I was 11 years old when I stood at the edge of the pool in the Opelika Sportsplex, nervously waiting for the volunteer to call out my number. Rocking on my heels, heart racing, breaths coming in shallow puffs, I stared on the black cross at the far end of the pool, desperately trying to find something to help me focus. Two people ahead of me, the next triathlete jumped into the water. Almost there, almost there, then it hit me. A Bible verse I had studied just the past week in Awana class: 2 Timothy 1:7. After the triathlon, the verse became my new mantra whenever I became scared.

“For God did not give us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgement.”

When I was at work last Saturday, I was primarily bringing food out to the customers in line. Chick-fil-A Prattville has been busier than normal after closing the dining room area to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, and we were doing everything we could to stay ahead of the dinner rush. As I hand an older woman her food and am in the process of grabbing the marker off her car, she looks me straight in the eyes and asks,

“Are you afraid?”

A typical, knee-jerk response for me would have been to shake off the question immediately, to give a robotic, “No ma’am, I’m not scared. I trust that God has everything in His control, so I have nothing to worry about” answer.

Instead, I reminded myself that I was scared.

I knew the woman wasn’t asking if I was scared at work. The Chick-fil-A leadership team has gone above and beyond to ensure that not only are the customers as safe as possible but also the employees. So, in the span of mere seconds, I think deeper.

At that time, school was closed until April 6th. I didn’t know if we would return for the remainder of the school year. I had received word earlier that day that a friend of mine in Texas, who is immunocompromised, tested positive for COVID-19.

I’m not blind; I see the news and the statistics, and it becomes harder every day to connect logic to what I hear. I wouldn’t know it then, but in the next week, my stepmom, a nurse practitioner for the Air Force, would enter self-quarantine with my two stepbrothers after being exposed to a patient she treated who tested positive for COVID-19.

However, for every statistic I see, for every death toll rise I see, for every bit of bad news I receive, I watch humanity shine brighter and brighter.

Not soon after we received word that we would swap to online school, I started seeing positivity chain posts on social media. I’ve seen several friends post photos of ways they’ve combated the mundane days of social isolation. I’ve called at least one friend every day and have connected with several more I hadn’t talked to in a long time. I’ve watched countless videos of donation drives people have held, of people applauding medical workers as they begin their shift, of celebration of each patient who recovers from the virus.

To quote Isaac Newton, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” For everything bad that happens, something positive happens.

It’s hard to sit by and be content with the phrase, “Don’t worry, God is in control.” As humans, we are used to being in control, and when He takes the control away from us, we panic. But unlike some drivers on the road, God always has two hands on the wheel; His power is beyond our comprehension, and we have to learn to sit back and let Him drive.

There are rarely moments when God handwaves our problems away; that isn’t the type of King He is. Instead, he grants us the ability to face our problems head-on, and we are seeing just how mighty His power in humanity is this year.

I pray for the doctors and nurses all throughout the world. May their hands be steady, their hearts strong, and their courage unwavering day after grueling day.

I pray for the leaders of all the cities, states, provinces, and countries. May they make the right decisions, put their people first, and keep their eyes on the horizon.

I pray for the teachers everywhere. Though their burdens are heavy, they are a light in the darkness for their students.

I pray for the mothers and fathers of children everywhere. May they continue to be a beacon of hope for their kids and remain strong as they face the unknown.

I’m encouraged by the fact that this, too, shall pass in time. A passage we learned in Mrs. Bowman’s class, Romans 8:31-39, tells us that there is nothing that can ever separate us from God’s love. God has put humanity through trials such as this in the past, and through His strength, we have endured. I believe that, when this passes, we will not only come out stronger, but also kinder.

God did not give us a spirit of fearfulness. He gave us one of power. Of love. Of self-discipline. He didn’t design us to be cowards, to flee at the first sign of danger. Instead, He created us with the capability to adapt, to rise above any challenge. He challenges us daily with new obstacles, big and small, and it is our duty as Christians to meet His call.

I finish grabbing the marker off her car and turn to the woman with a small smile.

“No ma’am, not scared. Just careful.”

Written by: Jenna Stilling
PCA Journalism Student

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