Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
I found it in the used book section of a thrift store while on vacation. It caught my eye mostly because it, a beat-up-looking personal journal, was out of place amongst the published hardback books. The very first line, on the first page all by itself, hooked me.
“I am strong! I will thrive, beat this anxiety and come out on top!”
There is no name in the journal anywhere indicating to whom it once belonged, nor is there any clue given as to how it ended up in that thrift store.
A few pages in, she (details in the journal clearly show the writer to be a she) begins a day-by-day accounting ledger of the deaths that have been reported county by county. A profanity starts the next page, along with a note about how deep her depression is getting. A bit farther in is a “done” list – it includes self-congratulations for the simplest of things: eating a sandwich, brushing teeth, taking a shower. The writer seems to be paralyzed with fear and just barely functioning at all. She records quotes from officials, things like “Don’t go out. We must all assume we have the virus and that everyone else has the virus.” She notes that President Trump signed a two trillion dollar economic stimulus bill and that U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tested positive.
On 4/1/20, she quotes the Washington Post as saying, “National Stockpile of Medical Supplies Is Nearly Gone.” On 4/14/20, she notes that three states are considering reopening and writes a string of expletives as her response; she is clearly very much against the idea. More and more days of the death count follow. More and more frightened expletives. More and more political references; the writer is, to put it mildly, not a fan of the administration, especially President Trump.
More and more news articles are referenced, one followed by “It just blows my mind to read this article!” More and more numbers; infection rates, supposed rates of infection among people showing no symptoms. A page where she has highlighted “Resisted urge to lay down and eat ice cream!” in bright yellow.
Further in, she begins to see the light at the end of the tunnel for a few pages, only to be sent back into a horrible downward spiral by “news of a second wave that will be deadlier than the first.” She worries whether she will be able to keep her stimulus-generated unemployment pay. More expletives. More mentions of high anxiety. And then, on 6/3/20, things shift into accounts of the riots across the land, “Antifa, extreme left wing, paid to destroy people and property. One internet article said that they are already bored with the mega-city demolition and mayhem, so they are moving into the residential areas.” Another expletive. “Antifa militants are domestic terrorists. It is hard for me to believe that domestic terrorists exist in the U.S., but it seems that they do.” And then came the covid tie in, “Everyone is wearing a mask, so Antifa can’t be identified on video.” Then back to medical issues, notes of “people in quarantine that we would not even know about save for social media.” Blank pages. Then indecipherable scribblings. Then more notes of fear and anxiety.
And then, as if nothing ever happened – a class schedule. An entire book of fear and dreading and anxiety and depression and terror, then a mundane, ordinary class schedule, a show of life returning to normal.
I do not think I have ever read anything so heartbreaking. The fear this person endured must have been unfathomable. And it is a fear that I knew absolutely nothing about. Do not misunderstand; I am not hoping to die anytime soon. But I did not spend a moment of covidpocalypse in fear at all. I know Christ as my Savior, so I am absolutely ready to go at any moment. I know how precious each day he gives me is, so I live each one to the fullest. I did not spend much time listening to the news during the pandemic. I prayed for and ministered to those who were sick, and I went about my daily life as normal. The vast majority of everyone I know did the same. We worked out. We found ways to go out and eat together, even if it was just picnics together under the trees. We continued to go to church. And wonderfully, we did not lose anyone to covid. I know that others did, and I grieve their loss; any such loss should never be minimized. But we did not. We went on with life as normal and were fine.
Fear is a horrible thing. Fear itself actually has very bad effects on the immune system of the body. This may be one reason why the command “fear not” is found sixty-three times in the Bible. It may be one reason why 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
I keep a daily journal as well; I have for decades. And throughout the pandemic, it was starkly different from this anonymous covid journal from the thrift store. My journal always has a lot of Scripture and prayers and special “God moments” that occur during the day (along with the voluminous to-do list) and the pandemic months were no exception to that. Mind you, I do not fancy myself to be any better than the covid journalist in the least; I simply had something better to hang onto than she did.
I have no doubt that there will be more disasters, more terrors, more pandemics. But before the next “whatever it is” comes, please let me leave you with a valuable thing to remember.
Ominous things in life are not optional; living in fear is.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at email@example.com, and his books are available by clicking the “Store” link above.