The Pandemic Within the Pandemic and more… 1 5/5 (1)

Inspire Encourage

“The Pandemic Within the Pandemic: My Story of Fear and Anxiety” by Laura Tracy.

I have personally lost people I care about to the COVID pandemic. Perhaps you have, too. The healthcare experts describe it as an “epidemic with a passport,” meaning this highly contagious virus has crossed all borders – physical, cultural, social, economic – and has turned our lives upside down. Yet there is another pandemic within the pandemic: one of worry and anxiety.

Both anxiety and depression have surged since COVID-19 spread to the Western world, nearly tripling in US adults from 2019 to 2020 (COVID’s mental-health toll, nature.com). No one is exempt; even pastors and spiritual mentors are being attacked by this mental “virus.”
I know a little about the worry virus, having been exposed at a young age. Raised in an atmosphere of negativity and fear, my mind began an endless cycle of anxious thoughts. I would spend sleepless nights tossing and turning, constantly worrying about the future and entertaining the “what ifs.” My family fell apart as a teenager and we didn’t always have food to eat. I began to question if I could trust God’s provision.

I thought my struggle would cease when I married and started a new life, but that was not the case. The call of God for Jeff and me to become Associates In Missions actually intensified my fear. Far away from family, friends, and church, I felt vulnerable and afraid. I remember kneeling down before an old black leather sofa in our apartment in Germany and crying out to God with tears streaming. My short prayer was simply this, “God, please take this fear away and help me learn to trust You!”

God began to show me that there is a vaccine for worry through the powerful Word of God. As a vaccine teaches our bodies how to fight a virus, so God’s Word inoculates our minds against tormenting fear. Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

Fear is contagious, and I refuse to be a carrier. When I am tempted to worry, I get vaccinated through my favorite scripture, Philippians 4:6-7, which I call my “recipe for peace.” It not only protects me, but it sanitizes my mind and distances me from the contagious fear of others. This is how I speak this scripture into my soul:

“Do not be anxious about anything.”

Dear Soul, this is a commandment from your Savior. If it were impossible to obey, then He would not have put it in His Word. Now, stop being anxious and align yourself with the Word of God!

“In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

Dear Soul, even though God already knows your needs, it is His desire that you ask Him. He has promised that if you ask, you will receive. Believe in His promise! And do not pray with a beggar’s whine, but with a thankful heart, remembering all He has done for you and thanking Him for what He is going to do.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Dear Soul, receive the peace of God, which is a fruit of the Spirit and has been paid for by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Remember the words of Jesus and “let not your heart be troubled.”

Praying the Word of God is our vaccine for worry in troubling times.

Laura Tracy is a talented musician, writer, and mom of two. She and her husband, Jeff, pastor Pentecostal Church in Motion in Nasonworth, New Brunswick.

(Info from: Pure Ministry Newsletter – UPCI Ladies Ministries – ladiesconnections@upci.org)


“The Smoke” by Rachel Coltharp.
Most of my childhood was spent in Texas where, contrary to popular opinion, it can get cold. Most of the time, an electric blanket was enough to keep us warm, but when the coldest part of winter hit, we relied on a woodburning stove in our living room for heat. It was so cold for a few days one winter that my mom nailed quilts to the doors of the living room to keep the heat in that room. My brother, parents, and I put our mattresses on the floor and slept near that woodburning stove.

Oh, that stove—it was a source of both comfort and pain. Coming in on a cold day to its warmth was so nice but stand near it too long and the searing heat of your skirt against your legs would make you jump halfway up to the ceiling fan. And while the romanticized images of a cozy woodburning stove filled many a magazine page, our reality was as far removed from those images as a tattoo parlor and a Mennonite farm.

Many and often were the woodstove fire troubles that plagued our household. When the pipe leading from the stove to the roof got too hot, it glowed red like an ember. I remember being afraid it was going to catch the house on fire, but thankfully it never did. The smoke fumes (my dad often forgot to open the flue) permeated my clothing and hair and were a source of embarrassment. My mere presence in any building was sure to set any firefighter within a ten-thousand-square-foot range to sniffin’ an twitchin’ from the fumes.

I am not one easily scared, but after a close encounter with a gas stove that blew my eyelashes, eyebrows, and the front two inches of my hairline clean off my face, I left all fire and fire-making activities alone. I had seen up close and personal that fire was my friend, but only from a distance. I wanted no part of that stove. And one day, my deepest fears were realized.

I was in my room when a metallic roar, a loud whoosh and deep boom, rattled the house. I rushed into the living room to find my father standing frozen, staring at the outline of a small human sitting in a chair. I knew it was a chair, only because that is where the chair always sat. But now, it was simply the outline of a chair. It was covered entirely with ash. As was the figure of what had to be my younger brother. The gray snowman slowly reached up and felt its head, a black hole forming where the mouth should be, gasping in utter astonishment.

My father, never one to be bothered by non-essentials like instruction manuals, had decided to jumpstart the fire one particularly cold day. In went the wood. In went some kindling. And, to really get things going, in went some gasoline. The combustion that resulted blew the overflowing ash pan out of the bottom of the stove and all over the living room—my brother and the chair taking the brunt of the ash avalanche. Thankfully they were cold ashes from the previous fire.

Why is it that we can whiplash from one emotion directly into another one? We went from fear and horror to hilarity. Well, two of us did. Dad and I were howling with mirth. My brother whiplashed emotionally too. From fear and horror to fury. It wasn’t one bit funny to him!

There are times you look back, much later, and remember an event with a different emotion than the one you felt when it happened. I wanted a house with central heat, but I didn’t need it. I had my wants mixed up with my needs. I needed heat. I hated that stove—hated the smell, hated the smoke, hated cleaning out the ashes. But looking back now, I’m thankful for that old woodburning stove. It provided what we needed.

Many things in my life have looked like a negative, only because I had an ungrateful heart. Some of the smokey, ashy, wintery seasons of my life were, in hindsight, blessings.

I’m getting older now; my bones are getting creaky, my hair has turned silver, my youthful days are behind me. But the creaking and the silver are like the smoke and the ash of that stove: they are simply part and parcel of the blessing of being allowed to grow old. Not everyone gets to. I’m going to count the blessing, instead of cursing the smoke.

(Info from: Pure Ministry Newsletter – UPCI Ladies Ministries – ladiesconnections@upci.org)

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