Scripture: Mark 4:35-41
Key verse: (40) “Why are you afraid?”
Reflection: Today’s lectionary reading is remarkably timely. As I write this devotional, responses to the spread of the Coronavirus are intensifying. Notification that there are now two diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in Charlotte has just come. In the past 24 hours, I’ve had multiple meetings with church staff and clergy in the community to discuss how we are responding. “Why are you afraid?” asks Jesus to his disciples in the boat after calming the storm. This was a question we considered in worship last month. It’s not a hard question to answer right now.
We are afraid because we feel vulnerable. We are afraid because of the unknown. We are afraid because we’re being told this isn’t like other illnesses. It’s more contagious and it’s more fatal. We are afraid of the economic impact this might have. We are afraid for those who are already more vulnerable in our midst; for the aging, for those with compromised immune systems, for those who live on the edge financially. We are afraid for those who require care now, for those battling cancer or heart disease or diabetes or other illnesses that require the need of a health care system that just might be overwhelmed by this pandemic.
“Have you still no faith?” asks Jesus after challenging the disciples’ fear. It’s the question he asks us whenever we feel paralyzed by fear. Can we trust that Jesus is in the boat with us? Can we find the courage we need to recognize that we are all in this boat together? What does it mean to have faith in the midst of this storm we face?
It begins by recognizing we are indeed all in this boat together, with the whole wide world. So we must respond faithfully. How do we do that? Here are some possibilities:
1. Washing our hands, avoiding unnecessary contact, and observing basic hygiene.
2. Self-quarantining if we feel ill.
3. Opening our hearts and minds to the potential impact this will have on others in the boat
4. Putting the interests of others before ourselves.
5. Not going to the doctor or emergency room right now unless it’s absolutely urgent.
6. Cooking or shopping or running errands for people in vulnerable populations, or for people who have self-quarantined.
7. Sharing resources so that those living on the edge financially might be sustained through this time.
8. Finding ways to support local businesses that will be impacted by the collapse of normal activities
9. Opening your home to out-of-town college students stranded in Charlotte if colleges here close
10. Letting go of frustrations about cancellations and postponements aimed at “flattening the curve.” For more on that see here.
11. Praying for health care workers, for community leaders, for the vulnerable and the infirmed.
12. Being generous in every way, with time, talents and treasure as you are able.
Storms have a way of calling forth great faith. May Christ still the storms of our own hearts this day, that we might find the faith we need to face whatever tomorrow holds, remembering Christ holds tomorrow, and we can trust him with that, because his love is unfailing in the face of every threat.
Prayer: “Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].