Former Ohio Governor John Kasich said the fear and panic surrounding the new coronavirus pandemic led him to ask some deep questions about his faith in Jesus, which in turn renewed his confidence about what he believes in.
Writing for USA Today, the former presidential candidate admitted that he’s been “in and out of a funk these past weeks, ever since the full force of this global COVID-19 pandemic started to impact our communities here at home.”
In the midst of the spread of the disease, Kasich recalled he walked for over six miles, keeping a safe social distance from others and “the whole time thinking about where we were as a society and where I was with God.”
He spoke to Father Kevin Maney, from St. Augustine's Anglican Church in Westerville, Ohio, about the “disconnect” he was feeling, “believing wholeheartedly in the resurrection of Christ and the promise of a new creation and a life after death, while at the same time harboring these feelings of fear and anxiety.”
"I told him that what had me frustrated was that it sometimes felt to me as if my faith was in my head and not in my heart."
Maney responded to him, “It’s normal for us to be afraid, John. We’re born to live, not to die, so our focus should be on living, not dying.”
Kasich, a senior political contributor for CNN, said he shared about his sense of lacking in his faith also with his friend Tom Barrett, whose wife never complained or questioned her faith despite having and eventually dying of cancer.
Barrett responded, “You’ve just forgotten for the moment that God answers our needs, not necessarily when we ask for them to be answered, but when we need Him to answer them.”
Kasich admitted that after the sudden death of his parents, who were killed in 1987 by a drunk driver, he wasn't sure he believed in God.
In times of crisis and doubt, "we are pushed to examine our beliefs, and perhaps even to steady ourselves in those beliefs," he wrote, acknowledging that a largely unknown pandemic could shake a person's faith.
But he assured that his faith foundation is sound.
"Religion for me is not a mind game I’ve learned to play to help me answer some of life’s unanswerable questions. This is not a workaround or a get-out-of-jail-free card I choose to play when things get tough," he said. "No, this is me, knowing with dead-solid certainty that we are graced by the most powerful being to ever exist in the universe, who cares for us, who cares for our families, who cares about what we do and how we live our lives and the footprints we mean to leave behind. He does. Absolutely, He does.
"And if you come to embrace this truth, as I have come to embrace this truth, you can internalize it and grow from it, and it can give you the hope and strength and confidence you need to get to the other side of even an unknowable difficulty such as this one and to somehow emerge all the better for it."
In the end, he said, what matters is not "what we've gained" but rather "what we've built."
“It’s our legacy that matters in the end. It’s the example we’ve set for our children, the impact we’ve managed to make in our community," he emphasized.
As of Monday morning, the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus had risen to over 1.27 million around the world with 69,527 deaths, out of which 337,646 cases were in the United States with 9,648 deaths, according to Johns Hoskins University.
Kasich concluded, “Right now, I am in a hopeful place, because I do know we will get through this. And given the opportunity, it allows me to figure out what is really important and where my real treasures are.”