How I Survive Social Distancing
When you’re experiencing a crisis in your life, it’s natural to dwell on that crisis more than anything else. Whether it’s a small personal dilemma or a global pandemic like we’re currently living through, the spontaneous response of our hearts is to meditate on the anxiety.
Does this sound like your daily routine? When you wake up every morning, the first thing you do is check the news to discover the latest stats and developments:
- How many cases of COVID-19 are in my town or state?
- How long is this social distancing predicted to last?
- What are the financial markets doing today?
- What does the latest expert have to contribute?
(If you’re anything like me, you’ll be tempted to do the same again before bed … and revisit multiple times throughout the day!)
Staying informed and making wise decisions based on that information is a good thing. The problem is that we can develop an unhealthy habit in our hearts where we meditate on trouble and forget God.
When we do this, the crisis will loom larger and larger, and God will appear smaller and smaller.
Only one thing can result from such a habit: fear.
Paralyzing, panic-producing, anxiety-resulting fear.
Today I want to help you fight against fear and break that unhealthy habit.
The most powerful weapon against fear during a crisis is gratitude.
When we intentionally look for reasons to be thankful, we do not deny the reality of the situation. We’re not disregarding the grim statistics or ignoring the counsel of our government officials.
Instead, we look at reality through the lens of all the things for which we should be thankful.
The first place to look is vertically. Give thanks for who God is. Meditate on his holiness. Live in awe of his power. Remember his faithfulness. Worship his righteousness. Praise him for his justice. Thank him for his patience, his love, his mercy, and his grace.
After you’ve looked with gratitude vertically, search for all the reasons you have to be thankful horizontally. Specifically, in people, places, and things.
Thank God for the people he has placed in your life. Even during this moment of social distancing, you are surrounded by people who know you, who love you, who text, call, or FaceTime you, and who will walk with you.
Thank God for the places in your life. Maybe that’s a local park where you can walk. Perhaps that’s a neighborhood store that has food and daily necessities. Give thanks for your home, where you can be safe. Give thanks for the specific rooms: where you can eat, relax, exercise, and sleep.
Thank God for the things in your life. Have you taken for granted the technology that allows us all to be connected? What about the books, movies, music, or toys your family can use for entertainment and leisure? Have you inventoried with gratitude the plates and cups in your house that you use to eat and drink?
When David was facing a horrible personal crisis in Psalm 27, he says: “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” (v. 4, ESV)
David is not ethereal and impractically super-spiritual; he’s not ignoring the reality of what he is facing. Instead, David understands that he will only interpret his situation correctly and respond appropriately when he looks at it through the lens of the stunning beauty of his Redeemer.
Like David, you will only understand this crisis (or any troubling situation) accurately and respond to it biblically if you look at it through the spectacular splendor of your Lord: his character, his grace, and the people, places, and things that he has provided for you.
If you do this, you will still be sobered by what you’re facing and make wise decisions, but not be paralyzed by fear.
There are few tools more potent against fear at this moment than gratitude.
Count your blessings!
1. How much time are you spending following the current situation? Are you investing this time to educate yourself, or has it become an unhealthy habit of meditating on the crisis?
2. Write a list of all the things for which you have to be thankful. Itemize your list by people, places, and things. Discuss that list with others and use it as a tool to redirect your gratitude vertically.
3. Who has made an impact on your life recently? Have you communicated your appreciation for them? Do it again today by expressing your affection.
4. How can you incarnate the love of Christ to others today? Take specific and practical steps to represent his generosity and love.