– Ben Martens

COVID-19: Part 4

I’ve now completed two weeks of working from home and it doesn’t feel like we’re at the halfway point yet. I’m seeing more and more empty shelves from people panic-buying and most of the world is still firmly on the path of exponentially increasing case counts.

But before I talk about any of that, let’s stop and be thankful for a few things:

  1. There is a huge shortage of things like bleach, toilet paper and hand sanitzer. But not only are the local stores not jacking up the prices, they’re keeping their normal sales! I saw a shelf that said “please limit yourself to 2 items” right next to a “Buy 1 Get 1” sign. Capitalism (or price gouging depending on your position) is rampant in the secondary markets, but it’s worth being thankful when you pay $2 for a loaf of bread instead of $200.
  2. As Tyla and I discussed the “crisis” and “emergency”, it dawned on me that I’m sitting on a couch, watching TV on a projector, enjoying a full stomach and a heated house.

That list could go on and on and I think it’s important to regularly enumerate your own reasons to be thankful, especially in this scenario when it’s so easy to focus on the negatives. Keep those reasons to be thankful in mind as we dive into the reality of the situation…

I’ll throw a very uneducated guess out and say that around Tuesday of next week, we’ll cross one million cases world wide (assuming we have enough test kits to prove that.) [UPDATE 3/20: Oops, when I made that estimate, I forgot that China’s cases aren’t growing at the same rate anymore. That means we’d cross 500k around Tuesday and it takes us until the end of the week to get to a million.] This is going to get worse before it gets better. The one page of data that I keep going back to is one compiled by Mark Handley: Every country is following the exact same growth rates, and, aside from China and South Korea, nobody looks to be anywhere near having this under control. Buckle up, we’re just getting started.

Locally, it’s hard to get a grasp on how seriously people are taking the social distancing. For example, this photo gallery shows a lot of empty scenes where normally there would be crowds of people. But if you drive around during the day, there are plenty of people on the roads.

As an elder at church, I’ve been in a lot of discussions about what to do with our services and how we can continue to minister to people as our ability to meet is restricted. For now we’re moving to having small devotions with individual families and doing more online. We’re also discussing how this will affect Easter because it feels very unlikely that we’ll be back to normal by April 12.

At home we’re continuing to make changes and lock it down. Tyla is starting to get into a routine doing her best to homeschool Elijah. What a blessing to have a wife who went to college to be a teacher! We’re also blessed to have a supportive school providing us with lots of materials.

Last fall we booked a vacation that we’ve been dreaming of for a long time: Disney Aulani. We spent a long time deciding if we were willing to spend that much on a vacation, but once we pulled the trigger, we were very excited for it. We were scheduled to leave a week from Saturday. Today I canceled the trip. While we are bummed to miss out on this, I’m very thankful that with the exception of the airline, we got 100% of our money back. And the airline changed their “sorry you bought a nonrefundable ticket” policy to give us a credit that can be used through the end of the year. So I’m trying to view it as “Hey, we have a gift card for a free flight to Hawaii and back!”

There are an infinite number of unanswerable questions about what the next couple months will look like. Personally I’m focusing on a lot of prayer, doing the best I can to make sure my family stays healthy both physically and mentally, and making sure we have food to eat. Time spent being anxious is time that would have been better spent praising God and trusting him to care for us.

Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

2 thoughts on “COVID-19: Part 4

  1. Dudley

    You know that “back to normal by April 12” hasn’t been possible since your mother was born.

    The ramifications of our response to this virus will be interesting to assess after the storm passes. I think part of the panic is the inability of people to differentiate “infected” and probability of dying.

    Thanks for reminding us of the promises our almighty and unchanging God has given us. They are true and sure, when times are casual and when they are intense.

  2. Pingback: COVID-19: Part 5 – Studio711