Were you happy to give up an hour of sleep yesterday? If so, you’re decidedly in the minority.
According to a recent survey, only 28 percent of us are pleased with the status quo, while 31 percent would like to be on Daylight Saving Time (DST) all year long and 40 percent would prefer staying with standard time.
Add health experts to those who want time change to end. They say the annual shift disrupts our circadian rhythms and sleep and leads to a higher immediate risk of heart attacks, strokes, atrial fibrillation, and potentially car accidents as well.
According to these experts, eliminating DST is a practical way we can improve our lives in these chaotic times. What about the issue that is far more troubling today?
Italy quarantines seventeen million people
As the coronavirus epidemic continues to spread, we can take practical measures such as frequent handwashing. Health authorities also advise us to boost our immune system with healthy habits and regular exercise and to follow the CDC website and scientists rather than public opinion and social media.
Those who will or might be working from home can take steps to make their experience as positive as possible. We can be proactive now to prepare our home and family, following preventive advice from the CDC.
But such practical proactivity doesn’t feel like enough, does it?
Yesterday, Italy began quarantining seventeen million people in Milan, Venice, and much of the country’s industrial heartland. American churches advised those attending Sunday services to avoid direct contact with each other. Oregon declared a state of emergency yesterday, joining New York, California, Florida, Maryland, and Washington.
Officials estimate that a thousand people are quarantined at home in New York after attending a bat mitzvah and funeral where one person was already infected. And stocks around the world tumbled early this morning, pointing to a Dow Jones Industrial Average opening drop of more than 1,300 points.
“Wallowing in ignorant superstition”?
In addition to the physical and economic significance of the coronavirus epidemic, its psychological impact is escalating as well. One psychology professor notes, “The fear of the virus may spread faster than the virus itself.” He points to the fact that “a decade ago, the threat of swine flu not only increased Americans’ concern about getting the flu—it also increased the perceived risk of getting a heart attack, dying in an accident, or being the victim of crime.”
The biblical answer is clear: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).
However, when Vice President Pence and the coronavirus task force began a meeting last month at the White House with prayer, one website complained that they were “wallowing in ignorant superstition and willful ignorance.”
To the contrary, they were doing what even secular science reveals to be proactive and positive.
Numerous studies show that prayer improves psychological wellbeing and mental health, lessens depression among cancer patients, enables greater cognitive focus, increases self-control and lessens unhealthy behavior, promotes sacrifice for others, and strengthens relationships.
But the power of prayer, of course, lies not in the one who prays but in the One who listens.
Jesus “will not be silenced, packaged, or predicted”
Max Lucado notes: “The Jesus of many people is small enough to be contained in an aquarium that fits on a cabinet. He never causes trouble or demands attention. If you want a goldfish bowl of Jesus, steer clear of the real Jesus Christ. He changes everything!
“No, Jesus doesn’t make you sexy, skinny, or clever. Jesus doesn’t change what you see in the mirror. He changes how you see what you see. He will not be silenced, packaged, or predicted. He is the pastor who chased people out of church. He is the prophet who had a soft spot for crooks and whores. He is the king who washed the grime off the feet of his betrayer. He turned a bread basket into a buffet and a dead friend into a living one. And most of all, he transformed the tomb into a womb out of which life was born life . . . your life.”
Do you believe that Jesus is more powerful than coronavirus?
Do you believe he can heal the sick? Do you believe he can use this disease to show billions of non-Christians that they need him as their Savior and Lord? Do you believe he can empower his people to face this threat with courageous faith that will impact their culture? Do you believe this global threat could spark a global spiritual awakening?
If the answer is yes, here’s the most practical question I can ask you: Are you praying for Jesus to respond to the coronavirus epidemic in these ways?
Will you today?
NOTE: I tweet often through the day on breaking news in biblical perspective. To follow me, go here. Also, my sermon yesterday focused on trusting God’s plan and purpose in chaotic times; I invite you to read it here.