I think this the best time to acknowledge and cover our international concerns in prayer. The Corona Virus has had its impact on our way of life and I just want to speak from both this experience and my experience with taking care of my husband after his injury about how to survive an ever-changing, unpredictable medical situation.
The theme across all houses of prayer, whether they are meeting in person or online, is faith over fear. While I think we all want to have faith in something, whether that's modern medicine, the media or our church, I want to add in the word that I feel is really plaguing people: fact.
What do we actually fear? The facts.
When Josh was in the hospital, his livelihood hung in the balance much like the mercurial status of the Coronavirus. Josh would be okay one minute and screaming from pain the next. He could be sleeping one minute and "coding" the next. The calmest times at the hospital were when he was in surgery, which was probably more touch-and-go than I realized, I just wasn't present to see it. What I learned during my life as a caregiver was how to pray for facts. In order for me to survive, I had to learn how to take a situation as it was and pray over real things. Of course, I believed in God's healing before Josh was injured. I had prayed against my mom's breast cancer, the disease of addiction I had seen in some friends, and injuries of teammates. But sometimes those prayers felt like they fell flat. Not because God can't zap the cancer out of someone, but because asking Him to do so was like asking Him to do a magic trick--which is exactly what I thought miracles were. Because I didn't feel adequate or knowledgable enough to ask for a miracle, I just prayed the typical "Lord, let your will be done." Then, my husband got injured and I learned that I wasn't going to sit back and pray for some mysterious presence to fix the situation. Again, not that He couldn't, but I had never heard of God sprouting someone's legs back. I was going to have to take prayer one fact at a time. Facts made prayer more specific than "please heal his body." It brought understanding that the Lord will not skip steps to or grant a wish in order to make me (or Josh) feel better. He designed the human body and He designed how it heals. I had to accept that in order to understand how to pray.
When doctors would come in and talk to us, they would give us a prognosis, a diagnosis, a plan, or a treatment based on what they knew. These were the facts. This provided the basis for not only our prayers, but our actions. When I had time to have a few thoughts to myself, I thought what is a fact? "Fact" and "faith" have always been two separate things in my religion. There's what the world tells me, then there's what the Bible tells me, and it seems like no one thinks they can come together.
What is fact? (This is a definition based on my life's experience, not anything in the dictionary) A set of conclusions deriving from information an expert already knows from either having studied or experienced the scope of the occurrence or discipline many times.
What is faith? (same rules as above) The part of us that speaks to the Creator who does not yield to the scope of what His creation knows or understands.
Science and modern medicine validate God. Whether you're talking about photosynthesis or the creation of chemotherapy, God has always had the answer, man is the one looking for it. We made it a habit to pray over Josh's doctors before they took him back to surgery. We prayed real prayers over real facts:
"Help these doctors remember the many lives they have saved and to not be nervous about this one."
"Help them rely on each other and trust each other to make the right calls."
"When they make a decision, whether it's controversial or not, bless it. For only you know what the end result will be."
Let me tell you, there were many scenarios where we high-fived our doctors for choosing the road less traveled and it worked and there were a few scenarios where..... they became better doctors through admitting they were completely stumped. How do you know which will happen? You don't. But what you can lean on is Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." We believed that. Even when we felt uneasy about a decision that had been made.
I don't want to write this from a place that leaves anyone thinking "see, all we have to do is believe and we will be immune/alright/live through it." This is where BIG faith comes in. Josh and I currently live in a mortgage-free, handicap-accessible home, we are financially free, we have two beautiful children, we have college degrees; a much different life than the days where we prayed he could make it through the hour. However, I could very well be writing this sitting in an apartment, with no children, as a Gold-Star widow. The thing is, ALL THINGS work together for good to them who love God. Even death. In fact, death is the ONLY thing guaranteed in this life. Do you ever think about that? When you consider money, children, jobs, impact, gifts, or friends, all of those things are uncertain. The only thing every single one of us must succumb to is death. But to those who love the Lord, even death works to the good of us who love God. How? I think it's much like the passing of my grandmother. Her death built my faith and has given me a new reason to love people greater and work on the parts of me that I have allowed to become a place for sin to grow. I gained perspective on what really matters and I feel like my eyes were opened to the opportunities I had to serve God. Much the same was Josh's injury, having my children, stepping away from my job, and reflecting on some of the Bible's major characters. All notating one thing: there is a big difference in the body and in the spirit. The spirit is the part of us that is like God that no other living thing has. It's the part of us that has the ability to live on past the capacity of our vessel.
The fact is, I could contract the Corona Virus or get diagnosed with cancer or get in a devastating car accident. None of those things can take my spirit away. Isn't it the human spirit that is also the part of us that overcomes the odds? That has a good life in the wake of terminal illness or tragedy? We are designed that way. We absolutely need to turn our fear into faith. Let it be the reason we get close to God in a new way. We cannot despise the things that make us want Him more. But when you pray, pray over the facts. Pray over the things that make you feel panicked inside. If the CDC says you're next door neighbor has this virus, bring that to God. Can I tell you something? God lives in this reality too. Our prayers should not be shutting out the facts and asking the Great and Powerful Oz to make it disappear. Our prayers should be the immediate response when we hear something unexpected. As our pastor says "It would be better to pray for one minute ten times a day than to pray for ten minutes once a day." God's already there, so you might as well turn toward Him and start talking about what really bothers you. I truly believe in reflection on those things, you'll find something that the media, politicians, drug companies, or the CDC is trying to give: peace for today and hope for tomorrow.
Below are some of my favorite leaders weighing in on this issue. Give these a listen and know that there is an answer to Corona Virus, we just need to find it.