"More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ" Philippians 3:7-8
Over the last few days, I have talked with my daughters via Facetime. We all have iPhones. Facetime is a video feature that comes with an iPhone, which makes talking via video so much easier than in the past. Essentially, replacing voice with both video and audio. A real blessing!
As well, my wife Connie and I have noticed we are talking to both sets of our parents more and certainly our brothers and sisters. Most of the conversation is about "how are you doing?" Essentially checking in to see how they are faring during the coronavirus crisis.
We recently talked to a friend; we saw and heard the same things happening to them. Their adult children have moved in for a while, because they are working from home and are escaping New York City where the virus has escalated.
Connie and I have created new routines with most things around us closed. Every day we play cribbage at four in the afternoon. Each day we take long walks. And recently, we started running up five flights of stairs in our apartment building. Ever competitive, to see if we can beat our last time.
In more quiet times we have taken on new hobbies. Connie has started playing the guitar again, and is learning to crochet. I have picked back up my love for two-dimensional art, buying a ruler, drawing pencils, and a sketchpad.
Everywhere in our neighborhood, we see people also taking long walks. During these walks we have met Archie, a one-year old dog, full on energy and love. His owner takes him out five times a day. He is now the mayor of our neighborhood, spreading joy from person to person.
Archie arrived during a tough time for his owner, a woman who had lost her husband. She tells us that Archie has helped her with her grief.
The coronavirus has certainly changed lives. And these are certainly tough times. We can't help but worry about those around us who have lost jobs. We don't have many sick people in Asheville, so the disease is far distant. But we worry about the health care workers and their patients.
We know retirees who have lost a significant amount of their savings, and we also worry about them.
Certainly, we can't go everyplace we would like to go. Movies are out. No more dining out and having a cold beer from the tap. All our places to go are closed.
But the calls from and to family have made me think, what have I really lost? It seems to me that it is more "what have I gained?"
I have gotten to see Mischa, my daughter's new puppy, bounce around. I have gotten to see Dave's homemade corned beef. I have talked with my dad more than anytime from the recent past. His polite voice, always a hallmark, has steadied my thoughts.
I have gotten to hear my father-in-law chide me about my favorite baseball team, the Boston Red Sox. He is a life-long Indians fan.
Through cribbage, Connie and I have a daily competitive battle, watching each other get better, all to learn how to beat one another. Running up the stairs has become a source of competition.
In times of stress, we have turned to prayer, which soothes our anxiety and reminds us that through faith, we have gained a lot. Instead of focusing on the virus, we focus on trusting God.
While we have our concerns about the virus and where the stock market is going, we love this new life we have gained.
I recently had a friend tell me how he was dealing with the virus and its impact. He said: refuse to feed the fear that comes to steal your peace and joy. Rather dwell in the knowledge that every person is so important to the Father that he knows the number of hairs on our head, and every tear we shed. Place your trust in Him.
And that is where we should be. Our fears are real and so is the virus and the heavy financial toll it is taking. But we stand at a crossroad: do we have faith and see the good in life or let fear drown our faith and joy?
I can declare that the virus will go away and life will become normal. Maybe in weeks or perhaps months, but it will subside. Tomorrow will replace today and the steps we take today will decide what tomorrow looks like. We shouldn't let fear strip our ability to make wise choices.
Choices that will help us tomorrow.
Like calling my father frequently. I will always cherish the voice of my father. A voice of reason and politeness. A voice that steadied my ship so many times in life. He is bravely fighting the debilitating affect of Alzheimer's. My moments with him are coming to an end. Instead of fear, I choose to hear his voice. I choose the voices of my children. I choose to race my wife up the stairs and to win that game of cribbage. These are moments of joy and not of fear.
I choose God over fear.
Bruce Hartman is a Christian author who, after more than three decades in the business world at companies like Footlocker and Yankee Candle, obtained a master's and doctorate degree in ministry. He is the author of "Your Faith Has Made You Well," writes devotions, and hosts a podcast.