At a certain point, news is bad for you.
Imagine there’s a meteor headed for Earth. The media reports that the meteor has a decent chance of hitting our planet. But scientists are diligently working on some sort of Deep Impact/Armageddon-esque countermove. It’ll be a hard deadline to meet, but there’s an excellent chance that they’ll be ready, given enough time and funding, to deflect or mitigate the effects of this meteor.
Now, as the scientists get to work, of course the media continues relentlessly covering these incredible events. How big is the space rock? How likely is it to hit us? Even if it’s a near miss, could it have other effects on our planet?
Some experts (both credentialed and “self-taught”) look at the data and predict that the meteor will surely, definitively, with 100% certainty hit the Earth and destroy most life on the planet. Others say we have nothing to worry about, even if the meteor does hit, and it’ll probably miss anyway.
Then these experts and many others, armed with their varying predictions and qualifications, yell about them incessantly wherever they can: TV, websites, social media, radio, street-corners, you name it.
With such wide-ranging speculation rampant and no way to differentiate, the public cannot process all this information. And all they know for sure is that the meteor is speeding ever closer.
Of course they’re going to fear the worst. And this fear will hurt them, and won’t make one bit of difference to the incoming asteroid.
A similar situation is playing out right now with COVID-19. So little is known about this virus: how fast it spreads, how best it spreads, what can treat it, what can stop it, the severity of the symptoms if you catch it. This has led to a wide variance in speculation and position-staking, as each new closure and caution leads to more and more dire doomsaying.
And the only constant message we the people hear is:
This disease is here. Thousands have it. Anyone can get it. It sucks to have it. And it absolutely can kill you.
Tell someone that over and over, incessantly, for weeks. Then tell them that because of this disease, we have to shut down nearly the entire economy.
Then tell them not to panic.
Look, we all know what we can do not to catch COVID-19.
- Wash your hands.
- Don’t touch your face.
- Stay six feet away from everyone.
- Avoid social gatherings.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- Don’t leave the house if you’re sick.
And, besides the usual healthy lifestyle tips of balanced diet/daily exercise/seven hours of sleep, that’s about it.
The reason we’re so panicked is because we cannot control everything about this disease. We cannot cure it yet. We cannot proactively treat it yet. And we cannot completely prevent anyone from getting it yet. And we are constantly reminded of those facts from every conceivable angle.
This is enough to make anyone terrified.
But I have some more news for you, news that will help you immeasurably if you accept it.
You are going to die.
At some point, you will stop living on this earth. Your body will cease to function. And something will cause that, be it age or bullets or coronavirus. Although given the stats, it probably won’t be the latter.
As Christians, we do not need to worry because we know death is not the end. And so we can live with confidence in strange times like these, when everyone panics.
That’s not an invitation to lack shrewdness. It is an invitation to let go of your fear and trust God’s guiding hand. From dust you are, and to dust you shall return, and the timing on that is entirely out of your hands.
It does not help to be constantly reminded of the figurative meteor that is COVID-19. So maybe turn off the news, get off of social media, and take a walk with your family or your dog or both or neither. To the miasma of echoing voices in mainstream and social media say yes, the disease is here. We know. We will be smart.
But we will not fear.