March 2020
In Times Such As This

In times of fear and panic (exhibit A: the infamous run on toilet paper), as a community we need to consider: what is the right way to be? Not decide, because most of us have decisions made for us with respect to government restrictions and business and school decisions. But, what kind of people are we going to be as events wash over us?

I think it’s important that we understand the reality of our situation. We are witnessing something that the West hasn’t seen since the invention of the polio vaccine. In the 1940s, the grandfather of one of our teachers was a public health official and closed schools down due to the polio threat. While these seem to be unprecedented times, we look back in history and see that the world has often been stricken with fear about a threat they could not control.” C.S. Lewis wrote the essay, “On Living in an Atomic Age,” 72 years ago, responding to how society should live in the new age of the atomic bomb. It is just as fitting for what we are facing today.

How are we to live in an atomic age? Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer,… an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents. In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. 

…The first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let [it] find us doing sensible and human things – praying, working, teaching [online!], reading, listening to music… – not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs…[It] may break our bodies…but [it] need not dominate our minds.

So, are we going to be people racked by fear of the unknown and loss of control? Putting others at risk by hoarding or blatantly disregarding instructions to keep us safe? Are we going to focus inward and destroy our peace by getting angry at random people on FaceBook? Or, are we going to be people who recognize that to love requires thoughtfulness and care? Are we going to reach out and extend a helping hand to our neighbors (while maintaining six feet of separation)? 

At the end of the day, we will lay our heads on our pillows and rest. Not because we have all the answers, but because we know the One who does. Just as young children will proceed through dangers without a care when they have complete trust in the strong arms of a parent, we recognize that our Heavenly Father is both sovereign and good, and has commanded us to cast our burdens upon Him (Matthew 11:28).

We live in times that are not unprecedented and not a surprise to Him. Let’s all rest in that fact. Let’s love one another. We’re all in this together.