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VOCA founder Dr. Chip Roper is joined by our principal consultants Ken Kinard and Sarah Evers, to discuss the impact of the Coronavirus and where we can turn for hope and practical wisdom.

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Thoughts and Perspective

PERSPECTIVE An Upside Down World:  It seems as if the whole world has been turned upside down this week. All of us went from heading off to work to saying home, one after one hundreds of gatherings and events were canceled,  many of us saw our net worth dramatically decline, and we are moving closer and closer to a city-wide lockdown.  If you're like me (Chip), it is hard even to know where to start processing all this. There are personal implications; my wife is still recovering from surgery. My daughter is in LA, her job being shut down, college classes being delivered digitally.  There are business concerns, trips canceled, work postponed.  And there is a spiritual struggle—how to find God and a measure of peace in all this chaos.    As I've been reflecting, garnering counsel (by phone!), and praying, several threads have emerged.   

1.  This Is A Test Of Faith.  For some reason, the following Proverb has come to mind often during the last week: "If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small." (Proverbs 24:10).  These certainly qualify as days of adversity. It's hard to focus on anything but the crisis. I realize that much of my wellbeing is circumstance determined. Discouragement and fear can easily take hold. This season is a time when the nature of hearts is revealed when the anchors we turn to for security and peace are exposed.  The following quote from A.W. Tozer reminds me to take a rigorous spiritual inventory.   "Everything is safe, which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe, which is not so committed."   Faced with such uncertainty, perhaps we will be drawn into a more profound and more specific practice of surrender.  This is a season to grow more profound faith in God's goodness and care in the face of considerable uncertainty.   

2.  Prayer. The intense ripple effects of this global pandemic bring us face to face with our limits as creatures. This can drive us to pray in heartfelt and fresh ways.  We must: 

  • Pray for wisdom for ourselves—each of us needs clarity regarding what we can do to be God's women and men for our families, colleagues, and neighbors at this moment.  
  • Pray to offload our fears (Philippians 4:6-7 and 1 Peter 5:7)  
  • Pray for God's intervention. On my run on Friday, as I looked over the whole city (in the park near where I live we can see from World Trade to the Upper East), I prayed for mercy for our city.    
  • Pray for our leaders (See 1 Timothy 2 and Romans 13), they are working overtime, and they are making decisions that drastically affect us all.  They are doing so in a climate of deep distrust and polarization.  We pray for peace, order, and wisdom.  
  • Pray that God's people represent him well, not with selfishness or with unhelpful public statements, but with winsomeness and compassion.   

3.  Staying Home is About Loving Our Neighbor. Our call to love our neighbor means we should do as much as we can to protect the weak and vulnerable. This means we each circulate as little as possible.  In days to come as the extent and fallout of COVID-19 become more and more clear, we may be called on to greater investment and sacrifice. For now, the best thing we can do for our neighbors is to stay away from them.  

4.  Friendship. Even in a time of social distancing, we still need each other.  Check-in with your friends, take time to ask your work colleagues how they are doing, how they are coping. Be honest about your fears and anxieties.  Lean in because where two or three are gathered, Jesus is there (even virtually)!