A Pandemic Through the Lens of The Parables: Part One
Written by Dr. Brenda Neyens
Please take a few minutes and read The Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37. In this parable, which Jesus shares in response to the question “who is my neighbor,” we hear about both fear and genuine concern in response to a tragedy. In this story, two people react by crossing to the other side of the road, while one person draws near.
Through this teaching, we hear Jesus describe the condition of a man who was beaten and left on the side of the road. The original audience would have taken note of the fact that Jesus specifically places this man on a notoriously perilous road. This was a treacherous environment.
Fast forward to our present situation, and the fact that we are facing a pandemic: our increasingly difficult situation. I would suggest that in our present condition that each one of us may have moments in which we identify with that man on the side of road.
Why? Because all of us are going about our own business, and the next thing we know we are individually and collectively in a ditch called Coronavirus. Collectively? While each person is experiencing the effects of COVID-19 to varying degrees, we are also part of the “human hive.” Not only are we trying to take prudent measures for our own sake and for others, we are counting on others to do the same.
All of a sudden, “who is my neighbor” takes on a much deeper meaning. We are in this together for better or for worse. Our neighbor is everyone, and we are counting on each of them. Likewise, they are counting on me and on you.
We have a choice to make. We can feed our fear and cross to the other side of the road when we are afraid, or we can take steps like The Good Samaritan and offer genuine concern towards ourselves and others through our actions. The first option feeds our fear as part of an endless loop. The second choice, by the grace of God, takes the wind out of our fear’s sail so to speak.
When I place myself in the shoes of those who did not help the man in the parable, I can feel myself feeding my fears regarding the pandemic. If I place myself in the shoes of The Good Samaritan, I am trading my fears for genuine concern and I take action. I look for what I can do to help another person.
One way we can lessen our fears is with an intentional counter punch called genuine concern. Through prayer, we can identify our specific fears. By the power of The Holy Spirit, we can name them in order to tame them. After we know what we are most afraid of, we can then take some specific actions, even while our emotions may still be churning. Because if we wait until we are void of any fear, we will never take action. How?
We do acts of kindness, especially ones that fly in the face of our specific fears. We share our assets, our gifts, and our abilities with others. We reach out to those that God has placed in our path, much like the man placed in the path of The Good Samaritan. We help as we are able, and when needed, we recruit others to help as well.
Through all of this, we ask God to help us to experience an important truth. The truth that God has placed neighbors around us to help us and for us to help them in return. This is His design for our lives. God is teaching us how to be neighbors in ways we may have never imagined before this pandemic. Lord Jesus, help us to be neighbors in all the ways that you designed us to be, especially since we are part of Your provision for others. Lord, help us to be more cooperative, more compassionate, and more creative in response to others and help us to also receive their genuine concern.
If you find yourself having a difficult time identifying a plan of action, please send me an email at email@example.com and we will figure this out together. In part two of this series, I will offer some tips on how to calm your anxiety in the face of your fears.
Dr. Brenda Neyens is Spiritual Formation Director and a licensed counselor at King of Kings. Her specialty is anxiety reduction.