is already so much out there on this subject, whether that is news, updates from churches and companies, motivation and encouragement, or tips on hygiene and health.
I don’t want to add to the overwhelm and panic with my words so I proceed with care.
Like a lot of crises and disasters, they teach us about human nature or how humans respond to the unknown. Amidst the panic, the pain and the heartache, often great stories of teamwork and compassion arise. COVID-19 is no different.
The other day I saw a video of a fitness trainer in Barcelona running a workout from the rooftop of a building. People in surrounding taller apartment blocks stepped out onto their balconies to join in a community but social distancing-approved workout.
I also heard on the news today that in parts of Italy, every day at 8pm residents have been loudly clapping and praising in a tribute to their medical staff who are working tirelessly to look after those infected with the virus.
It is these glimpses into the love and kindness that humans can often show each other in these difficult times which offer glimmers of relief, hope and light.
Running out of toilet paper
However, if you have been following what has been going on in supermarkets you’ll probably be aware that people have been stocking on a number of essential items, most notably toilet paper, for some reason.
I grew up watching the ‘Get Ready Get Thru’ ads shown on New Zealand television. The ad campaign encouraged New Zealanders to get themselves prepared for any kind of disaster with an emergency kit, stocked with non-perishable food and first aid among other things.
So presumably, any responsible citizen ought to already have the requisite preparations in the event of disaster or any other reason you can’t leave your house.
But as the news reports and Facebook videos of supermarkets show, we aren’t prepared and, at the threat of crisis, we rush to the supermarket and panic buy the stores out of toilet paper, as well as bread, meat, pasta, salt (yes I’ve seen that), cans, hand sanitiser and soap.
Following this, I’ve seen heart-breaking photos overseas of elderly people unable to fulfil their weekly shop because of this. And it speaks volumes of human nature.
We see a threat looming and we need to feel prepared. That’s normal. But instead of being reasonable, logical, or perhaps putting our trust in our Heavenly Father to get us through, people rush towards a ‘quick fix’.
People stock up and buy masks and hand sanitiser. (Official advice informs us that masks don’t really help with COVID-19 and like your mum probably taught you, hand washing with soap and water is the most effective hygiene practice.)
Quick fixes and God
Humans seem to be increasingly obsessed with quick fixes and instant gratification. But it doesn’t work, as least for long time satisfaction. And it doesn’t line up with the bible either.
I’ve written before about Martha and Mary, and how we can see from their story that it is so important that we stop and spend time with Jesus, listening, being in his presence.
But something that might be more noticeable in the Word, through it’s repetition, is that we ought to wait for God.
As I was thinking about people’s tendency for quick fixes and the daily examples of this at present, Psalm chapter 27, verse 14 came to mind: Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
This phrase is used in Psalms but also demonstrated more through countless stories where God makes a promise with a person and makes good on that promise in His own time.
If there is one thing I am learning more and more, it is the power of time spent with Jesus, quiet time, reading the bible, praying and resting. And in addition, God may ask us to exercise some patience so that His will may be done.
So let’s be encouraged to see these present, uncertain times as an opportunity to show compassion, teamwork and patience. How can we use the time we might gain from staying home to slow down, rest, and wait for God. Instead of rushing out to stock up on toilet paper and baked beans, let us put our trust in Jesus to give us ever-lasting peace of mind to get us through.
Rebecca Hoverd studies law and geography at The University of Auckland and loves writing as a way to communicate with God and to unpack her thoughts. She loves coffee, conversations, and would love to hear your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.