A few weeks ago, the coronavirus seemed like someone else’s problem. When the news first broke, I’ll be honest and say I dismissed it because it wasn’t something that directly affected me. It was a problem in far-away China so I didn’t lose sleep over it.
Fast forward a few weeks and the virus has found its way to all of us. It quickly went from an outbreak “out there” to the threat on your doorstep. All of a sudden, we’ve been forced to pay attention.
Now if you don’t know what I’m talking about, 1. I’m worried for you and 2. Ignorance isn’t bliss! Everywhere you look, everyone has something to say about what’s going on in the world right now. There is so much guidance, opinion, speculation and misinformation going around and as you well know, many people are now in full scale panic.
As we attempt to get to grips with the state of the world right now, the implications of this outbreak and what it means for daily life in the weeks and months ahead, I’d like to offer up a few thoughts I’ve had over the weekend. A few things the coronavirus has already taught me.
We are more connected than we think
Over the past few days, I have chatted with friends and family in Lusaka, London, Colombo, Philadelphia and Barbados. The coronavirus has dominated most of these conversations.
A friend sent me an infographic that tracks the number of reported cases, deaths and recoveries from coronavirus as it stands in ‘real’ time. As I looked over it, I was struck by how connected we all are in this moment. The coronavirus has reached as far as Brunei, Singapore, the Maldives, Kuwait, South Africa, Algeria, Luxembourg, Belgium, Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago, Canada, USA – and we know the list goes on.
No doubt, the same concerns you and I have about the virus are being felt across the globe right now. We may feel disconnected a lot of the time but our humanity connects us. We breathe, we love, we hope, we serve, and at this present moment, many of us feel fear.
We already know that the virus knows no gender, colour, social status or title. Any one of us could be at risk. In this sense, it is a leveller. It reminds us that we are all simply human and in such unprecedented times, treating our fellow humans with kindness will go a long way.
We’ve all watched as panic has set in; our survival instincts kick in as we look to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Once again, it is easy to think of ourselves in such times but it’s good to remember that there are people who will be feeling way more vulnerable than you and I right now.
A little consideration goes a long way.
Plans are just.. plans
Just a few weeks ago, I booked a summer break to Italy. As soon as the trip was confirmed and paid for, the coronavirus hit Italy in an unexpected way. Our plans are just that – plans. The reality is, we are not in as much control as we like to think we are.
We say what we will do today, tomorrow and next week, but in times like this we are reminded that nothing is guaranteed. Many of us are having to cancel or rethink our plans and adjust the way we work, so much that our daily life is starting to look different.
It is sobering to think that my plans really are not in my hands. No matter how experienced or powerful we feel, all of our plans are in God’s hands. He is in control of what actually happens and we would do well to submit our plans to him.
We all have a choice
This is a tough one.
All around us right now, the world is telling us to be afraid. Whether you turn on the TV, listen to the radio, have conversations in the office or at the grocery store, we are all very aware that something heavy is happening. Something even the most educated and powerful among us don’t know how to handle.
The point is, we can live in fear or we can choose faith. We all have a choice on what our attitude will be. I have heard it said this way:
“If you can worry, you can have faith.”
It is down to what you focus on which in times of crisis and mass hysteria, can be really difficult.
We live in a time where we receive instant communication, WhatsApp updates and breaking news on the go. However, if current circumstances are filling you with anxiety, it’s okay to turn off your notifications for a while. Of course we need to stay informed, but it might take a conscious effort to maintain hope in these circumstances.
Yes, we may not know all the facts and we may indeed have cause for panic, but if we focus on speculation alone, we open ourselves up to constant fear.
My advice, if you’ll take it: Choose to believe the best instead of the worst. Take the relevant precautions within your control but also fill your thoughts with hope instead of despair. Anchor yourself to faith and victory instead of worrying over things none of us can control. We as humanity have been through many trials and we have come out stronger on the other side.
We should keep healthy – and not only during a pandemic!
Isn’t it crazy that we are all suddenly looking after our health like our lives depended on it? Well, our lives do depend on it, even when we’re not living through a pandemic! (I’m challenging myself too here because I don’t always look after my health consistently).
The advice going round is to maintain good hygiene, wash your hands regularly, eat lots of fruit and vegetables, get good sleep and supplement your immunity with the right vitamins if needed. Shops have been selling out of hand sanitizers and supplements, yet these practices shouldn’t only become important because of an outbreak, they should be a part of our daily routine.
There is always a silver lining… sometimes you’ve got to look hard for it.
In the midst of what feels like panic, we can maintain a healthy perspective. The world has been through wars and rumours of wars. Pandemics have come and gone. And while this is our present reality, it too shall pass. Yes, the reality is that this is a serious outbreak – I’m not trying to minimise that in any way. Many people are suffering with the virus as we speak, and many more have already lost loved ones. We can’t gloss over that fact.
However, many of us are likely to spend more time at home in the foreseeable future. Think of this as an opportunity to slow down and spend quality time with those around you.
We may be “social distancing” at the moment but technology connects us in ways that previously weren’t possible. We can take advantage of that. We are a society that is always on the go – maybe this is a time to rest, check on family and friends, and reflect on what’s most important.
We can be kind to the people we meet and be generous with our words and actions, especially to those most vulnerable among us. And remember, nothing is ever out of God’s hands. He isn’t sitting in heaven scratching his head right now because he didn’t see this coming.
Nothing happens that didn’t pass through his approval first. That means whatever happens, he already knows and he is leaps and bounds ahead of us.
Don’t panic, stay safe – we will be okay.