“Can you go to the supermarket now and buy a few bags of rice? Supply is depleting from the shelves!” my husband said, in a concerned manner.
It was the day major news outlets had just reported that Singapore’s Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level had turned from yellow to orange, indicating that the disease is severe and there is a moderate to high public health impact.
Ever since the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) first entered public consciousness two weeks ago, there have been daily news reports on it in my country. And with each passing day, we have been buying more and more things in a bid to protect ourselves from the virus as much as possible.We all want to survive. And we will buy whatever it takes to have that sense of security.
Following headlines news on the first few cases of Singaporeans being tested for the novel coronavirus, face masks, hand sanitizers, and thermometers have all run out of stock in most of the stores across the country. And now groceries were running out as well, with the public filling supermarkets as frantic shoppers tried to grab groceries before the virus situation worsens further.
People were probably afraid to go out unnecessarily due to the escalating situation and were thus stocking up as much as they could. The first item to run out was rice and the next was toilet paper—it felt as if we were going to war.
“Seriously, how did this panic-buying happen in my nation? Is there really a need to do this? What if there really isn’t any more rice at the supermarket when we finish ours at home? My family is so used to eating rice daily!” Those thoughts prompted me to make a trip down to the supermarket, and I was just in time to get two sacks of rice from the almost empty shelf.
But after surveying the long queue, I decided to give up and head towards the minimart below my house which is less popular due to the higher prices. Eventually, I managed to get the bags I needed even though stock was also running out at the minimart.
To be honest, hauling those two bags of rice home did give me a sense of assurance that my family will have enough rice for the weeks to come. But what about after the rice runs out and I need to replenish it again? What if the situation does not get better by then and there isn’t any more rice available in the stores or the situation worsens to the point that I can’t even go out?
Clearly, we all need something more than just masks or rice to “keep calm and carry on”. The truth is, we can purchase everything we need for our physical survival and stock up our homes but still end up anxious and restless.
What we need is the peace and assurance from God that He is still on the throne and rules for our good. In such a time where panic can be more contagious than the coronavirus, we need to remember that perfect peace is found only in trusting God (Isaiah 26:3, Philippians 4:7), and resting in His shadow (Psalm 91:1-2).
When we allow our minds to be influenced by the chaos around us, rather than the Word of God, we can never find peace. The Word of God is full of Spirit and life (John 6:63), clarity and hope (Romans 15:13), and it is a lamp to our feet and light to our path (Psalm 119:105). Renewing our minds with the truth of His Word is the only thing that can give us lasting peace.
My rice-buying experience was a good spiritual check for myself. Was I placing hope and trust in what I could do for myself and my family rather than trusting God for His peace? Was I storing up my treasure on this temporal earth where things do not last (Matthew 19:21)?
Matthew 24:36 says Jesus will come again to redeem us at an unexpected hour. In some way, that parallels our current situation. None of us expected the coronavirus outbreak to happen and those who were not prepared for it ended up grabbing groceries in a frantic manner. Would I be caught unprepared when Jesus comes again at the unexpected hour? How about my loved ones?
Whether or not I have stored up sufficient rice for the family now seems like a small matter in light of the future reality of Jesus’ impending return. While physical needs are important, it is even more important for me to keep vigilant at all times. Am I reflecting Christ in my daily life? And in this uncertain epidemic, am I sharing the peace of Christ to my unsaved loved ones and those living in fear?
I am not proud to admit that I was one of those who participated in the panic-buying but through this experience, I plan to use every opportunity to share the peace of Christ to my loved ones, especially in this climate of uncertainty and fear.