This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust in him.
— Psalm 91:2
As I write these words, President Donald J. Trump has declared a National Emergency to fight the Coronavirus, now called Covid–19. Just days ago, this would have been treated as excessive, but not today. We are charting a new territory, facing an unknown outcome, a faceless and deadly foe — a foe that screams messages of insecurity and uncertainty. Struggling to understand the magnitude and devastating effects of this virus, we are faced with feelings of helplessness and suddenly, our lives can spin out of control, strikingly similar to pre-hurricane foreboding with which those of us in the Lowcountry are all too familiar.
In the days of preparation before a coming storm the sky is blue, the clouds are white and the air is soft and fresh. But we prepare because we know potential danger is near. The hurricane is coming but until the “eye” turns toward Charleston, we really don’t know if we will experience a direct hit, a near miss, or be spared as the storm travels up the coast or out to sea. In much the same fashion, we face Covid-19, another
unexpected and increasingly dangerous situation. We need an anchor to stabilize our anxious thoughts and manage frightening images of what could happen. We desperately need a place of peace and security. We cry out to our Lord and Savior and as He reminds us, our hope comes from Him — for He alone is our anchor, the one who cares above all others. His Word remains true today.
“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” — Psalm 62:5 NIV
Facing the unknown in seasons of insecurity, fear and lack of control, our hope must be centered in the sure knowledge of the Lord’s saving grace and overwhelming love. God promises us peace that defies our understanding; hope in His good plan for us and place our need for control into His hands. He created each of us to know and love Him; to love and serve His people and to complete the work He ordained for us before birth. His Word does not change, nor do the trials of today, or the culture, or the slings and arrows of our enemy affect it.
In this strange and bewildering time, I believe God is telling us to prepare sensibly, to follow the instructions of qualified medical personnel and sound government officials. Even though the world screams, “you are in danger,” we can rest assured that our lives are ultimately in His loving hands and from this place of trust, we can calmly respond with strength and wisdom even in the face of fear.
I am reminded of the story of Esther and her courage to stand against the plots of an evil, powerful man to destroy her people, the Jews. We can learn two important lessons from the book of Esther in how to face very real fears from both a practical and spiritual perspective. While Esther’s enemy was a political foe, bent on killing all the Jews, the virus Covid-19 also brings a threat of death. First, from a practical perspective, both Esther and her uncle, Mordecai, a high government official, respected and worked under the Persian rule of law as they navigated their way to convince the king to save the Jewish people. We are called to abide by the laws of the land and God honors this posture. They planned carefully, recognizing, as Mordecai challenged Esther, had she not attained her royal position to come to the aide of her people “for such a time as this?” (Esther 4: 13-14).
Esther was born and positioned to accomplish a specific work — to save God’s chosen people destined for death by the king’s second in command — but the choice to follow the Lord’s plan was her decision to make. Going uninvited before the king meant risking her life for the sake of others and it meant turning from her normal routine and mindset as queen in the palace to obey the higher call of the Lord. She took this seriously and made time to spiritually prepare for this task by cleansing and purifying herself body, soul and spirit. She committed to a time of prayer and fasting and also asked her people, God’s chosen people, to join her in prayer and fasting. When she finally entered the King’s court, she walked forward with confidence and trust in God to be in control of her life, even if it meant she physically perished (Esther 4:16). The Lord made Esther to be queen for such a time as this. Can we follow Esther’s model of careful planning undergirded by prayer, fasting and intercession to face our current perils with faith, courage and trust in the ultimate sovereignty of God for the outcome?
The abundant life promised by God occurs in the very midst of whatever trials the enemy throws at us. It is available to us especially in the midst of illness and economic hardship. May we each make good use of the imposed time away from the hectic pace of modern life and receive it as an unexpected opportunity to seek His Presence daily, fortify ourselves in His Word and learn to trust Him to comfort and lead us. Learning to trust in God’s goodness regardless of circumstances or outcomes is the place of true safety and refuge in these frightening and perplexing times. As we intercede for ourselves and for others, we will experience the consolation of His peace and sovereignty in such a time as this.
“My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’”
— Psalm 27:8, NLT
Carol Conway is a licensed therapist at Life Resources, a non-profit Christian emotional and relational wellness center located in Mount Pleasant, S.C. For more information about Carol and Life Resources, visit their website at www.myliferesources.org.