By Heather Walton
I believe in following the requests of our governing officials, as long as they don’t ask us to go against Scriptural commands or principles (Mark 12:17; Romans 13:1-7). I also believe in not giving in to fear (Joshua 1:9; Psalm 23:4; Isaiah 41:10; Philippians 4:6-7, etc.). In this time of heightened health sensitivity due to COVID-19, my approach, both as a community member and a community leader, has been to follow the direction of our governing officials. Since the seriousness of the situation began to become clear, I have not attended any large gatherings, and as director of a para-church organization, I have worked with our board to cancel all events and meetings for at least the next three weeks. However, I also have conducted the rest of my life as normal, attending smaller meetings, going to the grocery store, and hosting people in my home.
I have watched as people have given in to fear or greed, buying ridiculous amounts of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and bottled water. I have witnessed others making light of the situation, posting insensitive memes or flaunting how they really don’t care because they aren’t giving into fear or they aren’t at risk. Still others are more worried about the effect on the economy than on people’s health. Really I was taking it all in as more of an observer than anything else, but I have to admit I was skeptical.
Until last night …
At around 10 p.m., I suddenly started coughing. Suddenly. No warning. Before that, I had felt great. A few days ago I had blood work, and all of it was good.
Overnight the cough got worse, and now I have a sore throat and chest pain. No fever, though. I’ve consulted with a health provider online and they just want me to stay at home. They are having to be very careful about whom they test, as there are a limited number of tests available. There are so many things going around that it’s likely I just have a regular cold.
Am I worried? No, not about myself. But I do think of all the people I’ve come into contact with during the last 7 days. I have been around multiple people over 60, and I’ve been around at least one immune-compromised person. I’ve also been around an unknown number of people who will be around others over 60 or with immune challenges. This concerns me.
I probably don’t have coronavirus. Nevertheless, this has all gotten me thinking. I would hate to be oblivious to the need for caution, and because I personally didn’t think it was a big deal, to have caused problems for someone else who can’t handle getting sick. I know there are sicknesses going around all the time, but this one seems to be more contagious and more problematic to specific populations.
I encourage you, even if you’re as healthy as can be, to avoid unnecessary contact with others. I fully believe God determines our times and places and that He remains on His throne and in control of the universe. I also know He calls us to be considerate of others, even when it inconveniences us (Philippians 2:3; John 15:13). A few days ago, I didn’t understand what all the hype was about. Now, whether or not I have COVID-19, I more fully understand the importance of doing our best not to spread it.
I also encourage you to find creative and practical ways to support those impacted economically by this crisis. The effects are potentially serious for many; as one who earns money by being consistently in contact with other people, I understand this.
I believe the answer to this and to every situation is love, because “perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18),” “is not self-seeking (1 Corinthians 13:5),” “always protects (1 Corinthians 13:7),” and “does no harm to a neighbor (Romans 13:9-10).” So please don’t join in the panic, and don’t buy unnecessary amounts of supplies, therefore depriving others of those same necessities. Please consider your reasons for doing business as usual. And please consider those vulnerable people with whom you may not normally even cross paths. And in all things, prayerfully consider what is the most loving choice.
(Author’s Note: Here is an article that lays out the risks, from a physician’s point of view, better than anything else I’ve seen so far.)