Conversations in the Age of Coronavirus
Friday the 13th. March 13th, 2020 to be exact.
So many things changed in America today: Schools and businesses and large gatherings closed, temporarily, in response to the Coronavirus.
Toilet paper, paper towels, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer and disinfectant flew off the shelves of grocery stores. Today, the meat section of a local store was virtually empty. There were reports of people fighting, literally fighting, in large chain stores across America as people sought to stockpile items they perceived they would need.
There are two extremes at play: one is the view that all of this is some giant, political hoax. The other, that this is the end of the world. Neither are accurate, but during times of uncertainty and stress, people panic and act irrationally.
As followers of Christ, this could be our finest hour. This could be the time that we show our fellow Americans the beauty of Christ and the Gospel. It could be a moment in which we represent our King well and in doing that, see people come to faith in Christ as they seek answers and seek Hope.
I had several conversations today with individuals (not from our church), that struck me. In these conversations, I was reminded of the just how important this time is for us as followers of Christ.
When I was walking one of my dogs, Duke, this morning, I had two interesting conversations.
One was with a man. He was doing lawn work and had two surgical masks on and as soon as we walked near him, he took off the masks and smiled and quickly blurted out: 'I'm not crazy! I'm not one of those Coronavirus nuts! I have bad allergies. I have to wear this or I get sick!'
I told him as an asthmatic, I understood. This is a bad time for allergies.
He smiled and waved and said, 'thank you!' and went back to work.
He just wanted me to know he wasn't crazy.
Further down the street, about two blocks away, I encountered a woman I've never seen. She was elderly and was sitting in an old Ford truck. She rolled down her window and motioned for me to come over.
'Yes, ma'am?' I said.
'You be careful,' she said calmly.
'I will!' I smiled. I thought she was talking about watching out for cars or something.
'No, I mean...you are young (thank you ma'am!). I'm old. I've lived my life. You wash your hands and you be careful. God is with you. He is watching over you.'
I was a bit perplexed by this woman I have never met. I walked closer to her truck.
'Yes ma'am. I will. God bless you too.'
She replied: 'He is with you. God is with you. Remember that.'
I said, 'The Lord be with you as well, ma'am,' and walked on.
There were more conversations throughout the day. The woman who cut my hair was concerned about how slow the day was. 'If this keeps up, it will be tough on the family.'
The custodian at the gym who had spent three hours early in the morning deep cleaning and scrubbing everything was exhausted. He still had more to do. He said 'I think this is an overreaction. I can't do this every day. No one is here anyway (and few people were there).
The manager at the local grocery store who said, 'yeah...it's been a weird day,' as he wiped sweat off his brow and shook his forehead. 'There's some 'crazies' out there.'
The young woman at the store who just wanted to go home because things were so intense during her shift.
The store manager who said he had an employee call in saying he didn't want to go to work because he was scared. The manager wondered what this would mean for business, for his future, his family.
The person who asked 'do you think it might be helpful if I volunteered to go shopping for shut in senior adults?'
People have questions.
Some people want to bless. Others want to withdraw.
People are looking for hope. What we do and what we say to others matters.
I pray we are faithful with this opportunity. I call it opportunity because this is an opportunity for us to grow in our sanctification as believers, to share the gospel as ambassadors, to show the world the Hope we have in Christ.
Our words matter. Our actions matter. No one or two or ten persons can 'do it all,' but all of us, praying, staying in the Word, shining, serving, can be used by God for His glory and the blessing of many.
Or, we can hide our light under a bushel.
I go back to the woman in the truck. That was a disarming conversation. It seemed as if she was 'sent' to speak to me. She made sure I understood what she was saying. I left that conversation with a sense of being blessed and thankful.
I pray all you engage this week and in the weeks ahead will be blessed for having interacted with you. I pray this for me as well.
Grace to You,