Thinking Through COVID-19 as a Husband and Father (Part 2)
Missed Part 1? Read it here.
What Should We Do in This COVID-19 Pandemic?
Our world has been turned upside down. Life is abnormal right now. What is God trying to teach us in this quarantine? As I sit here and ponder this question, I can think of six things that I think God is teaching me in this pandemic. These are things that I should always be doing but often neglect, and so I hope this time will help me put things in proper order in my life.
I am a creature of habit. You are a creature of habit. For most of us, our normal routine has been interrupted. And usually, when our routines are interrupted, we quickly become angry. But now is the time for you and me to develop better routines, better rhythms of life. Not just in the temporary, but for the long-term.
1. Remember that ultimately it is God alone who provides for us.
Perhaps you have lost your job due to this pandemic and so you sit at home each day, filled with guilt, perhaps shame, and feel overwhelmed with depression. Some of you perhaps haven’t lost your job entirely, but face some serious cutbacks as your company tries to navigate through the crisis. Others of you may be working in fields that you have seen an increase in hours and income. Regardless of which of these categories you fall in, you must recognize that it is God alone who truly provides for you.
We must learn to depend on the Lord whether there is plenty or there is scarcity. We must learn true contentment not in the things that He provides, but in Him alone. As Paul was writing to the church of Philippi, he was reminded of their concern for him. Listen to his words.
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Our God provides. He will meet your needs. Sometimes in ways that you least expect. As a man, as a provider, sometimes it may be hard to admit that you actually have a need. Men are prideful. Men are often prone to show themselves as independent. Dear brother, cry out to God. He longs to hear your voice. He longs for you to need Him. Cast your cares upon Him. He will listen.
Also, don’t be afraid to make known your requests to your brothers in Christ. God has purposely surrounded you with brothers and sisters in Christ. He has called you to the local church so that we might share life together. Even in the midst of social distancing, we must learn to share life together. Make your pastor aware of your needs. Trust God to meet them.
2. Remember that God is sovereign.
We know that God is sovereign. We tell others that God is sovereign. But if we are honest with ourselves, we don’t always feel like God is sovereign. Perhaps for you, this is one of those times. Sure, you know it factually, but your heart is having trouble believing it. You look around and life seems hopeless. Either you or those around you have lost their jobs. Perhaps you have a family member that is suffering from the virus.
Know this my brother, our God is sovereign. He is bigger than COVID-19. He is bigger than the economy. He is immovable while everything around us feels like shifting sand. He has not been caught off guard nor is He scrambling, trying to determine how to respond. No, He knew long before we did the events that were going to take place. Perhaps you, or your family, or even those around you, are asking, “Where is God in all of this?” Brother, He is near. Find refuge in Him today.
As Pastor Kevin said in a recent sermon, “When God is our refuge, our faith remains unshakable while the foundations of the world are being shaken.”
Our God is a redeeming God. Nothing that has happened, nor will happen, cannot be used by God for His glory and our good. Know that in this very moment, He is active. He is working, and He is sovereign.
3. Draw near to God, specifically through His Word.
Most of us have been greatly affected by this COVID-19 pandemic and find ourselves at home more than in the past. If we are honest with ourselves, our abundance of time and lack of schedules has not drawn us closer to the Lord. More often, the freedom from schedules typically sets us up for wasteful consumption of media. The cliche is true: If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.
If you and I do not intentionally set aside time in this pandemic to read, study, and delight in God’s Word, time will pass us by quickly like sand through our hands. Perhaps most of your days in this quarantine have been just like this. You and I must intentionally read, diligently study, and find great delight in the Word of God if you and I intend to strengthen our relationship with Him.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
—2 Timothy 3:16-17
I’m sure you are familiar with these verses. Sometimes our familiarity with a verse can be our greatest detriment. We quickly skim over the verse since we “know” it. Brother, let the words of Paul here sink in. Our God, in His goodness and grace, breathed out every single word found in your Bible. He did this for your good. This great God, who seems far off, brings Himself near through His Word. He desires to use His Word to cut away from you all sin and hindrances that keep you from a closer relationship with Him. He desires to conform you into the image of Christ. He desires to make you complete.
In a season that seems so gloomy, may you be encouraged by the Word of God today. May you be rebuked and corrected as you read each day. Surely none of us enjoy being rebuked, but you and I desperately need it. Perhaps we’ve become lazy, perhaps we’ve become too busy, or perhaps our lack of digesting the Word of God has caused our hearts to find affections in new things. We need the Word of God to bring correction to our lives.
