“Clean Hands. Open Hearts.”

First of all, I need to pen a tiny rant that I really wanted to title this post “Don’t Panic” as a cheeky Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference, but I thought people would probably take it far too literally and I’m moderately disappointed with the title I eventually chose. Alas.
End rant.

It’s time. 😮

I can’t NOT write about the craziness that is coronavirus. It’s just about literally the only thing anyone’s talking about these days. For a long time I didn’t want to because I was just. so. over. it. But I also found myself getting so wound up by everyone’s reactions that I couldn’t seem to stop talking about it. I was so frustrated and even angry with everyone…and not really sure why it was getting to me so much. Until I read the following post (posted by a Dr. Abdu Sharkawy from Toronto):

“I’m a doctor and an Infectious Diseases Specialist. I’ve been at this for more than 20 years seeing sick patients on a daily basis. I have worked in inner city hospitals and in the poorest slums of Africa. HIV-AIDS, Hepatitis,TB, SARS, Measles, Shingles, Whooping cough, Diphtheria…there is little I haven’t been exposed to in my profession. And with notable exception of SARS, very little has left me feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed or downright scared.
I am not scared of Covid-19. I am concerned about the implications of a novel infectious agent that has spread the world over and continues to find new footholds in different soil. I am rightly concerned for the welfare of those who are elderly, in frail health or disenfranchised who stand to suffer mostly, and disproportionately, at the hands of this new scourge. But I am not scared of Covid-19.
What I am scared about is the loss of reason and wave of fear that has induced the masses of society into a spellbinding spiral of panic, stockpiling obscene quantities of anything that could fill a bomb shelter adequately in a post-apocalyptic world. I am scared of the N95 masks that are stolen from hospitals and urgent care clinics where they are actually needed for front line healthcare providers and instead are being donned in airports, malls, and coffee lounges, perpetuating even more fear and suspicion of others. I am scared that our hospitals will be overwhelmed with anyone who thinks they “probably don’t have it but may as well get checked out no matter what because you just never know…” and those with heart failure, emphysema, pneumonia and strokes will pay the price for overfilled ER waiting rooms with only so many doctors and nurses to assess.
I am scared that travel restrictions will become so far reaching that weddings will be canceled, graduations missed and family reunions will not materialize. And well, even that big party called the Olympic Games…that could be kyboshed too. Can you even imagine?
I’m scared those same epidemic fears will limit trade, harm partnerships in multiple sectors, business and otherwise and ultimately culminate in a global recession.
But mostly, I’m scared about what message we are telling our kids when faced with a threat. Instead of reason, rationality, openmindedness and altruism, we are telling them to panic, be fearful, suspicious, reactionary and self-interested.
Covid-19 is nowhere near over. It will be coming to a city, a hospital, a friend, even a family member near you at some point. Expect it. Stop waiting to be surprised further. The fact is the virus itself will not likely do much harm when it arrives. But our own behaviors and “fight for yourself above all else” attitude could prove disastrous.
I implore you all. Temper fear with reason, panic with patience and uncertainty with education. We have an opportunity to learn a great deal about health hygiene and limiting the spread of innumerable transmissible diseases in our society. Let’s meet this challenge together in the best spirit of compassion for others, patience, and above all, an unfailing effort to seek truth, facts and knowledge as opposed to conjecture, speculation and catastrophizing.
Facts not fear. Clean hands. Open hearts.
Our children will thank us for it.”

It’s nice when someone expresses your turmoil for you. Isn’t it odd how we can feel something strongly, yet be completely unable to put our finger on exactly why until we recognize the reason somewhere else? This post, aside from being, I think, spot on, helped me recognize why I’ve felt so frustrated and impatient with all of this coronavirus drama. It’s because the coronavirus, for all it’s being “novel,” is not unique. There will be another plague in a couple of years, there always is. I’ve lived through several by now. And there will be worse things to be scared of. Wars. Disasters. Shootings. None of these things are ok. None of these things should be made light of. But they must be faced. And we mustn’t let them control us. Most importantly, we must not let them turn us away from each other.

People are as essential to each other as breathing. (I’m aware that’s not strictly true, but allow me some poetic license here.) A good relationship, be it a friendship, a romance, a parent-child relationship, or a co-worker relationship, can be one of the sweetest, most rewarding things there is. The hours of laughter shared. The knowledge that someone is there for you, looking out for you, on your side. Being loved, warts and all. There’s very little that can compare to that. Yet people can hurt us too. They can break our hearts, take away our dignity, or (more relevantly) give us a disease. But it’s worth taking the risk rather than walling yourself in. Similarly, we live in a beautiful world. It’s astonishing. Magnificent. Breathtaking. (I like adjectives.) If you’ve been following this blog at all, you know how I feel about creation. But this world is not kind. It’s dangerous out there. Each time we step out of the house, we take a calculated risk. We decide that being in the world is worth the risk of being harmed by it. We MUST take this risk, or we cease to live.

Don’t hear me wrong, here. Out of respect for others, we should all stay home if we’re ill. Wash our hands. Do our best not to be the problem. The world can manage without us for a few days while we get well. (And the event we wanted to go to was probably cancelled anyway. :-P) HOWEVER, for our own sakes, we can’t be so afraid of what’s out there that we let circumstances determine the course of our lives. Remember the God who loves us:

Psalm 91 (ESV)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

(I was just going to quote a few verses, but it’s just so good!) Does this mean recklessly throw ourselves into bad situations insisting on God’s protection? No. Even Jesus himself refused to be led into that sort of behavior by the devil’s temptation from this very Psalm. But it does mean that when bad circumstances come to our doorstep, we can walk through them without fear. We can be the kind heart, the generous hand. Living without fear means are hearts are free to be compassionate. We cannot be afraid to LIVE and LIVE WELL. If hardship comes, if disaster comes, if you or someone you love ends up with coronavirus (or something else bad happens…because life goes on in other ways too), then take it as it comes and deal with it then. But don’t borrow trouble.

Matthew 6: 34 (ESV)

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

People, friends, please, I’m begging you, decide to ENJOY this day. Don’t be afraid of it. It was made to be rejoiced in.

Psalm 118: 24 (ESV)

24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

And remember, always, to love each other. Don’t let anything dissuade you from it.

1 Peter 1: 22 (NKJV)

22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.

7 thoughts on ““Clean Hands. Open Hearts.”

    1. Who is the author of death. We all know the answer. Damn devil. When people forget how to live life we ultimately die.As for me I am not afraid. I’m still going to get on and airplane and fly this month on vacation. I’m still going to the movies, restaurants and other places where people gather. This virus can be conquered with the help of God and our prayers. God gave us a mind let’s all use it.

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  1. Excellent compilation of truth, always truth, and freedom from fear leading to compassion. I’m glad you quoted all of Psalm 91! It is God’s protection magna carta! Glad we have been able to discuss these things and interact on this expansive concern. Perfect love casts out all fear! Love you!

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  2. I loved your exhortation on living without fear and just enjoying the day. We walk with wisdom and common sense but we just trust God to take care of us. That’s the way to live. Thank you for what you shared!

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