Tonight, I've taken a stroll down memory lane to another time and another virus. About 36 years ago, I applied for a job with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The job was in an all-male facility that housed approximately 2500 men incarcerated for every type of crime imaginable. I was smart enough to realize that the environment would lend itself to a certain degree of risk of being assaulted. However, I still needed and wanted the job. My knowledge of conceivable danger was quickly reinforced. One of the questions posed by the panel that did my interview was, "How do you think you would handle being raped?" That's certainly not a question you expect to hear in an interview, but given the work setting, I shouldn't have been surprised. I remember thinking to myself, "I wonder what they want me to say?" After all, I wanted to be selected for the job. My answer was simple, and I confidently said, "I'm sure I would be devastated at first, but life would go on, and I would survive and recover." That must have been what they wanted to hear. And, for the next six years, five days a week, I took the risk of being assaulted, raped, beaten, or even killed. During those six years, two female officers (my friends) were victims of brutal assaults; both were raped and severely beaten. Fortunately, by the grace of God, both survived. Even though everyone was deeply affected, we took those horrible instances in stride, and similar to the military, we chalked them up as hazards that came with the job.
In my sixth year, the medical staff performed HIV testing on the inmate population, and it came back 17% positive. That equated to some 425 men infected by HIV/AIDS. They were not in isolation but quartered in the open population throughout the institution. They were only identified to select medical staff on a need to know basis. At that time, there was very little known about HIV/AIDS and no successful treatment regimens. If you became infected, it was an almost certain death sentence. One drop of blood passing from one person to another was all it took. The question I had answered in my initial interview now took on a whole new meaning. You see, I was confident I could live over being beaten or raped. But, it suddenly occurred to me; I might not survive being raped or assaulted by someone who was HIV positive. After that, every day became a more critical life and death situation. I felt like I was playing Russian roulette with my life, and it wasn't a good feeling. But how could I leave? The pay and benefits were great. I had financial security. But, the bottom line question I had to ask myself was, "Is it worth the risk I'm taking every day?" In that situation, I had the freedom to choose whether or not I wanted to take the risk or walk away. I walked away.
Tonight, as I am typing this note, I am self-sequestered in my home for an undetermined number of days. I'm here because once again, I am facing a possible risk that might mean life or death. Another virus, Covid-19, has invaded our country and is spreading in exponential proportions. At this point, there's no vaccine for prevention and no successful treatment except to stay away from those infected so it won't pass from one person to another. I have four conditions active in my body: an autoimmune liver disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and asthma. Any one of these, along with my age, identifies me as high-risk for susceptibility to Covid-19. On top of that, I take an immune-suppressant drug to keep my immune system from attacking my liver. That basically makes me a sitting duck to catch any cold, flu, or virus that comes along. Hand washing, sanitizing, and precautions are not new to me; they are a way of life. This particular virus attacks the lungs. Being asthmatic, without any medication to fight it off, the probability of survival becomes less and less. As in my experience at the prison, a considerable risk is presenting itself. But this time, I can't choose to walk away and leave it behind. My only option is to do the best I can to avoid it.
But how do you avoid something you can't see? I assume it might be there and take extra precautions. Am I afraid? No. I serve a big God that never leaves me or forsakes me. Everything that is happening now is no surprise to Him. When I first read about the virus in China, I began to pray, and the Lord gave me the knowledge that I should prepare for isolation. I listened, shared it with my family and friends, and began to take action. I've always been somewhat of a prepper, and so for several weeks each time I went to the store, I purchased a few extra items the Lord showed me would be essentials to have on hand. I'm well-stocked on water, food, and medicine. I may not always have what I want to eat, but what I have will keep me alive; oatmeal and beans go a long way. I believe if the supply gets low, God is able and will multiple whatever I have as long as I maintain a spirit of thankfulness. And, I am thankful. I even have a modest supply of toilet paper. Still, if I run out it will be ok, I have plenty of mismatched socks, old t-shirts, worn-out towels and sheets, and a good washing machine. I'm as prepared as I know how to be to remain home-bound for as long as it takes until it's safe for me to go back out in public. I've done what I know to do, and now I have put the rest in God's hands and will stand firm in my faith in Him. I will be fine. Isolation anxiety? Oh no, I may not have kids or family or friends running around in my house, but Jesus is here with me all the time. I'm never alone. And I have plenty of things to do to keep myself busy.
No, this is not just about me. Everyone is experiencing significant life changes because of this virus. Life essential supplies are limited, availability is restricted, and income streams seem to be disappearing. Fear and desperation may be trying to invade your thoughts and overcome your faith—stand firm. Instead of worrying and complaining, be thankful for what you have and believe God will provide just as He promised in His word. He wouldn't have told us "to be anxious for nothing" if He didn't mean it. He knows your need - believe in Him as your source. Turn your eyes upon Him instead of your circumstances, and you will see the salvation of the Lord. Remember, Peter didn't begin to sink until he took his eyes off of Jesus.
My prayer for each of you is that you will use wisdom, be safe, conscientious about others, and carefully consider the risks of this awful virus. Take precautions. Stay at home if you can. Yes, for a while, our comfortable routines are going to be shaken and disrupted. Look at it as an opportunity for something new and different. Enjoy the time with your spouse and children. Turn the television off and put the cell phones down. Talk to each other face to face and cherish this time together. Some are saying, "life as we've known it will never be the same." So what? Life will go on, and we will recover. What we're experiencing is a temporary situation - it's not going to last forever. Pray diligently for the doctors and scientists to have wisdom, knowledge, and insight from God. They will develop a vaccine, and just like treatment regimens have been developed for other viruses, one will also be discovered for this virus.
I'm looking toward an exciting future with high expectations. I believe the outcome will culminate in even better things than we've had before. By all of us working together, encouraging each other, we will get through this. Don't be afraid! The Spirit of God is with YOU. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. And He's certainly more powerful than any coronavirus. And don't ever forget, Jesus loves YOU!
Thanks for checking out my website and coming to my blog page. I pray you will be blessed and encouraged by the things I share. Have a great day! Deb