During this time of increased stress and anxiety, I’ve realised the importance of reminding myself of the storyline given by God instead of being consumed by my daily newsfeed. Let me explain…
When Coronavirus entered our headlines in February and March, I was happily indifferent to the news. But in the space of a few weeks, my work and responsibilities completely changed. I soon had responsibility to ensure safety through measures like physical distance, extra hand sanitiser, closure of buildings, and closing All Souls’ activities. (Perhaps your life has been impacted far more, through home schooling, separation from loved ones, work stress and other significant changes.) Yet over time, my active involvement in this new storyline of COVID-19 began to shape my heart.
Recently I’ve reflected on how I was being internally shaped by this constant barrage of negative news. I began to check the news several times a day, increasingly identifying with the negative storyline of announcements, restrictions and diocesan policies. Gradually, I was becoming more fearful, anxious, stressed and less loving. But by God’s help, I can change this trajectory.
God invites us to remember the good news of Jesus repeatedly in our days, identifying with the biblical storyline that Jesus fulfils. I don’t actually need to check the news headlines several times a day or even every day, despite COVID-19 affecting my life. God invites us to keep identifying with a bigger storyline, that has a bigger impact on our lives. Indeed, when I do choose to occasionally check the latest COVID numbers or restrictions, I should do so prayerfully as a participant in Christ’s body and in reference to the Bible's bigger story.
Of course, it would be inappropriate to completely ignore the current bad news and restrictions around us. Loving our neighbours at this time includes staying at home, wearing face masks, and keeping the rules. But at the same time, beware that powerful ideologies can undermine our faith. The constant reinforcement of godless perspectives will increase our anxiety, fear, cynicism, negativity and resentment toward others. But as we read the Scriptures and interpret our lives in reference to God’s grace revealed in Jesus, we should seek the Holy Spirit to increase our love, joy, peace, patience, forbearance, gentleness/kindness, goodness, and faith/faithfulness (Galatians 5:22-23). This is something I need to remember amidst these COVID changes!
Don’t let the current bad stories and headlines consume you. The story of God revealed in Jesus, experienced through the Holy Spirit is our primary storyline. Remind yourself today of the headline of our faith: Jesus’ sacrificial death and glorious resurrection, a past event that changes the future and incorporates us into Christ’s body and resurrection life through the Holy Spirit. This story invites us to actively participate as Christ’s body as we engage with the Scriptures and pursue the true source of our identity, peace, joy, hope, love and life.