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Coronavirus… It is the giant elephant-virus in the room that everyone is talking about… so let’s talk about it from a Mama Bear perspective.
I sometimes jokingly refer to myself as a “Debbie downer” because my first instinct isn’t to make people feel better about a situation, it’s to help them think biblically about it. And the biblical teachings are not always the message we want to hear. But they are always the message we need to hear. Biblical teachings are not always the message we WANT to hear, but they are always the message we NEED to hear. #apologetics #mamabear #ROARLikeAMother Click To Tweet
We are called to place our trust in Christ above all else. Those of us in the U.S. live in a relatively safe and secure country in comparison to other countries. So much so, that I think we have confused it for the norm! But our culture is not the norm. This idea that we as Christians are promised safety and health, and or that we can pray away all trials and tribulations… friends that just isn’t true. It sounds nice. I wish it were true. But it is not. If we are basing our theology on something that wasn’t true for first-century martyrs and our current third-world impoverished nations, then we are not teaching truth. Period. By far the majority of experiences in this world revolve around suffering, sickness, persecution, poverty, and yes, even death. Now, we don’t need to necessarily always lead our Bible studies talking about that. There’s no point emphasizing these things if our end result isn’t immediately pointing to the sufficiency of Christ. Similarly, there are ways that we can approach this whole Coronavirus thing in truth, yet not without hope.
So here are a few helpful tips as you go about your day:
1) Praise God for the opportunity to learn trust!
These weird, weird, times we are in right now are opportunity-rich for teaching our kids what real faith and trust are about. I’m talking about the kind of faith and trust that the persecuted church in China experiences every single day. Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to share in their sufferings and for giving us this opportunity to dismantle our idols of “safety and security.” Because friends, those are massive idols right now in the church. Even more than idols, they are expectations. We think that with enough prayer and faith, we will be able to escape trials and tribulations. But if our faith is in the temporal security of this world, then we have completely missed the point of the cross. The cross guarantees us eternal safety, security, and health. The faith of the Christians in third-world and persecuted nations far exceeds our own because they don’t have the luxury of this “theology of safety.” And friends, this is worth repeating: as I said above, if a theology is not true for the persecuted church (or for first-century Christian martyrs), then it’s not true. Period. We have preached “trust in the Lord” to our kids for a long time. Thank you, God, for giving us the opportunity to model it during hard times.If we are basing our theology on something that wasn’t true for first-century martyrs and our current third-world impoverished nations, then we are not teaching truth. Period. #Truth #soundtheology #apologetics Click To Tweet
2) Emphasize to our kids the real meaning of Philippians 4:13.
This is one of those verses that has been used and abused in Western culture. Almost every time I hear it used, someone is referring to what they can accomplish through Christ, as in… well… accomplishments. (I’m embarrassed to say that as a cheerleader, we used to cite this verse before we did a difficult stunt. Talk about missing the point!) So let’s look at the real meaning of this verse via context. And to do that, we have to read the red-headed stepchild verses right before it. (you know… the ones that NOBODY quotes…)
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
When Paul said that he could do 'all things through Christ,' he meant that he could SUFFER all things because he had Christ. God's goodness is not contingent upon our safety. #betterexegesis #allthingsthroughchrist #coronavirus Click To TweetSo what does Paul mean that he can do all things through Christ? Is he talking about placing first in all competitions? Succeeding in all things he tries? Performing all miracles? Winning friends and influencing all people? No. He means that, through Christ, he can suffer all things. He can be in plenty or in want. He can be well-fed or going hungry. Talk about this verse with your kids. Ask them about some of the things that have been easy for them and some things that have been hard. Bring it back to how they can get through anything as long as they have Christ. And then we can take it to current events. We can come down with the Coronavirus, or we can stay healthy. Either way, we can do all things through Christ! We cannot tell our children that suffering is something to be feared. It is to be expected, and we can endure all things through Christ. #Phil4:13 #betterexegesis Click To Tweet
3) Be clear with our kids about where our hope lies.
Piggy-backing on the previous point, we should reinforce with our children where our faith, hope, and trust lie – in Christ. Our hope and faith lie in Christ crucified, paying the penalty for our sins so that we have the promise of eternal life in relationship with God. The rest of this life here on earth is us learning how to be a people of God, and that is often a painful process.
Our hope is not in this world.
Our hope is not in our healthy bodies.
Our hope is not in a painless existence.
Our hope is not in a life void of trial and tribulation.
