Context’s Giovanna Blescia keeps the faith during day 4 of lockdown in Italy
By Giovanna Blescia
What I’ve learned so far.
“We are ruined,” mutters an elderly man as two women spar over the last bottle of hand sanitizer at the checkout line in a hollowed-out supermarket in Puglia, Italy.
A young man quickly latches on to the lament, saying: “Those bastards from the North have escaped to the South to spread their disease here.”
Together, they heatedly discuss the end of Italy’s economy, looming plague, and, consequently, the end of the world – as they see it. While others in line, including mask-wearing cashiers, nod in agreement.
With my patience being tested every passing second, and in a tone loud enough for everyone to hear, I blurt out in my Canadian accent:
“I understand the gravity of the situation, but why is no one talking about faith in faith-filled Italy?
Suddenly – utter silence.
For a fleeting moment, it felt like time stood still.
Frozen, they gazed at me as if they’d never heard the word, “faith” before. And who can blame them? For many, faith is merely going to church. And with churches and sanctuaries closed, faith it seems is also on temporary lockdown.
I wanted to tell them to read God’s Word, but the cough of an older man nearby instantly set everyone into a frenzy, dropping food items to cover their mouths and getting out of the way of the man as quickly as possible.
The situation has since taken a turn for the worse.
Italy has tightened up its quarantine rules. We are all on lockdown; all restaurants, gyms, and malls have been shut down except for pharmacies and some grocery stores.
All that’s left for us to do is wash our hands and stay indoors.
For me, this time of reduced mobility is turning out to be an opportunity to reach out to God for understanding, and to take the attention off my needs and pray.
As one of the 60 million people under quarantine in Italy, here are three lessons that are giving me hope amid this difficult time – that I pray may help you also spiritually brace for the psychological torment this invisible enemy is igniting throughout our world:
- Mind our words: The words we speak can do as much, if not more harm than any virus can, resist the temptation to spread words of death. Proverbs 15:4 tells us that “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” Words have power. Use them to heal. Use them to give hope. Use them to encourage others.
- Limit screen time: Turning on the television, and scrolling our social media feeds has become a psychologically risky pursuit these days. We can all stand to benefit from self-imposing screen time limitations – Consider limiting our exposure to fear-based media. Set a time once or twice a day to check-in, and then take time to live in hope and pray.
- “Be not afraid”: Although we all feel frightened to some degree, what I know for sure is God reminds us not to BE afraid. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged; for the Lord, your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9
As we continue to ride out this COVID-19 wave, let us remember, and pray for those infected, the doctors and nurses who are working around the clock, pregnant women who are fearful about hospital births, our elderly who feel that the end of their world has arrived, and for government leaders who are tasked with making unprecedented decisions at this critical time.