Several years ago, I visited my brother and sister-in-law in Georgia for Christmas. It was a memorable time, from the steak dinner on Christmas day to the overnight stay at their family’s cabin and visiting several coffee shops throughout the week. Perhaps what stood out most from my time there, however, was the movies we watched in the evenings in the comfort of their own home. Each night, we watched a different movie based on the time era of the Nazi regime.
After several evenings of watching these movies, I noticed an underlying theme. It was fear.
It caused a neighbor to report suspicion of Jews hiding in a neighboring office building when the neighbor, in fact, had no reason for suspicion. It caused a mother to starve to death in a concentration camp when she had bread hoarded underneath her mattress for her daughters that she feared were not getting enough to eat. It caused a coup attempt to fail that would have undermined Hitler’s advances and potentially accomplished the defeat of the Nazis. And it brought about countless amounts of suffering and death for those that could have otherwise been saved during that time.
For the remainder of my visit, I ruminated over my thoughts regarding fear as portrayed in those movies. The truth is, fear is a feeling that I am far too familiar with. It has dictated my decisions in so many ways. But as I started to recognize the far-reaching effects that fear could have, I resolved in my heart to no longer allow fear to dictate my decisions. Fear would never be a good reason for any choice.
Fast-forward a little over six years later, and here we are, experiencing a new wave of fear as a nation and around the globe. The threat in our day of age has brought illness to hundreds of thousands, but perhaps an even greater problem is the effect it is causing on otherwise healthy people—the poison of fear, which is bringing about an even greater destruction.
I have seen and read many articles and posts throughout the last few weeks about the topic. Small businesses are failing, the economy is crashing, grocery stores can’t keep up with the demand of their customers, medical staff are in danger of not having the proper safety equipment due to higher demand of supplies by the general public, etc.
In the midst of a world gone mad as the coronavirus continues its spread, how are we to respond?
For those of us who are believers, we already know the answer. Do not be afraid.
It’s a common command given throughout the Scriptures in moments when the most normal human response would have been to fear. And yet God tells us not to be afraid. Why? Because He is with us.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9 ESV
When I was really little, I remember thinking my dad was one of the strongest and most capable people in the world. When circumstances contradicted my beliefs, it was hard for me to accept that. After all, he was my dad, and being strong and capable was an intrinsic part of being a dad in my young mind.
Though I now know that my dad has limitations and weaknesses, I believe that God would want us to have the beliefs I once had about my father when we think about who He is. He is powerful and sovereign and above all things. And His strength and capability are an intrinsic part of who He is. So when He commands us not to fear because He is with us, we need to keep reminding ourselves of who He is and to rest in the fact that He is by our side. Plain and simple.
For those of you who are struggling with fear, even in the midst of knowing who God is and that He is with you, please know that this post was not written to judge you. All I ask is that you would do this one thing—confess your fears to Jesus. And if you don’t know exactly why you are afraid, ask Him to show you. This virus may be the very thing He uses to heal you of fears you have been secretly holding onto—fears you may not have even known you had. He already knows what worries you are facing, and He would delight in helping you to feel a little freer. Take advantage of this opportunity to find further wholeness in Him.
On the flip side, for those of us who are not dealing with fear, let’s not give in to foolishness. The tendency, in our case, might be to want to “show off” how unafraid we are by overexposing ourselves to crowds and having the attitude of “I’ll do what I want.”
While we have the freedom to do that, for whose benefit would it be?
It would do us well to remember the following verse in times like these:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”Philippians 2:3 ESV
Let’s choose where we go and what we do with wisdom, knowing that we may come into contact with people that might not survive the coronavirus if they were to become infected because of us.
As we face the days and weeks ahead, I want to encourage us all to ask ourselves what the determining factor is for each decision we make. Is it fear, foolishness, or faith?
Let’s ask God for His wisdom and guidance as we seek to be people of faith. Moreover, let’s ask Him to give us the perspective He would want us to have during this time. We have an unprecedented opportunity in history to be a witness for Jesus like never before and to display the peace that He offers amidst moments like these.
He has allowed us to be alive in this moment of time for such a time as this. Let us rise to the occasion and be people that would sing His praise and bring Him glory, even in the midst of all this.