It’s Monday morning. We have an international pandemic on our hands, and I don’t know what to do.
As an individual, husband, dad, pastor, and friend, I feel like many want me to provide answers. Some I have, but others I don’t.
I’m an extremely optimistic pastor. I have faith in God. I know he can do the impossible. I’m also one of the people that lives as if the glass is half full. So when this COVID-19 news began, I thought it was another case of the media sensationalizing the virus into something it was not.
As the days progress, I know it is more serious than originally many suspected, yet I also know our constant exposure to the information on digital and social media greatly heightens the panic. Regardless of what I feel about this situation, others feel very differently, and you cannot argue with someone’s feelings.
Schools are shut down (my poor homeschool kids won’t see too much of a difference). Businesses are altering plans. My governor “strongly recommended” no groups over 100 gather for the next 2 weeks. The CDC just said groups over 50 are recommended not to gather for the next 8 weeks.
How is a pastor to lead in times like these? I’ve got all kinds of scenarios running around in my head. I want to shepherd our people well during these times, but there aren’t any easy answers.
I’m concerned about the impact of fear being greater than the actual impact of the virus.
I do believe the virus to be dangerous, but when there is a toilet paper shortage in our country, we must admit something is getting out of hand in our mindsets. We need to protect ourselves from germs, but we also need to encourage others’ souls to find peace in these times. These are unprecedented, challenging times.
The Word on My Mind
After a crazy busy day of trying to be the church yesterday, I laid in bed and thought, “What do I say to the staff tomorrow? What are we going to do? How do we care for our families?”
As I was processing those questions, I admitted to God: “I don’t know what to do.”
As soon as I said it, the Spirit reminded me of another man who said those same words, but he completed the thought:
“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”2 Chronicles 20:12
These words came from King Jehoshaphat. An allied group of nations were moving against the people of Judah, and he was rightfully sobered by that reality.
A Helpful Progression
What did he do when he was overwhelmed?
- He prayed and fasted (and encouraged others to do so) (2 Ch. 20:3).
- He remembered God’s faithfulness in the past (2 Ch. 20:4-7).
- He expressed his confidence in God’s ability to handle anything (2 Ch. 20:8-9).
- He acknowledged his inability but professed God’s ability (2 Ch. 20:10-12).
- The people remembered that God would be fighting their battles (2 Ch. 20:13-17).
- They worshiped (2 Ch. 20:18-21).
- God provided the victory (2 Ch. 20:22).
He gives a pretty solid guide. While my admission to God about not knowing what to do reminded me of that verse, I was overwhelmed by the timeliness of the context of the passage.
“If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or PESTILENCE, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you – for your name is in this house – and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.”2 Chronicles 20:9
Pestilence, huh? While I don’t think the COVID-19 is on the level of a fatal epidemic disease, it is frightening for many. But if God can handle an epidemic, he can also cover a pandemic. In moments like these, God’s people are meant to call out to God and see him deliver as only he can.
As the people of God, we can stand before his presence confident that he hears us. He sees us. He saves us.
I’m praying for deliverance, protection, and direction. I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on him. I don’t know what staff meeting will hold. I’m unsure about how we should plan for the coming days. I am really unclear about how we serve our people with very complex needs.
I can’t worry about tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matt. 6:34).
I’m going to remind myself and others of who he is and what he can do. We are going to pray to him and worship him with confidence.
He’s got a plan. We will see it soon enough. Until then, I’m going to work my best to get my eyes off from being fixated on the COVID-19 and reorient them around my Deliverer.
That does not mean to neglect precaution. Wash your hands. Keep your hands away from your face. Take wise steps. Just don’t dwell on this virus so much that you give into panic.
Take your eyes off of the COVID-19, and focus them on your Savior.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.