Billy Hallowell: Amid coronavirus chaos, here are 4 essential truths we should remember

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As corona-chaos continues to ravage the nation, many are flocking to stores to purchase toilet paper, water, food and supplies. Others are self-isolating out of fear of exposure — and still others somehow remarkably remain unconvinced that there’s anything at all to worry about.

No matter where you are on the wide spectrum of corona fear and consternation, one fact is indisputable: the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) has everyone talking.

It’s understandable why this relatively elusive illness is dominating headlines. The new strain is startlingly dangerous to elderly and vulnerable populations — and it’s spreading like wildfire.

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Quarantines are in effect in cities, states and various countries, and health officials are releasing rampant and seemingly endless statements urging the public to take caution. Italy has essentially experienced a total shutdown, major sports are postponing their seasons and churches are canceling weekly services.

Travel, too, has become unrecommended and even difficult in some sectors, with cancellations abounding. Meanwhile, the stock market has been plummeting, sparking global fears.

In summary: there’s not been anything quite like this in most of our lifetimes.

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We’re like deer in the headlights as we watch and observe it all. Fear, for some, has become the driving emotion amid uncertainty. But as we navigate the chaos, let’s remember some essential truths and realities.

1. Coronavirus Doesn’t Discriminate

First and foremost, coronavirus doesn’t discriminate. In a world in which we’re too often positioned to focus on, exploit and trump our differences and divides, this illness puts everyone on an equal playing field. We’re all at risk, with the elderly and infirm among us the most susceptible to serious complications.

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Very few struggles in life are equalizers, yet this one most certainly is, with people of all stripes falling ill. Just consider the fact that mega-actors Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson tested positive, as did Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The vicious spread is one that places every single one of us on a relatively equal plane, forcing us to consider our common humanity and, if we’re truly honest, the things that unite us.

So, why does that matter? Well, America is at her best when we collectively become a house united and tackle the challenges in front of us as a cohesive front.

Sadly, in recent years we’ve so splintered that it’s hard to remember what this sort of coalition looks like, with remnants of the post-9/11 reaction of intense unity buried somewhere in our distant memories. The question we face right now: can we — and will we — rise to the occasion?

2. Coronavirus Can Teach Us Some Powerful Lessons

As people panic and prepare, it’s easy to ignore or look past the fact that we’re truly in this together.

In an era of toxic politics, hatred, anger and division, the horrific assault of coronavirus on the global community is an opportunity to not only reach out to help one another but to also think more deeply about our common humanity.

Our politicians, presidential candidates and former front-runners are already doing their usual squabbling, finding ways to make this virus a wedge issue that can benefit whichever side of the aisle they fall on.

But we should each make an effort to transcend that chaos and, instead, pause, reflect, pray and consider how we can take this time to recalibrate and focus on what’s most important.

Beyond that, we should each consider taking a moment to find elderly and immune-compromised people in our communities who are afraid or unable to venture out for groceries and supplies and help them. Let’s each ask what we can be doing to help the afflicted.

Lives are on the line, people are scared and the last thing we need to do is politicize tragedy in an effort to win votes. We’re better than that and we should call our leaders to the same standard.

3. Now Isn’t the Time for Politics

The coronavirus is hitting us in the middle of what is sure to be one of the most heated election seasons imaginable. And rather than offer healing, some leaders have decided to mix politics into the toxic amalgam of chaos that we’re all currently experiencing.

Let’s not fall into that trap. Let’s instead make a commitment to come together to tackle these problems, to help the afflicted and to turn to prayer for healing and a stop to this illness. There is plenty of time for politics, but this — without a doubt — is no time for grandstanding and electoral fighting.

Lives are on the line, people are scared and the last thing we need to do is politicize tragedy in an effort to win votes. We’re better than that and we should call our leaders to the same standard.

4. God Has a Plan

Finally, God has a plan. We can’t always know what, how or why, but we can know that He has our best interests at heart.

Life doesn’t always go as planned; we have no guarantees — but when things go amiss and when frustration and fear creep in, we must remember that we serve a God who deeply loves and cares for us.

There’s a 30,000-foot view we can’t see because we’re in the trenches, but we can trust He’s got us.

So, rather than allowing fear to overtake us, let’s turn to prayer and to Jesus’ commands that we love God and love others. People will no doubt have many questions about coronavirus, its manifestation and why this has been allowed.

As people of faith, we should recognize that questions about life, death and meaning will likely be intensifying amid this uncertainty. It’s our job to be ready to have those conversations.

I’ll leave you with a Bible verse to ponder.

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God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. -- Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV)

Let’s be better.

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