Originally published Saturday, 11 April 2020.
If someone in your household is a first responder, health care worker, in the food industry, a trucker, or mechanic (and many others I haven’t listed) they are essential for keeping our society functioning. Most of our “essentials” are working long hours, minimally staffed, and dangerously exhausted. We are praying non-stop for God to grant them immunity and supernatural endurance.
For the rest of us staying home because we have “non-essential” jobs, I just want to affirm what you are doing. You may be anxious about how you’re going to survive this crisis. If you’re a stay at home mom you may be doing the same things you always do, only with a lot more challenges. Or you might be married to an “essential” and feeling somewhat unimportant—yet working harder than ever to keep them going from home.
No matter who you are and what you do there are a host of people who rely on you. Even if you think no one knows or cares what you do. You may not be earning a paycheck, but that doesn’t make your work any less valuable. God created each of us to fill many roles—mother, father, teacher, mentor, musician, writer, nurse, pastor, friend, prayer warrior, or encourager. You’re probably doing several of those every day.
I applaud the amazing examples of generosity, courage, and creativity—sewing face masks, delivering meals, dance-off visits to grandparents from across the street, phone and internet encouragement and counsel, and uplifting videos taped at home. Non-essentials are finding new ways to support front-line workers, while keeping themselves and their kids safe and educated, without forgetting the need for fun and laughter to boost morale. Washing extra clothes, preparing meals, home schooling, running errands, cleaning, and finding new outlets for exercise are just some of the duties of those at home.
As I searched the Bible for direction and comfort, I found four things God says are essential:
1. Stop fretting and listen
When Jesus and His disciples stopped to visit Lazarus, his sister Martha sprang into action. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet drinking in His every word, while Martha busied herself preparing a feast. If you’re a Martha like me you completely get why she was angry and asked Jesus to tell her sister to help her with the work. Jesus’ response is a splash of cold water on an overachiever’s fire.
“The Master said, ‘Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her’” (Luke 10:41-42, Message, emphasis mine).
Whether working outside or at home, it is essential that we take time to sit down with Jesus every day and listen to Him—through scripture, music, and His servants. Instead of fussing and getting worked up over COVID-19, it is essential for us to listen to and trust in Him.
2. Fight the battle with prayer
“God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out” (Ephesians 6:16-18, Message, emphasis mine).
Prayer is the second essential—our weapon against spiritual forces planting fear, and promoting greed and division among us. We need to pray for front line workers and those striving to find feasible treatments for this virus. And we need to pray for the discouraged and grieving whose faith is at the breaking point.
3.Concentrate on what benefits everyone
“Remind the people to respect the government and be law-abiding, always ready to lend a helping hand. No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous….Take a firm stand on these matters so that those who have put their trust in God will concentrate on the essentials that are good for everyone” (Titus 3:1-2, 8, Message, emphasis mine).
We need to model respect for our leaders and what they’re trying to do to protect us. It’s time to be generous and kind, and take a firm stand on the truth that God cares about those suffering.
4. Live like today’s your last day
“Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but we’ll hardly notice. We’ll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness” (2 Peter 3:11-13, Message, emphasis mine).
There’s no better time for clean living than now. Not self-righteousness, but wholehearted devotion to our Savior Jesus Christ. Despite the suffering, we still have a reason to celebrate. It doesn’t matter if we can’t physically gather in our newest pastels, or host Easter egg hunts and family meals—Jesus is our Risen Lord! And He is coming again for all who believe in Him.Jesus’ death paid the penalty for our sins, and He proved himself God over all when He rose on the third day. Faith in Jesus is essential to give us hope today, and forever.
Beth Vice is a wife, author, speaker, mom, mother-in-law, grandma, and Jesus seeker. She loves taking care of her husband Kelly and the home they share on the Oregon coast. She teaches their Sunday morning small group and leads critique workshops at Oregon Christian Writers conferences, where she serves as the In-Person Critique Group Coordinator. Beth has six books currently available and is working on the next two—a divorce recovery book for women and a Bible study on Revelation. Beth has a heart for women; she has found new delight in leading retreats at she and Kelly’s vacation rental at Black Butte Ranch, and wherever else God might lead her. She blogs at Epiphany: http://www.bethvice.com/. Beth loves getting outside for hikes and gardening, but prefers snuggling inside with a good book or coffee with a friend, in nasty weather.