It’s a small world after all. Here we all are, gripped by the unknown of COVID-19.
As coronavirus seeps around the world, we seem to all be looking around us: “What do we do?”
And this human experience could potentially bring us all together in the understanding of human frailty and human resilience, mortality and immortality.
But I hear so much about the ugliness of humanity coming out as well. Fear tends to do that when left to its own devices.
I don’t know what it’s like to live in America during this worldwide panic. I hear stories. It’s interesting being on the outside and looking in.
People grapple with the unknown in different ways, no matter where you live. Those with the financial means tend to buy up food and necessities to protect them for the coming unknown. Those without financial means might borrow money if they can or just worry that they can’t.
One sweet friend here, who lives on her daily income to help care for aging parents and other family members, asked me, “Where am I supposed to go get a lot of money suddenly to buy lots of food? What am I supposed to do?”
Like most of us, she doesn’t know where this incoming danger might be coming from. When she arrived at my home she took her shoes off outside my door and put them in a plastic bag so that they wouldn’t bring germs into my home.
We can be tempted to laugh at the idea that the virus might come in on our shoes. But it’s not a laughing matter when people are scared because they don’t know what causes COVID-19.
It’s not funny to wonder whether to go to the grocery store or not, whether to send your child to school or not, whether to still meet with your neighbors or not.
I think about a world of people afraid and uncertain, about the natural instinct to want to isolate and protect ourselves. To buy up all the food and necessities to make sure you and yours are safe.
Safety can be an idol that keeps us from God. I remember Psalm 20:7: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
This is my City on COVID-19
Many of the changes in Egypt are likely similar to what you’re seeing wherever you live.
The announcement came last weekend that all school and universities were to close for two weeks. International schools went online, teachers scrambling to see how to make their lessons work over Zoom, email, Whatsapp. Families tried to decide what to do with kids home and if parents could work from home.
This is a city that depends on public transportation to move people around; where the majority of people depend on working every day for money to take home to buy food or pay for necessities. Transportation and restaurants, for now, remain open, but with limited hours for the latter and most stores.
COVID-19: When loving your neighbor looks like isolation
I’m not saying isolation is not a good way to try to be wise during these times. We all need to take precautions to be extra vigilant for the sake of the most vulnerable
I live in a big city where people are in contact all the time because their livelihoods depend on it and their way of life depends on it.
Yes, things are shutting down here too. Cinemas have closed, schools and universities have closed, and stores are closing. Supermarkets have reserved times for the elderly. Traffic is minimal. Churches are closing as well. We went to the park and it was almost empty.
It’s very strange for a city of 25 million to look so empty.
information: The double-blind
We receive news here in bits and in gushes. We (my family and community) have access to the internet and a wide variety of new sources. But it all becomes overwhelming. Stories seem unbelievable. Rumors spread like wildfire.
A lot of people here do not have access to accurate information. They don’t know the best ways to keep places clean or how to avoid germs. They don’t always know what makes them sick. Not all of the cleaning products are quality products. Public restrooms often do not have soap on a regular basis because it would be stolen or wasted.
How Do We Love Our Neighbors as Ourselves AMIDST COVID-19?
Especially in these strange days, how do we love those around us?
The reason my family and coworkers live in Egypt is to love others and honor God. The greatest commandment is to love God and love people.
I don’t want to forget that because I’m afraid of COVID-19. I don’t want to forget that because I’m isolating myself.
When we sit in our fear and uncertainty, we don’t make wise decisions. We don’t make loving decisions.
Where is “safe”?
Today we met with friends for online church. We sang about Christ being the solid rock and all else being sinking sand.
But we must trust him more deeply than just having faith we won’t get sick.
The thing about this virus being worldwide is that it means you can’t go to some specific location to be safe (maybe Antarctica, my kids would say). Everywhere people are facing the same questions of the unknown: what if I or my loved ones get COVID-19?
My sense of security has to be in something greater than my power to control my surroundings.
Comfort has to be in something greater than my stash of food.
Safety has to be in something greater than the healthcare system.
Peace has to be in something greater than any preventative measure I can make.
Even though I walk through the valley of the unknown, I will fear no disease. You are with me.
I AM NOT THE SOLE KEEPER OF MY FATE.
If I can really trust that whatever comes my way is allowed because God has decided it is good and right, then I don’t have to be the sole keeper of my fate.
And maybe bad things will come and suffering will happen and the coronavirus will still sweep through. And I will weep.
Every life lost here on earth has value and weight. They are not statistics in God’s eyes.
How do we reach out in love and hope to those around us? How do we fight the darkness of fear with words of truth and life? Could it be that in the midst of a global pandemic, Muslims find the Healer of a much more lethal malady?
I believe that every person on earth is valuable because they are made in the image of God and every death is worth noting. God is still good when people die.
“I Want to be in my Home”
We must make decisions the best way we can. We must think about how our actions affect everyone.
Yes, please pay attention to your health and your activities. Please make wise decisions. Please love others as you make decisions daily with the ever unfolding information.
As of today, Egypt has closed her airport. I thought that I would feel anxious when that happened but I don’t. For now, I want to be here. I want to be in my home.
I’ll to be right here when my children say, “Hey, Mom, can we put some of the food in our pantry into bags to give to the poor people sitting along the street?” I want to be here when we take those bags outside to the people we pass by every “normal” day.
Sarah serves in Egypt with her husband and four children. You can catch her blog here.