In times of stress and trial, it is tempting to allow our instinct for survival to kick in.
Do I have enough food?
Do I have enough supplies?
Will I have enough resources to last until…?
Of course, our instinct to survive is a natural response and can be helpful in times like these. We follow directions to practice good hygiene, we socially distance from our friends and family, and we make sure we have what we need for a long stay indoors; however, when we actually do have enough, this instinct to survive can take on a less helpful form, increasing fear in the name of self-preservation.
Fear is also a natural response to crisis, and we must allow for its presence with a sense of compassion – the situation we are all facing is unprecedented and unknown. Many of us have a legitimate fear for loved ones, friends and neighbors, and legitimate worry over the impact on our economy and government. But of what benefit is it to us or to the world, if we surrender to fear, and close our hearts off in the midst of crisis? This only leads to disconnection and throws us into a hellish reality of neighbor against neighbor.
Our calling as people of God is much greater. We are called to be people of love and compassion, especially in times of trial and suffering. This is the example Christ gave us during his life on earth – He aligned himself with God in such a way that he could perfectly face the trials of life while exemplifying the virtues of peace, love, charity, compassion even to those who ultimately killed him.
Compassion is the mode in which we are able to reach out to those around us – to those outside our homes, outside our families, beyond our neighborhoods, beyond our borders and even beyond our categories – to all beings everywhere, recognizing each as a unique creation. When we show compassion, we reflect the image of God who is the very essence of compassion and the source of all life and love.
In these days of uncertainty, fear may be present with us and that’s ok. But instead of remaining in fear can we also awaken compassion in our hearts and continue to open ourselves to our neighbors? Who is our neighbor? What does it mean to love our neighbor? How can we be loving and generous to those in need, especially in these times in which when we are unable to be physically present? These are questions we must all ponder in the coming days, weeks and months.
My prayer is that we would continue to find new and creative ways to show love to our neighbors in these uncertain times. May we give hope to the hopeless, show compassion to the vulnerable, and overflow with generosity to those in need.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear… 1 John 4:18
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Brian Petersen grew up in San Diego County and was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. He served in the Marine Corps and later became involved in youth ministry and music ministry while attending Azusa Pacific University. After graduating from APU, Brian moved to the Pacific Northwest and attended seminary at Golden […]
Peter arrived from the Diocese of Iowa after retiring in January 2016. Following graduation from Nashotah House seminary in 1984, he served parishes in Davenport, Trinity Cathedral; Durant, Iowa; and Clinton, Iowa as well as ELCA Lutheran congregations in Princeton Iowa, and several interim settings in the “Quad-Cities” Iowa/Illinois region with the ELCA. Having been […]