This is a crazy time. You definitely have to be living in a hole if you aren’t aware of how life has changed over the last few weeks. Social distancing wasn’t a thought until now….unless you lived back in the day where distance was required between a girl and boy when slow-dancing. (There definitely had to be visible space.) Pandemics were things we learned about in world history. Who would ever have thought this COVID-19 viral scourge would be part of our present experience? All of these changes and uncertainty have naturally spiked MY anxious responses. Yikes! I want to run and take a shower in anti-bacterial handwash every time I come in from being out in the public. How about you?
Sadly, the challenge which faces us nowadays is, “How do we live responsibly and continue to be rational, yet step out in faith to live life, knowing God is still sovereign over all and can be trusted?” I suggest we mistakenly think that trust and fear are mutually exclusive. In other words, we often think that in order to trust God, the feeling of fear must be absent…that we have to completely lose anxiety in order to move forward in faith. As a result, we buy into the lie which tells us we can’t have peace because fear has stolen its place.
Fear is a powerful emotion, and in many cases, such as this Corona virus scare, it prevents us from moving forward. However, it can be overlaid with something much more powerful, lessening the control of fear to rule us. Fear doesn’t necessarily disappear, but while it exists, trust OVERLAYS it. The power of trust is far greater than the dangers which produce fear.
I think of David and Goliath. The pure fact that Goliath was a large, powerful man dwarfed David. There was every reason to believe David was afraid. However, David’s fear didn’t keep him from pressing on. He fought the object of his fear and anxiety (Goliath), even though he was scared. How was this possible? He fought the giant with confidence because even though he was still afraid, his trust that God would ultimately take care of him was larger and heavier than the fear. We can have this same assurance if we remember what we know to be true, and resist our feelings to be the convincing factor.
I was out and about yesterday most assuredly breathing other people’s air. My constant thought was, “What if I catch the virus? (My age naturally puts me in the vulnerable category.) What if I get sick and die from this?” I found myself thinking more about my morbidity than I thought about whether the traffic light was red or green. Obviously, this mindset only served to heighten my anxiety. Somehow, I had to repent of my lack of faith in God’s good purposes, despite the danger of getting sick. I had to remember, “If I don’t get sick, this is God’s plan. If I do get sick, this is God’s plan. Do I trust that whatever happens to me is all part of His long view for my ultimate good and His glory?” This is a sobering challenge for all of us, but a necessary one to consider as people of faith.
God’s word says , “Perfect love drives out fear,” (I John 4:18) This scripture primarily informs us that the perfect love of the Cross casts out any fear we may have of God’s judgment and condemnation because of the consequences of our sin. However, the overarching principle is still the same. We have nothing to fear, because our trust in God’s care for us eternally far outweighs any real or perceived danger from this global virus. Yes, the prevalent contagion of this virus is anxiety producing. Yes, the uncertainty challenges our faith. And yes, it gives us pause to consider the object of our true hope. Do we place our ultimate confidence in Clorox, Kleenex, and spacing? Or, do we trust the God of the universe is in control?
This is a refining time. The virus is real. I have personally recognized this time as a crucible for my professed faith. I have had to repeatedly ask the Holy Spirit to remind me of what is true, in the midst of my anxiety. I have had to repent and press on, even though things around me are uncertain. It’s sobering for me to see just how easily I can slide into self-focused concern about me or those I love. We have a 19-year old, non-verbal, autistic grandson. He thrives on moving, jumping, activity, and consistency. He doesn’t understand the danger of germs, the consistency of handwashing, the no-no of touching his face, and why there isn’t any school bus pulling into his driveway. Understandably, nowadays, he is home-bound, and it is not only taxing his patience (and of his parents), but the lack of preventive hygiene puts him at significant risk. I find myself unusually concerned about him, and our daughter (his mother) who has a chronic auto-immune disease. More reason for worry….sigh. My genuine concern for them often overshadows the larger assurance that God is in control.
If you find yourself having the same mindset at times, be encouraged and take heart. It isn’t pretty to see our weaknesses, but this is an opportunity for the Lord to reveal our utter dependence on Him for the outcomes. This is a time to examine ourselves, and ask the Holy Spirit to show us where we lack in our faith and hope. The only solution to fear is the firm faith which trusts the Lord’s plan, purpose, provision, and providence. He has known about this virus since before creation. Turn Around and see. He holds history in His hand. We can trust Him in spite of our fear. His perfect love for us, has and will continue to be, the overriding antidote. We can trust in His future grace and mercy, however that may look. He is Lord over all… even the Corona virus.