The plague hit our small town last week. It went from being an international problem to one closer to home. Guys, I live in a small town. Most people haven’t heard of it. We reference it by a city at the bottom of the hill. And if people haven’t heard of the city, we just say Durban even though it’s a good hour away.
So imagine the horror that our tiny, little town held the first case in South Africa and our local doctor closed her practice because she diagnosed this poor man. Everyone hit a flat panic. Road chat groups went moggy and the messages rolled through every few minutes for hours. Our moms’ group and Bible study group went crazy. I went from being shocked to too terrified to touch my children in case I was sick. I imagined hiding in my house like the Jews did in World War 2, too afraid to step out – I can’t tell you how many times I thought this. I wondered how we would purge our small town from this scourge. I wondered how we would go to the shop. I felt despair at the thought of being “quarantined” at home away from people for two weeks as many were suggesting just to be safe.
That whole Thursday afternoon, it felt as though I was in a nightmare. I walked around in a daze, my phone gripped in my hand for updates. I couldn’t think about anything else. I was completely consumed. And with each hour, news and sensationalism went from bad to worse. No one knew what to do. Everyone took it upon themselves to pass on every conceivable message forwarded to them. So by the time we hit the darkness of the night, our town was gripped with fear and crippled by the unknown. It was too awful waking up the next day still in the throes of the nightmare and not knowing what the next two weeks would look like.
Apparently it was a ghost town out there – the main shopping centre deserted and the only hand sanitiser still left in the shops was the one that greeted you at the door with the disinfectant trolley wipes.
If I haven’t already said it, I have (self-diagnosed) OCD. For those of you who don’t know about it, it’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
This is what a Google Search defines it as,
“Excessive thoughts (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviours (compulsions). Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterised by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead to compulsive behaviours. OCD often centres on themes such as a fear of germs or the need to arrange objects in a specific manner.”
I’m terrified of germs. And the thought that they are floating around there completely uncontained and spreading faster than a wildfire scares me! I dreamt up a sanitising fogger (like you get for pests in the home) to sanitise everything!
But, selfishly, more than that, I was worried that I would have to cancel my birthday party. It sounds stupid but my friend “joked”, in all seriousness, that the reason the COVID-19 virus hit our small town was because I had planned an event and something always seems to happen when I plan an event!
I almost didn’t plan a 30th because I was scared of what might happen! And the minute this happened, I literally wanted to turn around to God and say,
I questioned whether it was even responsible to go ahead with a “mass gathering” when faced with this news. And I had to thank God that although things seemed to “get in the way”, He even pandered to my selfish self who wanted a thirtieth in spite of the fact that there was a dreaded disease lurking in an isolation ward. My friends took over the planning and it ended up being a complete surprise. It wasn’t a call I really had to make.
The new week began and although most people had started living life normally again, the undercurrent of the virus was still present. On Monday night, the numbers were up to 7 but all were from the same touring group. Relief flooded me each time I realised that each new case was linked to the first and there was no cross-contamination occuring within the country.
But then, all of a sudden, there were seven new cases overnight. My mind went from calm to panic. And it’s not the virus I’m scared of. It’s the knock-on effect it will have on society. If it gets into a rural area where people don’t have the option of self-quarantine; where people are too scared to say they’re sick because they need the money to feed their family because their “madam” won’t pay them if they take sick leave; where people don’t have access to good sanitation or know about good hand washing; where people can’t summon the doctor on the phone but have to take a taxi to sit in a queue at a clinic alongside HIV or TB patients to get seen to then we will see an epidemic and hit a state of emergency. The wealthy will stockpile and leave shelves without so much as a toilet roll or bag of rice. And we will be forced to hide in our “fortresses” away from people. THAT scares me. I can’t function without people. I go mental. I get depressed. I’ve been in self-quarantine for gastro bugs before (5 days after symptoms disappear if you didn’t know…) and it is hard to be without adult company. I cannot conceive weeks of isolation.
I fluctuate from being calm and having my thoughts together to sheer terror and my thoughts flying all over the place like a mechanism explosion on a cartoon.
I can’t do this! I can’t bear the thought!
But recently I was reminded of this truth,
“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Nothing can alter God’s plan for my life. No COVID-19 virus can stand in His way or withstand His power should He wish it not to. Because before my body was woven together in my mother’s womb, God knew. He knew this day would come where my tolerance levels would be tested.
I read Zephaniah 3:17 this morning as my verse to meditate on for the day.
“The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.”
He is mighty to save! Not our way, like obliterating this virus if that’s not what He wants, but saving us in His way. Maybe, dare I say, He’s refining us through this? The human race strives for control and order. We have now been plunged into a world of havoc, disorder and the unknown. We have nowhere to turn but to Him.
I love the phrase that He will “quiet you with His love”. Be still my thundering heart because my Father will quiet it. All the “what-ifs”, the deepest fears, the anxiety and worry will be quieted, calmed and “hugged” away by His love.
I have wondered what people do if they don’t want to know God. How are they staying sane through this chaos? If it’s up to fate and chance, what hope is there? This virus can sweep the nation and leave disaster in its wake. And if you don’t believe that someone is in control in the midst of this tumult…I shudder at the thought!
C.S. Lewis once said,
But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
Is this His way of rousing a deaf world?
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry,
Everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations,
Is there trouble anywhere, a
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
This flippin’ virus is a trial in my life. And I am carrying around a weight of worry because I am petrified of the epidemic it will become if the infection rate skyrockets.
Why are we so stupid? Maybe I speak for myself only here, but why do we try to do things in our own strength without the help of the Lord? Why does it take us so long to turn to prayer? Why is it a last resort? Why is borrowing our strength from the Almighty not our first port of call? Maybe it takes things like the COVID-19 virus to make us realise that we cannot control our lives much as we try. Maybe God is dealing with a deep-rooted sin in my life and maybe in yours too.
May we not be blind to the lessons He is trying to teach us through this. May we turn to Him first. Because no matter how much we think we can take control with our bottles of hand sanitiser and cupboards of loo roll, ultimately God holds the reigns to our lives! Do you want to be sitting up there alongside Him or trying to stand in His way?
Photo Credit: The Digital ArtistTags: corona, coronavirus, covid-19, cs lewis, epidemic, faith, fear, hand sanitiser, hope, Lord, pain, panic, plague, prayer, psalm 139, scare, south africa, state of emergency, stockpile, toilet paper, trust, virus, what a friend we have in Jesus, worry, Zephaniah