The words barrel into us with a paralyzing thud: corona virus, national emergency, airports, schools, churches closed, store shelves empty, hospital beds at a premium. How does a follower of Jesus live well in the midst of the crisis? We have memorized and quoted scripture’s “fear nots,” but in the dark hours of the night or when mesmerized by media, we realized that the words have not walked the journey from head to heart.
We in the Western world are now living the reality that our brothers and sisters around the globe face daily: distress, deprivation, denial. We, like they, are called to live sacrificially so others can heal, prosper, and find peace with God.
Walter Brueggemann* writes about Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus: Jesus says to him: “You’ve got to start over! …You’ve got to become as vulnerable and innocent and dependent as a little child. You’ve got to forego your social position, your achievements, your wealth, your reputation. You’ve got to let go of all the things that make you self-sufficient and that alienate you from the wonder of the gift of God. Start over in vulnerability, in innocence, and in dependence…
During these days when panic threatens, Brueggemann’s words take on special meaning. Perhaps every time we wash our hands—as prescribed!—we acknowledge that before God we are vulnerable and dependent. Truly, our help comes from the Lord and, in that truth, we dwell in peace and reach out to our fearful neighbors.
Eusebius, a bishop and historian of the early church wrote about Christians during the deadly plague: All day long some of them [the Christians] tended to the dying and to their burial, countless numbers with no one to care for them. Others gathered together from all parts of the city a multitude of those withered from famine and distributed bread to them all.
May it be true of us.
*A Way Other Than Our Own