Viruses and Vices: A Call For Compassion in a Time of Crisis

I will never forget receiving the devastating news that I had the flu just as this year began. What I thought was just another “sinus thing” evolved into the most tortuous eight days of my entire life. This took me completely by surprise, since I’ve always had a healthy immune system and never got anything beyond the common cold. I wish I could say that I was able to whisk it away. At the time, my wife was pregnant, and I felt utterly helpless. As a pastor and an educator, I am surrounded by people, which means that I am privy to all kinds of viruses and germs, although I never took it very seriously. I underestimated how easy it was for something to latch onto my body and I learned invaluable lessons because of it.

Here’s the most important thing I learned:

Eliminate ignorance. Get informed.

We have a tendency today to watch, read and listen to the wrong information. As a result, we tend to allow more bad information to spread instead of good information. In an era of “fake news” untested sources masquerade as real, which is extremely deceptive and disingenuous.

For example, I ignorantly told the doctor in the urgent care that I just had the “sniffles” because my mucus was clear and not brown. She laughed and kindly said, “The flu isn’t prone to color. We still have to test you.” As I waited, I sat and read. a book until someone walked in and said, “Is this the room that tested positive for the flu?” Immediately I said, “No.” Until they returned and told me to cancel everything I had planned for the next 8 days due to being highly contagious. I was flabbergasted.

During that time, I was so weak, I couldn’t pick up my Bible, check on my family, friends and members. I was utterly helpless. Here’s what I discovered: Almost nobody I knew could relate to what I was going through because they NEVER had the flu and everything I heard or thought about the flu was wrong.

That experience was one of humility and it taught me empathy. While I do not know anyone with COVID-19 I am praying for their family members and loved ones and I hope that they’re okay.

As a pastor and a man of faith, I do believe in the power of miracles. However there is a difference between faith and presumption. We have just entered a new decade and are plagued with a virus that so many health professional know very little about.

Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Stay Informed. Look at credentials before you listen to a meme or share something. Before a meeting I watched this TED Talk by Alanna Shaikh that I’ve found to be extremely informative and enlightening. She is a healthcare professional and has experience with the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO). Additionally, this was an article that was helpful about the difference between a cold, flu, Norovirus “stomach flu” and COVID-19. All of these are different things and shouldn’t all be considered as the same thing.
  2. Stay Engaged. Pay attention to what’s happening in your community and your City. I am blessed to have relationships with our Mayor, Borough President and Governor. They’ve all been. doing an excellent job keeping. us updated as much as possible. This morning, several officials from the NYC Mayor’s office shared why there is a ban for houses of worship with over 500 occupants. To ensure the safety of our seniors and others, we have gone to great lengths for our services tomorrow. Due to the size of our congregation, we will be able to still have service and will stream the message to but accommodate those who will remain indoors.
  3. Stay Prayerful.

I have found great comfort in the Psalter during times of tragedy in my life. All week, in addition to my other Lenten readings, I’ve been meditating on Psalm 91 and allowing the words of the verses to serenade my heart and my thinking. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed with fear listening to so much negative news and false information. Even in the midst of calamity, chaos and confusion, God’s promises shall prevail.

4. Be Patient.

As the TED Talk I mentioned earlier shared, this crisis won’t be solved overnight and we must remember that news is a business. This may move on from the headlines but it will still affect a lot of lives for days and months to come. So we must be patient and learn how we can serve others in our community.

In essence, I do believe we will get through this storm but we must be aware of others who are also struggling, especially our most vulnerable: the elderly and those with pervasive health challenges. We are our brothers and sisters keeper, so let’s ensure that everyone is safe today and tomorrow.

Bishop D. A. Sherron is the founder and senior pastor of Global Fire Church in Brooklyn, New York. He is an educator, entrepreneur and author. He is happily married to Adara Sherron, a counselor and social media influencer. They are the proud parents of Sophia Rose and live in New York City. For more information, visit www.globalfirenow.com

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