Why Toilet Paper?
Why Toilet Paper? The Truth in a Difficult Time
There have already been many articles, reports, and stories written about the Coronavirus. And I’m sure what I’m about to say has already been written by others. But I can’t help but see and hear from the people around me and notice the anxiety, the fear, and the panic that they have. And there are legitimate fears and worries for people to have. My goal is not to underestimate the seriousness of what our world faces. And I’m sure that the reasons for fear and anxiety are complex and reasons vary for different people on an individual level. But what if there was an underlying reason that so many people are panicking over COVID-19? What if this virus has us buying packages of toilet paper as if they were diamond rings because it reminds us of a reality that we all will eventually have to face?
My goal for writing this is simply to proclaim what is true to my friends, my family, and anyone who is willing to read. And my hope is that the truth will give hope to those who are suffering, answers to those who are questioning, and peace to those who are afraid.
There are a lot of people who will get the Coronavirus here in North America and most of them will survive. As of now, there doesn’t seem to be a way that we can stop the virus from spreading, but we can slow down the speed of its spread so that our healthcare systems have the capacity to better handle the sick. And that is why so many things are being shut down, to slow down the spread.
But the reality is that many people will still get the virus and tragically there will be people who are killed by it. So naturally, with good reason, there are people who are afraid. But then, there’s toilet paper. I’ve had many people ask me and I’ve asked other people, “what’s up with everyone buying toilet paper?” Maybe there’s a good reason that I just don’t understand. But if you ask me, I think people are buying so much toilet paper because it’s simply a symptom of panic.
And I believe that a large part of this panic has to do with a universal truth that we often try to supress; especially in western culture. This global pandemic has reminded everyone that we, no matter how much we like to believe, are not in control of our life and we will eventually die. Death is real and we can’t control it.
Much of my world has taught me that you can be anything you want to be. If you just work hard, put your head down and believe in yourself, then you can overcome anything. You are strong, you are powerful, you are in control of your own life. And this idea might work for people to have successful careers, half decent marriages, and an overall “successful” life. But as much as it is taught and proclaimed, there is something you cannot conquer. You cannot conquer death by believing in yourself or by trying harder. When a global pandemic strikes and death becomes a reality, we’re sobered into realizing that maybe we can’t control everything.
So now what?
God Is in Control
If you’ve continued to read this far, I hope that you’re thinking about the situation. I hope that you’re reflecting on the reality of our own control over life and death. And as you think, it is ok to ask questions like what happens when I die? Or how am I meant to have any hope in times of crisis like this? Can I live my life without fear? These are good things to wrestle with.
And there are good answers to these hard questions and here is the truth. There is someone who is in control. God is in control, he reigns, and he has a plan. The bible teaches this consistently and repeatedly.
“And he (Jesus) is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)
“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11)
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18)
“The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.” (Psalm 24:1-2)
“God reigns over the nations, God sits on his holy throne.” (Psalm 47:8).
Hope and Peace
Because of this, as a Christian, as someone who believes in and follows Jesus, I don’t have to be afraid. I have hope. Hope that when I die, then I will be in heaven with my saviour who died for me and who loves me. And there is nothing that can stop that, not COVID-19 and not death. I have hope in knowing that Jesus reigns. No matter what happens to me or my family, he is in control and he is working everything to his will. And don’t misunderstand me, I’m not perfect. I still have fears and anxieties. My trust in him can be shaken. But even in my unbelief I can run to him and trust in him.
And I’m not writing this to boast that I have this situation or life figured out, or that I have all the answers (trust me, I don’t). But why I am writing this is best put by D.T. Niles. I am simply a beggar who has found food and wants to show other beggars where to find it. The hope and ability to not be afraid in times like these are the fruits of what it means to know Jesus. It’s the outcome of the gospel. It’s an outcome of being a Christian, of being someone who believes in, trusts in, and follows Jesus.
The Good News
And the good news, is that you can know Jesus and have this same sense of hope and peace. In times like these, consider the truth. The truth that we are not in control. The truth that God is the judge and creator of all things. The truth that you’ve messed up. That you’ve rebelled against God and sinned. The truth that out of love, God became man in Jesus and he died to pay the punishment for your sin in your place. The truth that if you believe in Jesus, turn away from your sin, and put your trust in him, then you will be saved from the punishment that you deserve, death and hell. And what’s even greater than escaping the punishment of eternal death and hell is that you can come to know Jesus. You can know a perfect love. You can know a saviour who cares for you. A saviour who can give you peace, hope, and contentment in all things, even COVID-19. You can know a saviour who will guide you through all of the ups and downs of life. You can know God, your creator, who knows you completely and yet, still loves you!
It is my prayer that through all the panicking, through all the fear and anxiety, through the realization of reality and of our lack of control over death, that God would use it to save people. If you’re reading this and want to know more about Jesus and this hope that I’m writing about, then please send me a message. You can also tune into my church’s live stream on Sunday morning at 11:00 am (Calvary Baptist Church). Perhaps you wish to be anonymous, but still have questions. If that’s you, then you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Living It Out
And now for the church. For those of us who already know Jesus, I hope that you can be encouraged by knowing that God is in control and that he indeed does work everything according to his will. Be encouraged by the gospel, be refreshed by the love that was shown to us on the cross of Calvary, and be humbled by the sovereignty of God.
Now we need to live this out. Could we be like the Thessalonians? Let us produce work by faith, let our labor be motivated by love, and let our endurance be inspired by hope (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Calvary let us show our city, our families, and our friends, what it means to trust in Jesus in a time of uncertainty and fear. And finally, pray with me. Pray that God will use this to glorify himself and save souls.
“When the earth is shaking
And my heart is quaking
When news reports are bad
And I don’t understand
In a world that’s always changing
Every moment You are reigning
Forever You seated on your throne
Jesus reigns, over all things
Jesus reigns, He is always in control
Jesus reigns, He never sleeps, He never slumbers
I will not fear for Jesus reigns
You are never shaken
All things unfold in color
Right before your eyes
God You always have a reason
For all events and every season
Forever you are seated on your throne”
Our God reigns, our God reigns, our God reigns, our God reigns”
(Jesus Reigns, Song by Pat Sczebel)
 D.T. Niles, as quoted in Gabriel Fackre, Word in Deed: Theological Themes in Evangelism, pg. 26