Everywhere you turn, you find good advice concerning the terrifying coronavirus that is sweeping the world and producing global fear. Brilliant health experts are advising us daily how to avoid this deadly disease.

Taking this advice seriously, and at the insistence of our family, my wife and I are hunkering down for whatever spell is necessary to guard our health. At age 88, we would be foolish to do otherwise.

Like everyone else, I am looking for words of comfort and reassurance that will help us deal with fear. The Bible, of course, is a great help for many of us. It is comforting to remind ourselves that the God who “created the heavens and the earth” is still the ruler of his world.

This is a great time to sing the great hymn, “This is My Father’s World.” Our heavenly Father is the source of love and life. It is not his will that people die of sickness; otherwise, his son Jesus would not have gone around healing the sick during his earthly ministry.

I have found solace in these unsettling days by reminding myself that while one day I am going to die, God has given me the blessed assurance that my Lord Jesus has prepared a place for my soul in the Father’s house.

The Bible calls that place “a house in heaven not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” While I am not eager to die, I know that this world is not my home so until he calls me home, “my heart will go on singing and with joy I will carry on!”

My friends Ed Williams and Jere Beasley share daily online a word of Scripture and a comforting thought or a brief prayer that blesses hundreds of people. A few days ago, this one winged hope into my heart:

“When Jesus woke up [in the storm-tossed boat], he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Silence! Be still!’ Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.” — Mark 4:39.

“O God, my Father in heaven, give me faith to believe that Jesus can calm my heart and help me through my storms. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.”

That day I found it helpful to ask king Jesus to calm my heart and remove from it any fear of the coronavirus.

The power of Jesus is greater than any plague the devil may release in the world. How do I know that? The Bible “tells me so.” Faith is strengthened by remembering what John said: “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” Yes!

Uniting people

Like most people, we find it strange to be confined to our home for weeks. Isolation on such a large scale has made the world much smaller. The coronavirus pandemic is not merely an American problem; it is a problem for humanity.

Globally, the fear of this awful virus is uniting people of all nations in a common search for deliverance. One’s religion, or political alignment, pales in significance, forcing people of different persuasions to work together in a common cause. Hopefully, once this problem is past, world leaders will see other creative ways to work together.

Not wanting to become couch potatoes, my wife and I have asked what we might do to help others while sequestered in our home. Dean said with a laugh, “I’m glad we like each other since we must be together 24-7!” I agreed with a smile.

One idea of helping others that came to us is this: Make telephone calls to the elderly, offering words of cheer, comfort and hope.

The virus is highly contagious, but it cannot be transmitted through the telephone! We know this can make a difference because we have experienced it.

Several friends have telephoned us, and others have emailed us, asking “Are you and Dean OK?” That simple gesture blessed us so we have called several elderly friends to share our love and concern. The elderly, after all, are the ones who are at the greatest risk of dying from exposure to COVID-19.

As Dean and I were discussing “helping somebody,” she recalled a time 60 years ago when we were dining in the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans and heard the singer Roberta Sherwood singing in the Blue Room.

We can still close our eyes and remember her singing the poignant words of one song that found a home in our hearts:

If I can help somebody as I pass along,

If I can cheer somebody with a word or a song,

If I can show somebody he is traveling wrong,

Then my living shall not be in vain!

Then my living shall not be in vain,

Then my living shall not be in vain!

If I can help somebody as I pass along,

Then my living shall not be in vain!

If I can do my duty as a Christian oft,

If I can bring back beauty to a world up wrought,

If I can spread love’s message that the Master taught,

Then my living shall not be in vain!

May I humbly suggest that your living will not be in vain if you will “help somebody,” an elderly family member or friend, with a caring phone call until this perplexing time is past.

Whatever the outcome, this too shall pass. Until that day, let us do whatever we can, as long as we have breath, to help somebody. That will be the best use of our time no matter how much we have left.

Walter Albritton is a Methodist minister and writes a weekly column for the Opelika-Auburn News. Contact him at walteralbritton7@gmail.com.

Walter Albritton is a Methodist minister and writes a weekly column for the Opelika-Auburn News. Contact him at walteralbritton7@gmail.com.

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