This Christmas, though the second year in a row that is celebrated in the pandemic, seems different, doesn’t it? Covid is no longer a new “thing” we are learning to deal with, this year it is simply a nuisance that won’t go away.
Part of the hyper-awareness is the media, but a far more curious reason is our own inability to put it in its place. As a population, we have allowed it to consume us as we read and hear about it on television, social media, computers, podcasts, and radio. We cannot get away from a story or opinion or recommendation. It is exhausting and the American population, in my opinion, is mentally and psychologically exhausted trying to keep up.
Like anything else in our lives as Christians, perspective matters.
PERSPECTIVE #1 – Fear is not born of the Holy Spirit
Attack fear head-on. Fear is a fickle enemy. In some ways, fear allows us to preserve our own sense of wellness – the instinct to not put ourselves in danger for instance is healthy. However, a fear that is nondescript and vague is a clear indication that you are listening and placing your hope in something other than God. Scripture calls us to “take our thoughts captive” and not allow our thoughts to take us captive (2 Cor. 10:5). There are times we must simply stand in the fight and remind ourselves that God does not operate in fear. Covid fear is a ploy of the enemy to keep you bound in a flurry of the unknown. Instead, focus on the known. Focus on what is true. Turn your gaze to God and let Him fill you with joy and confidence.
PERSPECTIVE #2 – Our Focus at Christmas Must Be Intentional
Especially during this time of familial animosity and disagreements that Covid has enflamed, it is doubly important that we focus our hearts and minds. Philippians 4:8-9 reminds us how to focus our minds. What we consider and allow to consume our mind matters. The great joy of following Jesus is that when we don’t know what to do we can simply obey what he as already instructed us to do – “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things”. When we do this, his promised result is realized in our hearts and minds, “and the God of peace will be with you”.
PERSPECTIVE #3 – We have Hope Beyond our Culture
Gift-giving at Christmas is part of the magic and wonder that is the holiday season. And we have chosen to do so as a way of celebrating the birth of Jesus, without whom the world would have no hope. It is a time to be with family and set aside all other cares that this world throws our way. Our culture will steal our joy and will replace our hope with tension, malice, and doubt to the extent we allow it. But as Christians, we are able to live in this world – a world that is filled with competing loyalties. We live with Covid the same way we live with any other malady that comes our way, with common sense and a knowledge that Covid is not the end. The Christian’s hope lies beyond the reach of a respiratory virus. It is a hope rooted in the victory of Jesus Christ, regardless of what the world and its germs hurl at us.
Awareness of a virus that affects so many is important, but it is not something to live in fear about. As you celebrate Christmas, I hope you do so surrounded by family and loved ones, with the shrieks of children and laughter with brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and grandparents as you tell stories and reminisce of years past. I hope you find that your hope is centered and your fear is put out to pasture where it belongs.