Dear Abby: Letter to a Young Mother
March 23, 2020
(I received a note from a young mother (Abby is not her real name) who is concerned about the coronavirus pandemic and what it will mean for her children. Here is my answer.)
I have taken extra time to answer your note because this has been a crazy week for all of us. In all my years I can’t remember any time like this. The coronavirus pandemic feels like a tsunami that keeps building as it rolls across the globe. One wave hits, then another and another and another. Each day brings news of spreading sickness, new death totals, and rising confusion, fear, and panic.
As I write these words, whole countries are in lockdown. Americans have been told not to travel abroad, and Americans in other countries have been advised to come home.
Whole countries are in lockdown
Schools are closed, restaurants are closing, sporting events have been canceled, large assemblies are forbidden, and we’ve all learned about “social distancing.” Some cities (including where we live) are under a “shelter in place” order, which means you stay home round the clock, with only a few specified exceptions.
I know you know all of this, but I pause to consider the irony of it all. Some people wonder if God can still speak to humanity today. If there was any doubt (and there wasn’t), now we know the answer. God doesn’t need a missile or a bomb to get our attention. He doesn’t even need a hurricane or a tornado. All he needs is a tiny microbe, so small that it is invisible to the naked eye. That little microbe has brought the world to its knees.
I don’t blame you for being worried.
I don’t blame you for being worried
You’re not the only one. We all feel shaky these days. So much has changed so fast that it feels like what we used to call “normal” is gone forever. That’s why we are sheltering at home when we’d rather be going out.
We’re in the middle of 15 Days to Slow the Spread of the Coronavirus.
No one knows if it will work or not.
What a crazy time to be alive.
But here we are. You said you’ve been reading the Book of Revelation lately. That’s a good idea because Revelation gives us the big picture about the return of Jesus to the earth. Someone wrote a gospel song called, “I’ve Read the End of the Book, and We Win.” Catchy title, but it would be better to say, “I’ve Read the End of the Book, and He Wins,” because that’s the real message of Revelation.
Everyone on Team Jesus wins with him
Since he is the Captain of our Salvation, when he wins, everyone on Team Jesus wins with him. That’s a truth we need to keep telling ourselves in this uncertain time.
The bad guys won’t win.
Evil won’t win.
The virus won’t win.
You mentioned that you think things are going to get worse. Who knows what we or our children may face? This virus is serious business. Beyond the physical toll lies the mental, emotional, and spiritual cost of day after day of fear, confusion, and panic. The economic cost is almost beyond calculation at this point.
I’ve heard people say, “God’s got this,” and they are right. He does. When we say, “God’s got this,” we don’t mean it will be easy or quick. But we do mean there will be an end, and it will come in God’s time.
That is the heart of our Christian hope.
Your children belong to the Lord
That’s why you can raise your children with confidence. After all, they are God’s children too. It’s not as if you are all alone. Take a moment to read Psalm 127-128, where children are called a heritage from the Lord, a reward from him, like arrows in the hands of a warrior, and like young olive trees growing around your table. Your children belong to the Lord, and he loves them even more than you do.
That’s why we can live without fear in these unsettling days. Does that mean nothing bad will happen to them? No. Does that guarantee they will never be touched by the troubles of this world? No. But it does mean your children are in God’s hands, and he promised to take care of them.
Raising children is like planting seeds in your garden. Every seed is a statement of faith that better days are ahead. It reminds me of a quote attributed to Martin Luther about what he would do if he knew the world was going to end tomorrow. “I would plant an apple tree today,” he replied.
We don’t know when Jesus is coming. It could be today or tomorrow, or it might not be for a thousand years. The signs all around us lead us to believe we are living in the Last Days. But no one knows the day or the hour of the Lord’s return. I think it is near, and I hope it is soon. But whether near or far, we know Jesus is coming again.
Until then, let’s plant seeds of faith, hope, and love.
Let’s raise our children for the Lord.
Let’s plant seeds of faith, hope, and love
That’s what you are doing.
Abby, we are so proud of you!
Keep walking with Jesus, keep that smile on your face, and keep planting those seeds. You’ll be glad when the harvest comes in.
You said you feel unprepared for the days ahead. Most of us feel the same way. But if harder days are ahead, we won’t have to walk through them alone. We have God’s Word, we have the Holy Spirit, we have the body of Christ, and we have the word of the Lord who said, “I will never leave you.” The virus can do many deadly things, but it cannot separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In that confidence, we will march forward with faith in our hearts, with a song on our lips, and with the joy of the Lord as our strength.
Abby, you were made for days like this. Here’s a motto for whatever lies ahead:
Rest well tonight. The Lord is on your side.