“This is getting crazy,” my husband said to me one night while we sat at the dinner table.
“Stop talking to me about the virus. You’re driving me nuts. All of our conversations don’t need to be about it,” I retorted.
This was a few weeks ago before the virus started showing up around where we live. I was completely ignorant about how this disease was sweeping the world.
I have one news app on my phone. The only reason I use it is to check the weather. I had all breaking notifications turned off because I didn’t need to be reminded 20 thousand times a day about the awful things in our world, like shootings, tragic car crashes, and ridiculous politics.
And then I went to Walmart to buy toilet paper.
I was completely blown away by the empty shelves for all the paper goods. I noticed people shopping in a frenzy all around me. It was like Black Friday but for food and toilet paper. When I got home, I turned on the news notifications on my phone. I spent some time learning about the spread of the virus. I quit playing ignorant.
It’s been a couple of weeks since I turned on my news notifications, and I’ve been the most stressed out these past weeks than I’ve been in a long time.
Not so much because of the content (don’t get me wrong, it’s all incredibly sobering and overwhelms my heart), but because I developed a new habit this past week that I laid to rest some time ago: Picking up my phone every time it dinged.
Not only did I find myself reaching for my phone more frequently during the day, but I also found myself reaching for it first thing in the morning. I wanted to read all the breaking news and stay up-to-date.
A revival of an old habit slowly replaced a new habit I had in place upon waking: reading my Bible first thing.
When 2020 rolled in, I made it a habit to read the Bible every day. I found the best and easiest way for me to do this was to get over my annoyance of reading it on my phone. As soon as I woke up, I read from a Bible app. I kept my screen downtime during a certain window so when I looked at my phone screen early in the morning, the only app that was “awake” was my Bible app. This kept me from checking emails first thing in the morning and going down the rabbit hole that is social media.
But when I let coronavirus news overtake my phone, all bets were off. I fed my fear and desire of wanting to know the latest. After scouring my phone for the latest news, checking emails, and doing a quick check on Facebook, I’d get up to start my day. No Bible. No, “Hello Jesus.” Nothing.
To be honest, I went a week before I even realized I had not touched my Bible app.
A whole week.
No wonder during a time of crisis life felt incredibly overwhelming and stressful.
Some people think believing in God and having faith is like going through life with a crutch, like trusting that God will work everything out is an easy choice. I don’t know about you, but trusting God and having faith doesn’t always come easily to me. I like to take control of my life (like stocking up unnecessarily on food and toilet paper) during a time of crisis. My default isn’t always to trust God, but to figure out how I can fix a broken situation on my own. I’ve got this, I tell myself. But I’m learning this human tendency to fight for control is really an invitation from the Lord.
Trusting God during a time of crisis isn’t a crutch; it’s kneeling before the Savior of the world and believing He heals the brokenness so we can walk confidently in who he is.
Yet we can easily forget this truth when we immerse ourselves in breaking news and information.
With schools being canceled, businesses closing and social distancing, we’re creating new rhythms in our homes. Some families might decide to be more intentional with their children’s education. Some families are relying heavily on family and friends for childcare. Many workers are still showing up and serving their community so we can have healthcare and groceries. New habits are emerging in how we go about our day.
As we navigate this time with new rhythms, pay attention to what you let into your heart.
The Bible encourages us to guard our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (NIV). Guard your heart as you seek to help others and take positive action to slow down the spread of coronavirus.
Reaching for your phone to stay connected to the outside world may feel comforting, like you’re in control in some way, but be careful with how your heart responds to the information you’re feeding it.
When you feel fearful about the uncertainty of the future, turn to the constant faithfulness of our God.
When you feel sorrowful about all the deaths and sickness, turn to the power of prayer and discernment in how you help those around you.
When you feel panicky about possibly spending so much time at home, look for new rhythms the Lord may have for you so you can abide in him more.
By all means, stay active in helping your community. Don’t stick your head in the sand about the realities of what’s going on. Just know that trusting the Lord and believing in who he is may be the greatest thing your soul needs right now, instead of devouring news media. Your faith just may positively affect those around you too.