None of these are wrong to hope for. We just cannot place our hope in these things. We all “hope” for healthy, painless lives without trial and tribulation. You’re kinda weird if you revel in those things. But when we have made it sound like God will always protect us from uncomfortable and even painful things in life, then we are not worshipping the God of the Bible. Sooner or later, your kids will experience pain, suffering, or sickness. If they thought that God’s job was to protect them from these things, then it should be no surprise when they decide that He is not real and walk away from the faith. We need to be giving them a biblical view of God and what to expect in life. What better opportunity than now, when it feels like the whole world is living in fear? Health and safety are not bad things to hope FOR, we just cannot place our hope IN these things. Our hope is in Christ and Him crucified, reconciling us to God and guaranteeing for us an eternal future of health and security! Click To Tweet
4) Be wise and loving (and not reactive) with “social distancing.”
Social distancing is the phrase de jour. It means keeping a healthy physical distance between yourself and other people to prevent the potential spread of illness. This is especially important right now since most people who have the Coronavirus do not exhibit symptoms until days or sometimes weeks later. So how are we, as believers, to think about this concept of “social distancing”?
There is a difference between acting in wisdom versus acting in fear. As a biologist, I can assure you that overpopulation (and people in close proximity) is basically the way that all widespread plagues start. Even in the animal kingdom, you’ll see some mite or virus or bacteria take over an animal population if they get too abundant. It is nature’s way of preventing overpopulation. The way things spread is by too many people in close proximity. So, if we want to prevent this virus from spreading, then physical distance is our friend. Not congregating in huge groups is probably wise.
It’s not that we’re afraid that this is the bubonic plague and about to wipe out two-thirds of the world’s population. It is just our way of being kind and loving our healthcare professionals who have a finite amount of time and resources. Too many people sick at the same time means that there are not enough resources to respond. Again: it’s not the plague, and it’s not the end of the world. We are just trying to prevent an over surge of demand on our medical resources when we have a limited supply. It’s as simple as that. Social distancing doesn't mean that we are living in fear of a worldwide plague. It's just our way of loving our medical professionals by helping curtail the spread of the virus and not overtaxing our medical system. #love #wisdom Click To Tweet
5) Remain in community and continue to serve.
So while a healthy social distancing is our way of loving our healthcare providers by trying to make their jobs easier, we must address the other end of the spectrum with “How are we to remain in Christian community while loving and obeying our healthcare professionals?”
We need to realize when we are acting in fear instead of love. When the fear of the virus gets in the way of loving our neighbor, then we have gone too far. So what are a few simple things you can do with your kids to maintain community during this time?
Anyone who knows me knows that I love Facetime. I would prefer speaking face-to-face over voice-alone any day of the week. Even without makeup. Even if I have some huge zit. I don’t care. I love face-to-face interaction. If you have means of connecting with loved ones via video chat, DO IT! Facebook has a video function, there’s Skype, Google hangouts, you name it! Just because we have to keep a physical distance does not mean we have to keep an emotional distance.
Serve those who are sick, but wisely.
Congratulations: most parents have, overnight, become homeschooling parents. Your kids may have extra Spring Break, or maybe their school has just flat-out shut down. What do you do with them all day? Show them how to serve! You don’t need to go wait hand-and-foot on someone who has the flu and then go home to your family of five. But you can cook a meal and then leave it on their doorstep. You can offer to go pick up medications. You can mention on your social media that if anyone needs help picking stuff up from the store or pharmacy, then you are more than willing to get it and leave it for them on the doorstep. Take your kids with you. Let them participate with you as you use this opportunity to serve rather than hunker down and horde. (All you people with 137 rolls of toilet paper, you know who you are! My husband loudly proclaimed them all fools in the checkout line and announced that he was stocking up the essentials: bacon and cheesecake. I love John Ferrer.) Congratulations! You have all become homeschooling parents overnight! So what are some ways to use this #coronavirus thing to disciple your children? #apologetics Click To Tweet
At the end of the day, Mama Bears, this too shall pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it shall pass. In the meantime, may we always be looking for ways to disciple our kids, even in the storm. Be wise and be loving, Mama Bears. Our children are watching how we respond to this crisis. Remember that our actions will tell them more than our words. If you feel yourself succumbing to fear, pray through it. Pray through it with your kids even! Show them what it looks like to struggle with fear, and ultimately trust in God. This is such an amazing opportunity to show our kids what true faith in the midst of fear looks like. These opportunities don’t come around too often, so milk it for all it’s worth, to the glory of God. Showing our kids how to react biblically in a time when many are succumbing to fear shows them that our God is bigger than whatever sufferings this world may throw at us. #GodHasNotGivenUsASpiritOfFear Click To Tweet
Hillary Morgan Ferrer is the founder of Mama Bear Apologetics. She is coauthor and editor of the Mama Bear Apologetics book, and has been married to her husband, Dr. John D. Ferrer, for over 12 years. She is working on her second master’s degree, and yet can’t seem to figure out the simplest cooking recipes.