May 01, 2020

A Pandemic’s Four Stresses, God’s Four Remedies

Written By Cary Schmidt

Have you considered the layers of fear and stress that people are managing right now? How are you managing these four stress factors in yourself? How are you leading, relating, or speaking to these stress factors in others? The gospel gives us resources, not merely to cope with these, but to actually triumph through them.

Let’s take a look at four stresses that the pandemic is placing upon all of us and how Jesus gives us resources to thrive through them:

Practical Stresses

These stresses involve all the day-to-day ways that the pandemic has brought “normal” into question. People are deeply fearful of continually unfolding realities in their employment, their bills, the economy, the food supply, the future in general. Will the virus resurge through the summer or into the fall? Where is this really headed, and how will that impact me and my family?

Health Stresses

We’re all privately wondering, “What if I get this virus?” We’re taking our temperatures, fearful of symptoms, and unsettled by every “tickle” in the throat. Most of us know someone who has been seriously ill. Many have lost someone they loved. The threat is real and always there.

Relational Stresses

Beside these, we are “social distancing”! We can’t even hug a friend! The tangible, encouraging presence of our community of people—friends and church family—has been reduced to poorly-lit Zoom squares or flat FaceTime images. We can see and hear each other, but it’s just not the same. We know we weren’t designed for this!

Spiritual Stresses

And just one layer beneath all of these is the deepest, most haunting question—where is God in all this, and where do I stand with Him? For those without a real relationship with God—either by deliberate choice or by fearful misinformation—the total collapse of every life anchor-point reveals a terrifying abyss of spiritual aloneness.

God’s Four Remedies

Many turn to escapism—addictive substances, etc. Many descend into moping in despair and depression. But the gospel offers us a different set of resources. The hope we have in Jesus speaks precisely to each of these four weights that we’re all carrying right now.

A Promised Provision in Practical Loss

How would you feel about the economy if you were the child of a generous multi-billionaire?

Survival in the first century was precarious! Nonetheless, Jesus literally said, “Don’t worry about it—I’ve got you!” In the gospel, we find absolute care for our every need, no matter how dire our circumstances appear. Matthew 6:31–32—“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”

The remedy? In Jesus, I can gladly say, “I have a wealthy, generous Father—so I have nothing to fear about my practical provisions. Luke 12:32—“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

A Lifetime Guarantee in Physical Loss

How would you feel about being evicted from your home if you were then gifted (free and clear) an upscale mansion? How would you feel about losing your health if you knew you could simply exchange a sick body for a new, ageless one?

Jesus said some remarkable things to believers in Luke 21:16–19—“And ye shall be betrayed . . . and some of you shall they cause to be put to death . . . . But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls.” He was preparing His followers for temporary hardship (even death) by letting them know not a hair of their heads would perish! What sounds like a contradiction is actually a promise of durability stronger than death! He’s saying, “All they can do is kill your body, but don’t fear—they can’t hurt you! They can’t hurt one hair of your head!”

The remedy? In Jesus, the vulnerability of my earthly body is real but not scary, because my eternal body is “waiting at pick-up.” The new one is impenetrable and indestructible. In the gospel, death isn’t the end, it’s merely the exchange.

A Present Father in Relational Loss

How would you feel about being stranded if you knew your best friend could be with you?

Jesus said, “I am with you alway” (Matthew 28:20), and God describes Himself as a “very present help” (Psalm 46:1). He draws near to us when we call upon Him and says that His love begins where earthly love fails (Psalm 27:10). His face is turned toward me. He covers me with His shadow and shelters me under his wings (Psalm 91).

The remedy? In Jesus I am never alone and can run into His presence and bask in the glow of His beauty at any moment!

A Soul Security for Spiritual Strength

How would you feel if you knew you would never lose the things most valuable to you?

Jesus promised that no matter what we lose, we retain possession of our souls! (Luke 21:19) To counter that thought, He also said, “What does it matter if you gain everything but lose your own soul?” (Mark 8:36) In other words, the pandemic is a gift if it shows me that everything in life is fragile except Jesus. To trust Him is to know you are safe and secure no matter what. Though everything in life can come apart, your relationship with Christ holds together forever.

The remedy? Begin a relationship with God, through Jesus, by faith. His gift is free to anyone who will ask! Romans 10:13—“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

My heart breaks for the fear and distress that many people feel right now. Why? Because for the believer, a pandemic is a relatively “minor inconvenience” in contrast to the gigantic promises and provision of God. It’s a departure from “normal”—it’s disruptive, but not devastating. It’s uncomfortable, but not undoing. It’s different, but not debilitating. After all, if I’m trusting Jesus, the worst that life can do is send me into my new body. That’s not something to fear! It’s something to anticipate. If I’m trusting Jesus, losing a loved one is not “goodbye,” but rather “see you soon!”

What to do?

If you haven’t trusted Jesus as your personal Savior, that’s the starting point! Call out to Him and ask Him to save you—not from a pandemic, but from ultimate death, loss, and separation from Him forever. Thank Him for dying on the cross in your place, for facing judgment in your stead, and for offering you His salvation security forever. (For more information on this, read my little book Done—it’s free on the home page.)

If you have trusted Jesus, then let the temporary loss of normal comforts drive you deeper and strengthen your core trust. No matter what, you will possess your soul, so choose patience and endurance. Wait on God with hope and stability. Take up the courage that Jesus offers.

And then share that hope with someone who is floundering in distress right now. Give them DONE. Share the gospel. Forward this post. Someone near you is terrified. You aren’t. So tell them why.

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”—Psalm 91:1–2