Four Common Feelings in a Pandemic

"On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, 'Let us go across to the other side.' And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, 'Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?' And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Peace! Be still!' And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, 'Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?' And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, 'Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?'
- Mark 4:35-41

The spread of COVID-19 has brought much of our world to its knees. Though our specific circumstances look different, all of us feel isolation, sadness, anxiety, uncertainty, confusion, and fear-- maybe even anger. To some degree or another, these feelings are all captured in this little story in Mark 4.

How Mark 4 Speaks to Four Common Feelings During COVID-19:

1. Uncertainty - "This Came Out of Nowhere"

When the disciples set out to head to the other side of the sea of Galilee, there were no storm clouds in sight (Mark 4:37-- the windstorm "arose"; Matthew 8:24 it came up "suddenly"). This storm came out of nowhere. Much like this worldwide pandemic, the disciples are suddenly faced with a powerful storm they can hardly process.

We never know what could be around the corner in our lives. A potential storm could arise at any moment for any one of us. Because of sin, we live in a "post-Genesis 3" world; a world with tornadoes, pandemics, tragedy, wars, and sorrow. As a result, everything--including our lives is fragile. If we are to have any true security in this world, we cannot look to this world.

2. Frail & Fearful

Events like a global pandemic or a Galilean storm remind us how fragile we really are. We often underestimate our own frailty. But circumstances like our current crisis remind us these often forgotten biblical truths: we are "a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes" (James 4:14), "a breath whose days are a passing shadow" (Psalm 144:4), and that all of us are "grass that withers and dies" (1 Peter 1:24). Moses encourages us to regularly remember this truth when he says "teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12).

Fear is all over the Bible. David is constantly pleading in the Psalms for the Lord to deliver him from his fears--often physical harm (see Psalm 34:4; Psalm 56:3-4; etc.).

But for believers in Jesus, fear doesn't have the final word. We have the hope of an empty tomb. Because Jesus has risen from the dead, even death has lost its power (1 Corinthians 15:55). Romans 8 says that for all those whose trust is in the Lord Jesus Christ, "all things work together for good" (v28) and that "nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (v39)--not even a financial collapse or a pandemic. We have a virus-proof, market-proof, and death-proof hope.

Because of this, we can face even the hardest of circumstances with deeply anchored confidence in God. The one who trusts in Christ "is not afraid of bad news, his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord" (Psalm 112:7).

These disciples rightly understood the magnitude of the storm. What they missed, however, was the magnitude of the one snoring in the stern.

3. Isolated & Sad

You and I weren't made for Netflix. Even in the rise of 4K high definition entertainment, we still feel a need to connect with each other. Why?

Because we were made by a relational God as relational beings.

If you feel isolated and sad you aren't alone. Jeremiah was thrown in a pit (Jeremiah 38), Isaiah was always ignored (Isaiah 6), Daniel sat alone with only a few ferocious felines (Daniel 6), and Paul was a familiar face around the Roman prison system (Philippians 1; 2 Timothy 4). In the end, these figures endured because they had a hope that was secured by God.

Ultimately, Jesus secured that hope for us at the cross. He experienced isolation from God when he cried out "my God, my God why have you forsaken me" (Matthew 27:46). He experienced the deepest of sorrows and isolation by absorbing the wrath of God against sin so that we might be forgiven (Colossians 2:13-14). We can have hope in this season of isolation and sadness only because of Jesus' isolation and sadness for us (see 2 Corinthians 5:21 & Galatians 3:13).

Because of the hope of the cross, one day we will be fully reunited with God in heaven (Revelation 21:3) and in a similar sense fully united with others. Together--without sin or its effects--we will see His face (Revelation 22:3-4).

So when you feel isolated and saddened in this season, let that lead you to cry out for the true and final end of all separation and sadness at the return of Christ. For this reason, we pray even now in this moment, "come Lord Jesus...come very quickly" (Revelation 22:20-21).

4. Angry & Confused

Over the last few weeks, I've heard people say "I'm confused...even angry"--perhaps even at God. Circumstances like this lead many to say "why is this happening?"

This is exactly what the disciples felt. They ran to Jesus and said, "don't you even care?" To some degree, they were angry because they thought God was unloving toward them. They were confused. If Jesus cared so much...why would he be asleep?

But Jesus took this opportunity to teach them--not about meteorology--but about himself.
What Jesus taught them was that he was the King even during the confusion. No storm clouds caught him off guard. The disciples were about to find out that even the wind and the waves obey Jesus (Mark 4:41).

Jesus told them nothing about why this happened...but he did show them who was in control. The storm was an occasion for Jesus to display his glory, his power, and his care.

Jesus was in the boat with them--even if they didn't fully understand Him. At the time they didn't understand it, but their security was not ultimately in the buoyancy of the wooden boards that held that boat together. Their security was in the one who upholds the universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3).

This is really good news in a pandemic. If you are united to Jesus by faith, the commander of the wind and the waves is in your boat...or better are in His. While we don't know how long the storm will last, or how much damage the boat will take, we know this: we are secure for all eternity and nothing will happen to us outside of the power of God's sovereign control.

Wooden fishing boats, socially distanced quarantines, and government stimulus packages can't provide us with real lasting security. But, just like the disciples eventually came to understand, we know the one who can.

1 Comment

grace - April 7th, 2020 at 3:02pm

love this Micah!!!