Matthew 6:19 – Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. (NIV)
Did you ever hear about The Great Gold Robbery of 1855? A train shipment of 200 pounds of gold was stolen on its way from London to Paris by four greedy conspirators. When I look back on 2020 and COVID-19, one event will stand out: I call it "The Great Toilet Paper Robbery". It occurred on February 17th when a thief and two accomplices in Hong Kong robbed a delivery man of 600 rolls and sparked a worldwide run on toilet paper. Each time I went to the store, I looked in hope for toilet paper on the barren shelves. I had no luck, until, just as I was about to run out, I found some on the Internet.
Stories abounded: the man who filled a storage unit with toilet paper and other toiletries that people needed, hoping to make a profit with marked-up prices; the photo of a lady standing by her car, with the hatch open, to show toilet paper rolls for $5 each; photos of individuals walking out of stores with carts piled high with 12-packs of toilet paper.
Greed or fear? In the first two stories, definitely greed; but for the last one, I think that it was fear: fear of the unknown, fear of not being able to meet a basic human need, fear of the future. I don't know anyone who hoarded paper supplies, and I don't understand how people could do that, but I imagine that they felt that that was one circumstance in their lives that they could control in a world gone mad.
Isaiah 41:10,13 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (NIV)
The Bible is clear about dealing with fear: the images of God upholding me with His righteous right hand or grabbing my right hand are powerful. But I must admit that there have been — and probably still will be — times when I have been fearful during this crisis. How long will this pandemic last? Is it coming back? Will we still be able to implement our summer recreational vehicle ministry?
Dealing with my fears means limiting what I let into my brain: gossip, rumours, sensational news. Instead, I try to focus on God's Word, biblical literature, prayer, and grabbing hold of that "righteous right hand". My prayer life has certainly expanded! Those of us who believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour know our ultimate hope and future where greed and fear will be unknown. We can find comfort in Jesus' promise to us:
John 14:2-3 – In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (NIV)
Prayer: Father, help us to focus on You during these strange and scary times. Help us not to be disturbed by gossip or speculation, but to read Your Word and focus on Your promises of protection and support. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "I Need Thee Every Hour" (Lyrics)