Dec 15, 2020 • Written by Becky Kopitzke
Wisconsin is currently a hotbed of COVID-19. We’re clocking anywhere between 4,000 to 7,000 cases a day right now. And among the unlucky ones to catch the bug?
I’ll spare you the details of our lovely situation, but I will tell you ours was thankfully a mild case. If we hadn’t been in the swirl of a worldwide pandemic, I would’ve mistaken our symptoms for a run-of-the-mill cold. Considering others haven’t been so fortunate, we’re aware of God’s mercy on our household and thanking Him for it.
I’ll also tell you that the worst part of this virus was not the headache or the fatigue, nor having to quarantine during a week of record-breaking gorgeous fall weather. Such a bummer I couldn’t take my dog for a walk in the last taste of 70-degree sunshine we’ll see ‘til May.
In fact, the worst part for me wasn’t the virus at all.
It was the social confusion.
As soon as you mention you’ve caught the plague, or even just been exposed to it, people form opinions. Some people freak, others just shrug their shoulders, like so what? Big deal.
And some people judge you for getting it.
Admit it, now. Some of you… and I love you just the same… read that my family has COVID and your first fleeting thought was, “They weren’t careful. They should’ve prevented it.”
And I’ll confess I might’ve had that same fleeting thought about other people before my family took the hit.
My family, who wears masks and washes hands and hasn’t sat in a restaurant since March.
And I’ll even confess to you I’ve wondered why the virus couldn’t go to somebody else instead, like the people who think COVID is a hoax or the kids who attend COVID parties. They’re just asking for it, right? Why don’t THEY get it and not us?
Ah. Because. It’s a virus. It doesn’t pick sides.
But we sure do, don’t we?
A year ago I would’ve told you my community… my hard-working Midwest town, our churches, our schools… were defined by common values and respect for one another.
But now? All I see is division. Sadly it’s just a small reflection of what’s happening nationwide, as Americans—believers included—stand polarized by their stance on a virus.
And I wonder if our behavior toward each other is quite possibly doing as much damage as the disease.
We all have opinions, and we’re entitled to those. But how do we move forward when our opinions cast a cloud over our relationships, our emotions, and our hope?
Today I don’t want to fight over your opinions vs. mine. Honestly? I don’t even know where I stand on this issue half the time. I can see some semblance of reason on both sides. And I’ve got the virus running through my body, for crying out loud. Instead, the most important words I feel compelled to share today—the only words that can truly make a difference—are the ones that don’t come from people, but from God.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)
“Therefore let us stop judging one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” (Romans 14:13)
“So then, let us pursue what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Romans 14:19)
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4–5)
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
What does love look like in a pandemic world? The same as it always has, don’t you think? Let kindness be your default. Forgive offenses quickly, repeatedly, through God’s strength, not our own. Give other people room to wrestle with the issues, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Teach our kids to do the same.
It’s hard, I know. I haven’t handled the conflict all that well myself these past few weeks and months. But I want to try. Because if having coronavirus has taught me anything, it’s that the devil is at work among us. He thrives on division and arguments of all kinds. And we need to rise up and fight, not against each other, but against the division itself.
We are still God’s children—united in Christ even as we disagree on masking, quarantining, testing, you name it. We can’t forget Christ is SO MUCH bigger than this virus.
So let’s keep His Word—His opinions, which are the only real truth—front and center and allow them to sink into our bones, our beliefs, our actions and our conversations.
It’s the only way to get through this—together.
I’m praying for all of us, for our families, our hearts, our health, and our relationship with God. My house is past the worst of it, and our kids are headed back to school where I’m still grateful they get to meet in person and experience some degree of “normal,” whatever that means. Let’s remember to make brotherly love part of our daily normal, too, amen? I’m counting on us—the Jesus people—to make a difference in this world.
*This post first appeared on beckykopitzke.com