This is a very uncertain moment for our world as we collectively respond to this new coronavirus and its growing spread around the globe. In my lifetime, there has not been a pandemic that has so gripped our attention and impacted us so greatly. I am trying hard to understand the rapidly changing news, as I’m sure you are, and at times it can feel overwhelming. We are sharing this moment together and at the same time, it feels deeply personal as we wrestle with our own thoughts, fears and choices in the midst of this global crisis.

As we look to respond to all that is happening around us, I believe it is so important that we draw near to God to seek his wisdom, comfort and strength, and to his Word for guidance, assurance and courage so we respond as our faith would call us to respond: To be compassionate to those who are suffering or fearful; to be generous to help where we can; to be discerning and share our faith with those who are looking to God for answers; to fervently pray for those in authority; to rest in God’s protection and sovereign will; to be courageous to support family and friends; and so much more.

It is natural for us to feel afraid. God understands. There’s a reason the Bible is filled with instances of him telling his people not to be afraid, because he knows we are human:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

God wants to cast out our fears with his perfect love (1 John 4:18). And as we surrender our fears to him, he replaces them with his comfort and peace – a peace that comes by trusting him.

In this moment of uncertainty and crisis in our world, I would encourage you to look to God and ask him how you can respond in faith and to be a witness for him. We can easily be consumed by all that is going on, but it is at moments like this that God calls us to be courageous. Maybe you can reach out to someone you know who is alone and scared with a word of comfort and prayer. Maybe take time each day to check in with friends, family members, neighbours or co-workers so they’re not spiritually and emotionally lonely at a time of quarantines and isolation.

This is an ideal time to deepen our relationships and an opportunity to find new ways of interacting with one another to strengthen and encourage each other.

If you’re home with your family and you're unsure of how to fill the time – especially as we enter into the spring break – I want to offer you some ideas:

  • Our list of over 100 mealtime questions can be pulled away from the dinner table and used any time you feel like getting a conversation started. Questions like “What kind of music best describes how you’re feeling right now?” or “How would you have passed the time with Noah’s family and the animals on the ark?” can reveal all sorts of insights with children of all ages. (And if it’s just you and your spouse, you can check out our list of 100+ heart-to-heart questions!)
  • If your children are between the ages of three and 10, our free Kids of Integrity lessons offer lots of great craft ideas, Bible stories, sample prayers and more that will make teaching godly character traits to your children fun! Our lesson on adaptability, for example, provides a how-to on “changeable artwork” using milk, food colouring and dish soap. Our courage lesson gives discussion questions to dive deeper into David’s courage in the face of Goliath. And our lesson on compassion highlights helpful prayers you can teach your children for showing mercy to those around us in difficult times. You can download all our free lessons at Kids of Integrity!
  • If you’re looking for entertainment that doesn’t involve screens, I’d suggest listening to our Adventures in Odyssey audio dramas. You can purchase CDs or digital downloads at our online bookstore or listen to recent episodes for free on our radio website. We regularly hear about how parents who listened to Whit and the gang as children are introducing this series to their children, and the whole family is loving it! Even though our biggest fans are children and tweens, we also know of many young adults who still enjoy the stories at college and parents who are eager to hear how each story works itself out.
  • Another great way to reconnect as a family – and choose joy in the midst of uncertain circumstances – is to bring out the board games! If you’re anything like my family, you have a stack of games tucked into a cupboard somewhere collecting dust, and this is a great time to bring those out and have fun. If you’re lacking a variety of games, you can look online for different games that use a simple deck of cards or you can check out our selection of games available for purchase at our online bookstore. You and your family can create great memories playing games like Dutch Blitz, Bible Bingo and Jonah, Go Fish!
  • I find one of the best ways to combat fear and uncertainty is to spend time in God’s Word – and doing so as a family can be a great example to set for your children. Being able to see God’s provision and faithfulness throughout Scripture is how we can hold onto the truth that he is in control and is our refuge. We have a few new Bible devotionals that can also help you go that much further in learning about the Bible and applying it to your life and the lives of your children. The Family Bible Devotional provides you with 52 Bible readings paired with discussion questions. Psalms for Little Hearts is a great way to get your younger children started on their Bible reading with 25 rhyming paraphrased psalms. And Preparing for Easter guides families with teens and young adults through Scriptures paired with C.S. Lewis’ writings.

We want to help your family thrive, even in the midst of these uncertain times. If you need additional help from one of our counsellors, or you’d like us to pray for you, please reach out to our care team at 1.800.661.9800 and we’ll be happy to be there for you with kindness and a listening ear.

At Focus on the Family Canada, we as a team are lifting up in prayer those who are personally affected by the coronavirus, especially our most vulnerable populations; those who are serving on the medical front lines providing health care to the sick; those who are feeling the effects of fear and anxiety; and those who are lonely and isolated. I would ask that you join us in prayer for those in our local communities and those in our global community. Right now, more than ever, we need to set an example of God’s love, mercy and compassion in the midst of fear and panic.