There is a huge debate going on between those who believe that the lockdowns all across the world are more of an emotional response than is justified, and those who believe that we have to do everything in our power to avoid as many coronavirus contacts and deaths as possible.

The concerns for the extended lockdown are:

– People forced to postpone important diagnostic and preventative medical procedures. Patients with diseases other than Covid-19 are not going to get their regular screening and treatments (Medical LockDown Will Cause A Disease Surge).

– “The Covid-19 pandemic is having a great impact on health services. Patients not receiving care due to closure of outpatient services suffer a collateral damage” (Up to 2.2 Million People Experiencing Disability Suffer Collateral Damage Each Day of Covid-19 Lockdown in Europe).

– Mental health has deteriorated: Loneliness, financial stress, anxiety, and an unprecedented increase in suicide. People are likely to experience feelings like worry about being infected or getting sick, increased self-blame, and helplessness (Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental Health and Social Support among Adult Egyptians).

– Abuse—spousal, child, and substance. Pediatricians are concerned that with children not attending school, incidents of child abuse are going undetected. “There’s no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic will be the most psychologically toxic disaster in anyone’s lifetime,” says George Everly, who teaches disaster mental health and resilience at Johns Hopkins. “This pandemic is a disaster of uncertainty, and the greater the uncertainty surrounding a disaster, the greater the psychological casualties” (10 Eye-Opening Statistics On The Mental Health Impact Of The Coronavirus Pandemic).

– Isolation and loneliness are taking a heavy toll on seniors. “The effects of loneliness are most pronounced among seniors who were already frail and isolated, but the lockdown has been cruel to healthy, active people, too” (As lockdown extends, isolated seniors are ‘collateral damage’).

– Addictions—alcoholism, pornography, drug. “Pornography is having a good pandemic. As an industry, it is well adapted to a world in lockdown. It has already largely moved online; and its consumers often voluntarily self-isolate. Now, as Mike Stabile of the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), an industry group in Los Angeles, puts it, legions are ‘stuck at home and looking for an outlet.’ Most online porn is free. Last month traffic on Pornhub, a giant website, for instance, was up by 22% compared with March” (Pornography is booming during the covid-19 lockdowns).

– Not just individuals and their families, but communities are being affected by unemployment.

Regardless of where we all stand (I’m leaving those beliefs in the hands of each person and their conscience), we are faced with what many scientists are projecting as the “fallout” from the lockdown—all across the world. As believers, the questions we ask are: How can we help? With the anticipated collateral damage from the lockdown, what can we do?

I suggest we do what the people of God have already done in moments of fear, crisis, and bad news:

-Pray that God will remove our fears and let us seek his wisdom on how to be his hands and feet, and trust him to lead us.

-Ensure that your family is doing well. Your relationships during this time are undergoing or may have undergone some tremendous strains. Therapists and divorce attorneys are projecting that there will be an uptick in break-ups. Pray for God’s help as you try to overcome challenges each day.

-Don’t stop talking to each other, particularly with your children, and checking in to see how their doing, not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. No, I’m not trying to scare parents, but to make them aware of what we pastors are being told to watch for—that children are most vulnerable during this time. Children are generally known to thrive with regular social contact, isolation is hitting them hard. So watch for sudden changes in your child’s regular patterns—energy, appetite, sleeping.

The heartbreaking story of 12-year old Hayden Hunstable (who took his life three days before his 13th birthday) tells of a father’s grief over the suicide of his son. Hayden was “a kid who loved life, was the life of the party.” He showed no signs of being unhappy or depressed. His death has blindsided his family. Brad, his father says, “When Hayden’s eyes closed, my eyes opened. I know what my calling is.” Brad is now raising money for an EMERGENCY National PSA to save kids (Follow him on Twitter @bhunstable). Pray for the Hunstable family.

-Call and speak to someone you trust if you’re feeling vulnerable or are grieving. Even exceedingly healthy people are exhibiting symptoms of depression and low motivation. This is not a time to feel shame for not being “strong enough” or that your faith is weak. It is recognizing that you are not alone and that you are surrounded by a community who is not going to judge you, but love you and pray for you.

-Try to reach out to someone who you think may need a call or an encouraging word. Please know that I am always available to pray with you.

Let us set aside any fears we may have and ask God to show us what his purpose and plan for us is as we come out of lockdown. Praying that you will be embraced by God’s comforting presence and may his light cleanse and remove every darkness in your life.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9