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My thoughts and opinions have taken many twists and turns about what is happening in our community with the Coronavirus.

At first, I was rather flippant about it, even pious, thinking how silly all the hype was
and that I was somehow “more” or “better” since I refused to get caught up in it all.

As the week went on, it wasn’t as easy for me to feel so unattached.

My awareness of how the virus was impacting those around me made me further analyze my take on it all.

Regardless of the accuracy of the threat of the virus,
what is indisputable is that for weeks to come,
you and I and 
those in our communities
may be facing some difficult times.

For example, my daughter Emily, a college student majoring in musical theater, has had all her shows canceled.
Emily and a group of her classmates had been working for weeks on a show that they created.
I heard one of the pieces and it was so beautiful.
Their show will never be seen.  That is so disheartening for them.

My other two college kiddos have also had all events canceled.
These things are part of their grade, part of their college experience to prepare them for advancement
into their next year of college. All three of my college students are now having to do online college.
For a young person, this is difficult.

Imagine the elementary student, who now is at home instead of school,
who may have seen school as a refuge from the chaos or abuse in their home,
or whose only hot meal was the one they got at school.

Our local hospital has experienced damage to their facility as people have literally ripped hand sanitizer
dispensers off the walls.  This puts a financial hardship on our hospital as they pay for replacements,
repairs and employee time to deal with the vandalism.  This, of course, being the least of their worries.

People are going to be suffering with a loss of income and many small business owners may not make it through.
Parents are dealing with childcare issues with schools being closed, possibly missing work, therefore missing income.

I am not trying to be dramatic.  These are real
issues that are happening in my community.

I could continue with some very sad lists of how lives are being impacted.

Fellow Christian, shall we see this as an opportunity to tune into the Holy Spirit?
There is so much opportunity for our faith to grow and
for our compassionate, gentile God to be magnified.
There is so much opportunity to pray and do for others.

First, shall we acknowledge that there is and will continue to be suffering around us?
I am not comfortable ignoring it or being flippant or pious about this like I was in the beginning.
Let’s not be that way.  You may be unaffected, but someone around you IS being affected.
If you know my family, then you know someone being affected!

As Christians, we are called to be compassionate and harmless.
Having an attitude that we don’t care or that we think other’s fear is ridiculous is not
going to help us be a light to permeate through the fear in those around us.

Fear hath torment. (I John 4:18)
Our mockery of their fear is not Christ-like.
This is an opportunity.

Above I listed a few hardships, but why not ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see the spiritual and physical needs of those around you?

Ask the Holy Spirit what words you can say to comfort that stranger or to plant a seed of hope in their heart that one day may lead to their salvation.

Are they terrified? Talk to them.  Maybe they will reveal why.
Maybe they have a child at home with a disease that makes them extremely vulnerable,
so they fear they will bring home the virus as they buy groceries for their family.
You could say, “I will be praying for your child’s safety…what is their name?
You could pray right there!  Wouldn’t that be better than scoffing in your heart at their fear?
This is an opportunity.

Maybe God puts a church member on your heart that you know does not have the strength
to fight the crazy grocery store crowds.  Call them.  Do they have what they need?  Opportunity!!

Our workers in the medical field are going to feel burdened and overworked if they don’t already.
Pray for them.

Our teachers are now trying to teach online,
something they may have never done before and may not be trained to do.
Pray for them.

The college students lives' are in an upheaval with these huge changes to their college experience,
especially seniors.  Students are being sent home all over the country.  Pray for them!

Our local cashiers at the grocery store, who we see every week, are probably overwhelmed!
I go in to shop for 30 minutes and am upset to see the result of fear around me.
Our cashier friends are there for 8-9 hour shifts every day.  Pray for them.
Let them know you are praying.  Ask them how they are doing.

We can pray for our local business owners that their businesses will survive this ordeal.
Pray that they will trust God for provision. Opportunity!

Pray for our leadership as they have to make decisions they have NEVER had to make before.
No one in our community has ever done this before.  These are real people.
Individuals that are responsible for large groups of people.
Imagine the pressure they are under to try to serve the community
in the safest way possible.  Let’s pray for them.

We will help the cause of Christ if we decide to see our responsibility in this current crisis.
As soldiers in God’s army, we are never off-duty and should never be only focused on “our own.”
We are to be compassionate and harmless.

We are to draw people to the peace and joy of Christ
that exists even in the presence of trials.

We are to take off our blinders and see how we can
be vessels to draw souls 
to a relationship with Christ.

God uses trials as opportunities to draw people to Himself.  Let’s be vessels He can use.
I am not just talking about a gospel presentation.
There are so many other things in between.  God speaks with a still, small voice.
Listen carefully to what He is asking of you.
Does He want you to pray?  Does He want you to take action?  Does He want you to speak for Him?

Lastly, this strange turn of events is also an opportunity for you personally to grow your faith,
as you may end up being tested in your ability to trust the Lord.  We all fluctuate in our faith.
You don’t know how you will be affected by this.
For any of us to think we are untouchable to any risk is prideful.

You also may be tested in your attitude.
I sure have learned a lot from my attitude and I have to continue making adjustments
to conform back to a Christ-like mind.  I have judged many people and have said things
that were not compassionate.

Let’s remember how Jesus viewed the people around Him.
He was moved with compassion! (Matthew 9:36)

If someone is experiencing so much fear that they are acting irrationally,
then we should be praying for them to come to know the One who is in charge.
If we have the opportunity, we should offer them Truth that will comfort them
and draw them to the Savior.
A judgmental attitude is not going to draw them to Christ, nor will
it draw US closer in our walk with Christ.

Nothing on this earth is happening just to happen.
No event is exempt from having an impact on people’s lives in eternity.
Everything in our lives has meaning.
Not one of us has a soul more important than another.

I had to deal with my flippant, pious attitude,
as God showed me my responsibility to be compassionate,
blameless and harmless to those in my community.  God showed me I am
to take action within myself, to control my thoughts to be free of judgment,
and to instead be seeking opportunity on how I can be a light for Him.
God has called me to pray, to speak when He prompts me,
and to take action if He leads me to do so.

Please examine your heart.  If it is like mine was, it needs an attitude adjustment.
You and the Holy Spirit can work that out together.

This turn of unusual events is part of our story.
And our story should always draw others
to the One Truth, Christ.

Let’s be vessels of that Truth, not obstacles with attitude.

We are always to be a light for Christ.  We are never off-duty.
Let us strive to use our minds, our words, and our actions to never hinder that light.

We may be told to become more and more isolated with further restrictions imposed in efforts to protect our community.
Just remember prayer has no boundaries and God has no limits!

**If you need encouragement that your prayers for complete strangers can make a difference, please read this post called Within His Reach.