The TV has been buzzing with the news that the city of Jacksonville, Florida, USA and others have opened their beaches for certain hours after the complete shut-down due to the Coronavirus. People were asked to “social distance” and to “not group together.” After weeks of confinement and lost jobs and businesses, people took to the beaches like they had been caged animals. This could tell us something about the need to socialize…the need for fresh air and the beauty of nature. It could also tell us that we Americans really don’t like to be told what to do…even if it is for our own good.
This was evident, when groups of people went out in different cities to protest the “stay at home” mandate. Their main goal was to get America back up and running again so they could go back to work and feed their families, pay their mortgage or car payments. Nevertheless, most didn’t adhere to wearing a mask in public, as asked to do. They crowded together while they shouted their demands with little concern for their own health or welfare of others. They were willing to “take a chance.”
Americans like their freedom of speech and nothing is being said against that, but one would hope that there would be, along with the speech, common sense, dedicated carefulness, and a little less selfishness toward others. Nonetheless, “taking a chance” is part of the indiscriminate, so-called invincible young. “What could possibly hurt us?” they may be thinking. “Doesn’t that apply to the elderly or those sick? Hey, we work out! Even during the stay at home rule, we jogged miles each day. So, we’ll take our chances.”
Let’s just say, it is the American way…for life, sickness or death. The roots go back to the American Revolution, when we fought for independence and government control from England. Just as the people of Hong Kong are standing their ground against Communist dictatorship and oppression, Americans don’t sit still too long…for good or for bad. It is of great concern when a mayor or governor begins to tell the people to watch out for their neighbor and “report” any violation of the coronavirus mandates set up for general guidelines. Would we sit still for that kind of instruction?
It reminds me of the time I visited a place in Poland. I had taken American students to Europe under President Eisenhower’s program, Student Ambassadors. As we entered this large house that had been divided up into small apartments when the Communist took over, an older woman was peering out a small window in her door. I asked about this to our guide. She said, “Oh she is a left-over from the old Communist days when her duty was to report who was coming or going! She still thinks she has to keep watch.” Are we slowly moving in that direction in our country…or our world? This is certainly a chilling thought.
Unlike the protester holding the sign above, we know the Coronavirus is real and not imagined. That is most evident by the sickened and deaths. Life, however, is full of taking risks. The protester is taking his own risks. We make decisions everyday that will turn out for the good or the bad in our lives. This is what personal freedom is all about. Whether our government gives advice for personal protection, or family, friend or neighbor weighs in, it is still up to us to govern our activities. Some things will kill us. Our decisions might be made out of fear, which may kill us mentally and emotionally. Most people are like herds of sheep. They follow what others may be doing instead of thinking what is best for themselves or their family members not old enough to make decisions on their own.
What to do? Pray…be rational…act carefully…be considerate of others and yourself may be a few suggestions. As I contemplate on the famous words of President Roosevelt, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself,” I believe he was right to warn the American people of this dilemma…FEAR.
The Holy Scriptures tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7:
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind
Power is a word that we don’t often associate with ourselves. We think of powerful people in business or industry…or in the political realm. You are powerful over more things than you may imagine…your health, finances, professional choices, love relationships and more. This verse says God has given you power.
We have been told recently that many people are dying from the coronavirus because of their underlying health reasons. These may have been related to overweight, diabetes, heart-disease, drug addiction etc. which have put them in a weaken state. In many of these cases, it was personal choices to not care for their health which they could have had power to correct. In other cases, it was lack of proper nutrition.
Have you ever heard people say that God is punishing us with disease and our lives as a world or nation? I really cringe when I hear these comments because God is a God of love and concern for His creation…including men and women. He will not interfere in our own decisions , whether it is from lack of knowledge or carelessness.
Our world has a natural science…in our environment and our personal lives. If we eat too much, we get fat. If we ignore safety rules, we have accidents. Behind the obesity comes the health problems. We also learned about our own power through other tragedies, such as the Great Dust Bowl of 1930’s. Men had power to do the right thing for the land, but did not understand science or did not look into the consequences of their actions. In either case, the results were financial ruin and the spread of disease.
The Dust Bowl was not only one of the worst droughts in United States history, but is generally thought of as the worst and most prolonged disaster in American history…The prolonged drought was made much worse by a fundamental misunderstanding of high plains environment, and the utilization of methods which called for a thin layer of dust to be purposefully exposed on the surface for large parts of the summer. Dust transmits influenza virus and measles and combined with the economic depression, the Dust Bowl period brought a significant increase in the number of measles cases, respiratory disorders and increased infant and overall mortality in the plains. 11
God has given us love..from Himself and for each other. When difficulty comes, we find out what we are made of because we strike back at fear. The medical teams and first responders who move around the sick and dying are showing God’s love whether they realize it or not. Some may say, “It is my job.” Even here, a person could decide that taking the risk of their own lives is not for them and walk away from the challenge. They could turn their backs on the years they had put into preparing for their profession because of fear. Most do not.
The neighbor who reaches out to those needing help during the crisis is showing, not fear, but love…God’s love. We know that we are His Hands…and we are His Face of encouragement.
To have a sound mind is also to have self-control, which has its origin from a Greek word:
The Greek word for self-control is sōphronismos, which means “saving the mind” or “moderation”. Since the word SELF-CONTROL contains the word “self”, I am quick to interpret this to mean something I have to do. However, within the context of verse 7 of Timothy, we see that “God gave us a spirit of…self-control.” 12
We, then can depend upon God to give us these three things instead of fear, Power, Love, and a Sound Mind. It is His promise to you and me when we trust Him now and in the future. It is more than “Taking a Chance,” it is FAITH and good sense.
(This writing was taken from the book, Faith and the Pandemic by N.W. Boyer to be released soon by Amazon.)
FDR’s 1st Inauguration Address…A Voice from the Past, after the Great Depression… A message appropriate for TODAY. (From HistoryMatters.com The full text and a 3 minute portion of the speech. Roosevelt’s Speech