4. Let your love for your family grow deeper and more genuine.
Most of us, if we are honest, have been lousy in this area. We have often used what little time we have left in the day for temporary, fleeting pleasures. We get home from work, and we want to sit back in the recliner, kick our feet up, turn on the TV, and “relax.” I call these temporary, fleeting pleasures because they aren’t sin, but they can often be huge stumbling blocks for us. We are often oblivious to all that is going on around us. We ignore the not-so-subtle hints from our wife, and we tune out the fights of the children. This is where sin can easily entangle us. We begin to think that we deserve this. We worked hard for this. We earned this. All of those things are true to an extent. But you were called for more than this.
Ask yourself this question. Have I loved my entertainment more than my children’s discipleship? Have I loved fishing, hobbies, TV, cell phone, social media, or anything else more than my child’s discipleship? I can’t read your thoughts here, but if you are honest with yourself, I’m almost certain you will answer, “yes.” “Yes, I have loved the fleeting pleasures of this world more than my children’s discipleship.”
Brother, you and I must turn to Jesus. We must see His sacrifice and learn from it. Don’t wallow in your pity, but find strength and encouragement in Christ. You and I are called to lead our families, not sit and watch as the flames burn. I am guilty of this. Even as I write this article, I have not found myself nearly as productive in this area as I should be. I long for something different but often find myself too lazy to achieve it.
Let us use this time in quarantine to learn to love properly. Our wife and children have been begging for attention. They are in need of being discipled and God has called you to the task. God has prepared the role of husband and father to be one that will lead the family unit well. We often say we don’t have enough time and so instead of settling for less, we don’t attempt anything. In God’s providence, He has given us an abundance of time in quarantine. What will we do with it?
Also, use your time wisely, not just with the spiritual matters, but also the physical. My family has spent more time outside together than we have in years. Nothing special, but find time to enjoy life together. Play a board game together, make a meal together, get outside together, and just sit and talk to each other.
5. Find other men to hold you accountable.
If there is one thing you and I as men often lack in our life, it is accountability. We are often convinced that we can do it alone, fight that temptation alone, and even that we are better on our own. Nothing could be further from the truth. You and I need each other.
God uses accountability in the life of every believer. As a man, you need other men in your life that are willing to love you enough to speak truth in your life. We need men in our life that are willing to ask us the tough questions. Have I been in the Word? Have I been repenting of sin? Have I been fighting the sins that seem to constantly revisit me? Have I loved my wife sacrificially this week? Have I shown the love of the Father to my children this week? These are questions that we continually lie to ourselves about. We begin to compare ourselves to others and conclude that we are doing alright.
But God, in His wisdom and mercy, uses these questions and others, coming from the mouths of trusted men in our life, to work sanctification in our life. Brother, you would do well to find men in your life that aren’t just funny or share some things in common with you, but that love you enough to ask these questions.
As we sit here, bored, stuck at home in quarantine, while our minds are perhaps more idle than usual, it is all the more important that you and I find other men to hold you accountable. You cannot do it alone. God never designed it that way. Seek His wisdom and provision for you through the brothers He has surrounded you with in the local church.
6. Find ways to minister to others.
I think another great question to ask ourselves in this time of crisis is, “Have I loved myself more than I have my neighbor?”
The fields are ripe for finding others in need. Some have lost jobs, some are losing loved ones. Others are losing their sanity. Anxiety and depression are on the rise. This COVID-19 has done well to reveal to us and those around us that we are all vulnerable. That none of us are invincible. COVID-19 does not care about your social status or ethnicity or even your gender. This vulnerability in you should expose your vision to the vulnerability of others.
Let this crisis cause us to foster a greater love for our neighbors. Let us find ways to serve others. Perhaps a simple text or a phone call. I have been blessed in these last few weeks as men have been calling and texting continually asking about my family and me.
Perhaps you can make a grocery pick-up for someone that has a weak immune system. Perhaps someone is in need of their yard cut or just some cleaning up. Whatever it is, find ways that you might be able to minister to others.
As a husband and a father, your ministering to others will set an example for your family. One of the easiest ways you can minister to others is to pray for them. Perhaps with all this extra time, you and your family can pick a family a day to pray for. Then you can reach out and let that family know that if there is anything else you can do, to make you aware of their needs.
If there is one thing that I could say to sum up these words, it would be this: Don’t waste this pandemic. God is sovereign. He is going to work great wonders through these quarantined days. Don’t waste a single day. Use these days to draw closer to Christ, closer to His Word, closer to your family, and closer (albeit 6 feet apart) to your neighbor.