Milk and Honey Magazine explains how to find God's peace, Bible verses, and trust amidst the anxiety and fear of the coronavirus.

Love That Fills the Distance

Brittney Eve Miller

“Love thy neighbors,” scripture says. (Mark 12:31) It’s instinctual for us to think of community and togetherness.

Hugs. Handshakes. “Healing high-fives” -- as my husband would say.  

But, in times like these (amidst the coronavirus), how do you express that love to others? When tragedy has spread to every corner of our world and our only solution is separation and isolation -- how do we still love others?

Showing love doesn’t always require “physical affection” as we may naturally be led to think -- where the groves of fingerprints dance in synchrony together and voices collide with rhythm.  The nature of love is the expression we’re called to give for the good of others, not for the benefit of self.

Unfortunately, that selfless love does not always come easily.  Especially amid the growing fear inundating you from almost every angle.  

This love also doesn’t come without some sort of price. It requires sacrifice. Life-altering, uncomfortable sacrifice. Sacrifice of self. Sacrifice of pride.  All for the benefit of everyone else.  Does this sacrificial love sound familiar to you?  

Jesus was the greatest, most memorable and honorable example of sacrificial love.  He embodied this love his entire existence down to, and especially at, his last breath.  The love that saved the entire world from sin.  This love is the heart of the gospel.  (John 3:16) It required temporary separation from the world and Christ.

So, I asked myself, “what does sacrificial love mean when considering how we love our neighbors during a crisis?”  Our neighbors include everyone in our community, whether we know them or not.  And, if I’m not near them and not interacting with them, how am I showing love in a way that honors Him?  

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

I’ve had my own personal encounter with this epidemic in relation to sacrificial love. I’m a newlywed married to the man of my dreams, who also happens to be the most innovative, creative, and attentive doctor on this side of the Mississippi.

So, my sacrificial love is my current separation from the man God sent to be my protector.  While his sacrificial love is risking his health while away on the front lines of defense working tirelessly to help others in need.

In general, during these times we all must express basic sacrificial love through social distancing. (And, by not hoarding toilet paper — sorry I had to say it!)

This first week of alone time began slow and was filled with uncertainty, so I took it day-by-day.  I was scared, alone and missing my husband.  So as I do in most times of fear, I headed to my prayer closet and dropped to my knees in prayer.

Sure, I could have distracted myself by binging every reality show or by hoarding every last square of toilet paper within a 5-mile radius. Instead, I was blessed with a sweet week of just me and my first love, Jesus.  

It was His invitation to stop the whirlwind surrounding me and dive into every resource available to understand Him and OUR relationship better, with no excuses. To be reminded that He is our ultimate protector, not anyone else.  

As things unfolded and I witnessed how God was using situations for good, I saw that LOVE (like viruses) also adapts to circumstances, environments and withstands extreme conditions to not only survive but thrive.  

This love we’re asked to express to others can and will adapt during times of desperation and separation.  It means we step outside of the box (figuratively, of course!) and look at love in the way Jesus expressed love. That we’re putting the needs of our neighbors before ourselves, despite any fear.

The face of love during these times no longer looks like physical closeness and togetherness. It’s just the opposite. In these extreme circumstances, love now takes on the shape of what the world describes as “social-distancing” and "isolation.”  This translates to empty church pews, vacant movie theaters, silent music halls, and drive-through clinics. All of this IS love.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” -1 John 3:18

Social distancing or being cooped up in quarantine during an epidemic is your expression of sacrificial love. But, that doesn’t stop you from missing friends and potential boredom.  (PSA: Reach out to your extroverted friends, they are struggling!)  So, outside of video chats and group texts, I challenge you to spend time re-evaluating your relationship with Him, beyond a quick prayer between episodes of your favorite reality show. 

To help you survive social distancing and your time of sacrificial love for your neighbors, I have five recommendations to help you as you seek a deeper relationship with Him:

  • Choose a book in the Bible that you’ve spent the least amount of time studying. Handwrite or type up individual verses (the act of writing/typing is better for your memory). Then, make notes about what it means to you and how you live your life in comparison. Reflect and pray on this after.
  • Find an online community of people who challenge and strengthen your understanding and knowledge of Him and His life here on earth. I recommend the First 5 or Revive Our Hearts app to get started.
  • Read or listen to a book/audiobook that will reveal the truth about things keeping you from having a deeper relationship with Him.  I recommend “Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer.  
  • Watch movies/series dedicated to the life of Christ such as The Chosen (an app and it’s free!)
  • Pray for your “neighbors” and your relationship with Him on a consistent basis during this time. After each session, stop and sit quietly, very patiently, and wait to hear from Him.  

LOVE sometimes requires us to physically separate ourselves from others, even when we would prefer not to -- all to prevent more harm or hurt from spreading.  

Just remember, love is sometimes still and silent. But love is resilient. Love always adapts. Love always wins. He IS love. Know His love deeper. The love that withstands the test of it all. Please LOVE thy neighbor as yourself.

Finding God's peace, hope, and encouragement amidst the anxiety of the Coronavirus!

Brittney Eve Miller is a 36-year-old digital content creator residing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has a degree in Multimedia/Web Design and Development and a passion for story.  Her own story resembles the battlefield between pain and love so she thrives helping to show God's love to heal the struggling hearts of women. Outside of reading and filling journals with words and doodles, her biggest joy is going on adventures and climbing metaphorical mountains with her husband.