Everyone is stressed by the Coronavirus. And it’s not caring or helpful if someone tells you, “Don’t be afraid—have faith in God.” Unfortunately, great Bible verses are getting misused to say that. This leaves people feeling judged or like they need to put on a happy face.

After the Coronavirus hit I started having stress reactions. I was distractible and continually checking the news. I was irritable.

Mostly, I got busy doing my regular work and activities. The world was going crazy and I wanted not to be disrupted. I pressured myself to perform.

Your stress reaction might be different. On our “Soul Talks” podcast Kristi shared that her stress reaction is to scurry around doing all she can to be helpful to people.

A stress reaction shows we’re overloaded and probably denying our troubled emotions. Our personality has gotten off kilter.

To calm down our stress reactions we need empathy for our underlying emotions. We need the emotional hug, validation, and courage that comes from being listened to by a friend or journaling a prayer.

How are you feeling in this Coronavirus pandemic? You may relate to feelings that Kristi and I shared on our podcast:

Discombobulated by the news, cancelled events, and being hunkered down in the house.

Afraid for loved ones who are vulnerable to get sick with COVID-19 virus.

Frustrated with sick people who don’t stay home and expose you or your loved ones.

Worried about financial losses.

Tired and flat, even after a full night’s sleep.

Sad over lost opportunities.

Some people think it’s “a downer” to verbalize emotional distress and ask for empathy. Or they judge it as weak, complaining, or selfish. If you take responsibility for your emotions and appreciate the person who listens then it’s an expression of authentic, healthy faith in God.

Faith in God is not opposed to emotional distress. We don’t develop strong faith or courage by denying our emotions, vulnerabilities, and needs. It’s the opposite.

Look at Jesus as he cried out to God in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42), the Psalmist in his prayers (e.g., Psalm 55), and Naomi when she was pouring out her grief to Ruth and the Lord (Ruth 1:20-21; 4:14-17). These are a few of the Bible’s pictures of emotionally honest faith and real courage.

When I received empathy about how the Coronavirus was affecting me it gave me perspective and strength to pray differently.

I asked Jesus, “Lord, what would you do if you were me?” I was able to be still and listen. My heart and mind were more cleared up to hear God’s voice.

This helped me enjoy a Sabbath day with my family.

Also, I sensed the Lord guide me to focus Soul Shepherding’s ministry to support you with how the Coronavirus is affecting you emotionally and spiritually. And how it’s affecting the people that you care for and lead.

Together we can grow in emotionally honest, faith and courage. We can draw close to Jesus and minister his compassionate presence to people around us.

How are you serving God this week? Talking to a friend on the phone. Preaching a sermon. Serving a customer. Providing food for children who are missing their school meals.

Whatever you do, it’s an opportunity to offer the warm-hearted empathy of Christ.

Bill and Kristi will go live on Instagram and Facebook to talk about “Empathy and Faith for Coronavirus Fears” on Thursday (3/19) at 4pm PST.

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Listen to today’s SoulTalk: As we face the realities of Coronavirus, each of us has a different response to the stress. We can be sure of this: God wants to care for us, whatever our emotions. Naming our emotions with others and with God ultimately orients and strengthens us. In this episode, Bill and Kristi have a biblically grounded and empathetic conversation on the importance of integrating our faith and feelings in a time like this.