I am by no means unique; I am just one parent among millions throughout the world with sons and daughters treating affected patients. The obvious concern is that our loved family members are in increased danger of contracting the virus itself. It is alarming to know that many medical professionals in Italy and elsewhere have died.
However, their health is not our only concern. The lockdown has left our children in isolation, restricting practical and emotional help and depriving normal motherly interaction. This could go on for many months. The demands of the heavy workload, long hours and intense pressure mean that I want to be right by my daughter’s side. What will I do if she becomes ill – would it be fair to leave her in isolation? I guess that both my daughter and I will need to find a way of coping with any challenges that emerge.
Someone asked me for my perspective as a Christian mother:
“How do you cope in knowing that your daughter (who is an A&E hospital doctor) is one of the frontline workers in dealing with the effects of this virus?”
Firstly, I know that she is doing the job that God called her to do and I am pleased that she has a desire to help relieve suffering and maintain life. However, many health workers abroad who died were also fulfilling their calling. Do I need, therefore, to spend the next few months in a state of anxiety and distress? Is there anything that I can personally do to protect my child from what is potentially a life-threatening scenario? Here is the strategy that I have decided to adopt1:
1. Concentrate on Prayer
Over the past few days, the prayer of King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20 has helped me. Finding himself and his nation (Judah) surrounded by a vast and overwhelming army, he cries out, “Lord, we have no power... We do not know what to do but our eyes are on You”. Humanly speaking, he was facing disaster! He called his people to come together to find help from the Lord.
Regarding COVID-19, I feel utterly helpless. I do not know what to do. But, my hope has to be fixed on the almighty God, who is my heavenly Father. I can pray or I can worry. Worrying will lead to panic whereas praying will lead to peace. I have a choice!
Of course, this approach is thoroughly recommended by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4: “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 minds in Christ Jesus.”
2. Control my Mind
The process of writing this article has sharpened my focus on the “what if …” scenarios that have been latent in my mind. However, I realise that I must bring these stray thoughts into captivity. In many verses in the Bible, we are encouraged to “set your mind”, such as “on things above”.
Anxiety drives my imagination out of control, and I fixate on worst-case scenarios. I could easily let coronavirus destroy my peace! Allowing the pandemic to take mastery over my mind leads me to choose fear over the promise of my Father:
'For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind' (2 Timothy 1:7).
I have to refuse to let my imagination play with Rachel's future. That future is ordered by God and nobody – not even a mother – can guess it.
Someone has said that the definition of anxiety is imagining the future without Christ. Coronavirus without Christ in the equation is truly terrifying. Perhaps the definition of hope, however, is not imagining, but knowing, the future with Christ ministering to our needs.
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
Like most NHS workers, my daughter would consider that she is only doing her duty and would shun being called a hero. She counts herself as a professional doing her job. Please pray for all our NHS workers at this difficult time – we are all most thankful for the fact that we have such an outstanding service.
Perhaps some of the readers will be directly involved, or will have family and friends on the frontline. Some will have the added concern of having a vulnerable child or an aged parent at home. It will not necessarily be easy and there will be times when the natural instinct, for people like me, will be to worry. But, knowing in our heads and our hearts that this battle belongs to the Lord, may we all lift each other up to rejoice, even through trial, so that the authenticity of our faith— more precious than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire— may result in praise, glory, and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
- I was inspired by a sermon by Dr David Jeremiah