Have you had a Coronavirus meltdown yet? Today I had an ugly cry in Coles. I am feeling pretty embarrassed about it. As I jostled my way through the crowds and past empty shelf after empty shelf, I felt myself growing increasingly anxious. We have 5 children. They eat a lot of food. I noticed new limits on frozen vegetables and pasta, although those shelves were long ago cleared out. I tried to adjust my meal plan as I went to account for what I could buy. Eventually I unloaded my groceries onto the conveyer belt, my massive pile of milk first. We go through a lot of milk. We all drink it, either straight or laced with coffee, and we all eat cereal. In a normal week I buy about 14-16 Litres of the stuff. The polite young checkout man stopped me. “Sorry”, he said, “we now have a 2-item limit on milk”. “On milk?” I asked, shocked. He apologetically assured me yes, on milk. I asked if I could at least swap two of mine for the 3L ones and he said I could. As I dashed back through the shop, I felt the tears start to fall. And then a sob, and then many great, big, ugly sobs. I tried to pull myself together as I came back, but it’s very hard to clean up an ugly cry when you’ve run out of tissues and you aren’t meant to be touching your face!
I think we all have had a moment like this in the past few weeks, although perhaps yours was not quite as mortifying as mine. We keep hearing how unprecedented this season is, and that’s because for us, it’s true. It’s not surprising if we are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, tearful or fearful. The temptation to worry is perhaps bigger than it’s ever been for us as a society. I think my tears arose out of this feeling of lack of control, that I can no longer assume I can provide even the most basic of things for my children. And sometimes my mind skips to the weeks and months ahead: how will I possibly home school them all without destroying our relationship? How will my elderly relatives and friends survive? Will my husband keep his job? Will there be another great depression?
The thing is, of course, my sense of control was only ever an illusion. While I’ve always thought that I trusted God with everything, that reality hasn’t often been tested. Here and now is my opportunity to actually put that faith into practice. Can I take Jesus at his word in Matthew 7:25-34 that I don’t need to worry? That our heavenly Father, who feeds the birds and clothes the flowers will also know my needs? That I am so much more valuable to him than these? Will I, with the psalmist of Psalm 46, be able to confidently claim that God is my refuge and strength, my ever-present help in trouble?
The virus is called a coronavirus because of the crown-like spikes on the surface of the cell. It’s wearing a crown. This virus is a wannabe king. It has the power to make people fear it, to have it rule over their lives. But we Christians have a far greater King. The only true God, who reigns over all the earth. Over every country, every person, every cell. I know these moments of emotion will come. I will cry again when I am overwhelmed. I will read the news headlines and feel my pulse rising. I will wake in the night and the fears will creep in. But I can take these feelings to the Lord who is King of all. This virus will not rule me, because I am ruled by my gracious saviour King who is with me through this and every storm this life may bring.