A meditation by Jilu Chengat on staying calm and responding in a Godly way to the panic of Covid-19 pandemic sweeping across the world.

We are living in an interesting and uncertain time – a time when the word coronavirus is on the tip of every tongue. For many of us, in the past few weeks, our lives have been rapidly flipped upside down by the closings and limitations being placed on schools, workplaces and churches, in ever increasing attempts to contain and mitigate the effects of this disease. We are living in a time where even Sunday masses have been cancelled in many places for the protection and health of people!

Many, (including ourselves) may be anxious, afraid and paranoid. So how do we respond in these times? Well obviously, as Christians, we pray. We turn to Scripture to ease our concerns and to listen to the truth. And as we do so, we are reminded thus,”As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7

I invite you to reflect on this verse. Though it is probably the last thought in many people’s minds, this is the time to give thanks. It is the time to ABOUND in thanksgiving. Abound means something like overflow. Are we rooted in our faith and overflowing in thanksgiving, or being tossed about with fears and anxieties of this world? To overflow with thanksgiving at a time when there are so many short-term and long term implications of this disease is not an easy feat. But possibly, we are invited into a deeper Lenten experience with Jesus in the desert, where our faith, convictions and desires are tested and purified so that we can be led deeper into the joy of God’s plan for us!

During these trials, WHAT IF we lean into our faith? WHAT IF, we face the uncertainties with the certainty that God will provide for all of our needs? WHAT IF, we see this as an opportune time to ease the anxieties of those around us, with the peace that we have in Christ? WHAT IF, we increase our missionary zeal and find creative ways to bring the gospel to those around us?

Surely, we will have many concerns and questions. There are many practical matters that we have to decide and determine. We must be prudent, safe and of course, abide by the local recommendation and mandates from both government and church officials to protect ourselves and others. It is a sad reality that in many places, it might be some time before we can go to Mass, attend our Jesus Youth meetings or have our gatherings.

But let us remember one thing. We are Jesus Youth and saints in the making.

Perhaps now, more than ever, we are invited to step into the priestly, prophetic and kingly identity given to us in baptism. Most of the saints in their own time arose and stood firm in their faith in the face of great obstacles. “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Let us look deeply at the questions that run through our minds and let our thoughts remain with the Lord! Rather than getting lost in reflections that lead to anxiety and worry, let us reflect:

How can I serve the physical, spiritual or mental needs of those around me?

How can I combat the growing loneliness and isolation? 

How can I bring joy into a world that is quickly starting to despair? 

How is the Lord calling me in such a time as this? 

Though we may have to change the ways that we gather, let us remember that nothing can prevent us from standing strong in our communion, and the conviction of God’s providence during this time. We do not and cannot ignore the realities of the world around us as affected by COVID-19, but we can look towards God and remain in spiritual communion with each other and our suffering brothers and sisters! We can still be missionaries.

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Jilu Chengat is a wife, mother, and nurse, and is currently serving as the National Coordinator for Jesus Youth of America. She has been with JY since her teen years and is passionate about bringing the light of Christ to young people.