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Do I Stay or Do I Go? - Expat Dilemma During the Coronavirus Epidemic

But for the expatriate living abroad there is another stark reality that is quickly sinking in.  They have a choice to make which can be reflected in the title of a 1981 English song, “Do I stay or Do I Go?”

Europe is currently the epicenter of the Coronavirus. People are experiencing a myriad of feelings, both expressed and unexpressed, during these days. For most, the reality of the severity of this virus causes concern and understandable anxiety. After the governmental instructions were communicated, and even though there remains an atmosphere of some unsettledness, one can also feel the spark of unity among the people as they prepare together for an unknown situation. 

Prior to the shutdown, one could find people scurrying from store to store trying to accumulate all the needed supplies for the next weeks ahead. People were standing in long lines outside the stores in order to take their turn to enter, all the while trying their upmost best to keep an adequate distance between themselves and the people around them. (Social Distancing has become a key phrase nowadays.) However, with all the tasks needing to be completed before the deadline struck 12, one could actually get lost in the overwhelming process that was in front of them. With the shutdown looming and the potential sickness all around them, people seemed to be coping best by keeping their head down and just completing the tasks in front of them in order to prepare sufficiently for what is about to occur. 

Unfortunately, these are all too familiar experiences for the peoples currently living and working in Europe. But for the expatriate living abroad there is another stark reality that is quickly sinking in.  They have a choice to make which can be reflected in the title of a 1981 English song, “Do I stay or Do I Go?” For if the expat chooses to remain in the country where they are studying or working, they are hit with the reality that their attempts to reach out and tend to their families’ possible future needs during this crisis would be near to impossible as the border crossings begin to close.  The expat isclosed in(for understandable reasons) along with the entire national population but, they are alsoclosedoutfrom their family ties during a world crisis - unable to get home to give help or to personally receive comfort from those they love.  Feelings of loneliness, loss of control, and fear are normal feelings which we are finding people are wrestling with, including ourselves.

But as we speak truth to ourselves and to those christians around us, we remind ourselves that God is still on the throne. He is a God who sees. He is a God who hears. He is a God who heals. And He is a God who is present, amongst an infinite list of other character descriptors. 

In our ladies bible studies, we had been studying about the names of God. As God began to reveal Himself to humanity, how did He describe Himself? What names did He call Himself to help to communicate His character to a needy world? Our thesis was that as we study how God describes Himself we would then be able to know God and His character more and more, and as a result, cling to and walk in the truth of Who God is. 

As many of you know, I am not the preacher in our family. However, perhaps these words can be of encouragement to either the expat struggling with being quarantined in a foreign country and cut off from the physical support of family OR to those who are struggling with anxiety during this global crisis. God is present. God sees. He hears. He acts. That is how He has described His character. My encouragement to myself and to others during this time is to cling to the God who has revealed Himself; trust in Him who pursues us with a faithful love and then praise Him as He continues to draw all men to Himself. Over and over again in Exodus, God communicated to Moses these words, “… so that you will know that I am the Lord your God.” During this time, may our roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love and may we have the power to understand, as all of God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep is the love of Christ. (Eph. 3:17-19)

Do I stay or Do I go? My answer? I will remain rooted in these truths whether I live quarantined in a foreign country or if I work through this virus living next to family and friends. For me … You will find me clinging to the Vine, allowing my roots to soak up His truth in the midst of a chaotic world.  

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