Coming Together in Troubling Times

“Do not be afraid.” It’s a command heard throughout the Bible. From the mouths of angels, prophets and Jesus himself, the charge is the same: “Do not be afraid.”

It is easier said than done.

The sun is shining outside my window as I write, but the world is going crazy. COVID-19 is wreaking havoc, a destructive tidal wave with reverberations felt in every corner of our world.

Shoppers frantically scour markets for dwindling supplies. Schools, concerts and sporting events are shutting down. The financial market is crashing. People are dying. It seems, at the time of this writing, that nobody has a handle on how to put an end to the onslaught.

These are troubling times and people are overwhelmed, anxious about the future. Uncertainty gives way to fear and anger.

It is natural to worry in moments like this. One thing I’ve learned in all my years as a pastor is that everybody is hurting. Everybody carries around the brokenness of this world deep within their souls. Something like the coronavirus amplifies and gives voice to that pain we already know so well.

At Lakebay Church we’ve always had a soft spot for people who are hurting. This is true of the other churches on our peninsula, too. Broken people are welcomed, hungry people are fed. Helping people who are hurt is what we do.

In this time of pandemic, churches, like so many other organizations, seek to walk with our community in hopeful and healing ways. In our anxiety it is easy to let anger and fear divide us. When we work together and care well for one another, we will not just endure but thrive.

We are blessed to have a wealth of resources on the Key Peninsula. I have no doubt our churches and social service groups will be great assets as we navigate the days ahead.

In the same way, so many of you have already demonstrated the community spirit that marks the KP. Running errands for one another, shopping for those at risk, and offering childcare are some of the ways I’ve seen you love each other well. Even as we practice our social distancing, we can continue to lean in to each other, creating the fabric of our society that holds us all up.

In the midst of it all, don’t forget there is still a life to be lived. It’s good to be informed, but it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Take a break from the news and social media, and go for a walk. Work in your yard. Listen to some music. Read a book. Turn off the TV and let your soul be at peace. We’re no good to each other when we’re drowning in anxiety. Be good to each other and yourself.

We should be concerned, yes. Aware and alert, definitely. But let us not be afraid and instead hold each other closely –– with compassion and kindness — and we will weather this storm together.

May we all find hope and joy in this Easter season. Love wins; do not be afraid.

Award-winning columnist Dan Whitmarsh is pastor at Lakebay Community Church.