Perhaps more than any time in my life, I am sensing the collective fear that is gripping our world and nation. It’s the fear of an “invisible enemy” (as President Trump recently referred to COVID-19). It’s the stress of being concerned for the health of our loved ones and ourselves. It’s the concern for elderly parents and grandparents. It’s the questions of what to do with your out-of-school kids. It’s the confusion of receiving conflicting messages from the media. It’s the fear of a downturned economy or a recession. It’s the concern of a rapidly shrinking 401K. It’s the anxiety of running out of food or household items. We seem to be living in a world that has been turned upside down. We are now on edge. It’s a rapidly changing world that seems out of control.
So…how do we, as followers of Jesus, react to this chaos? Is there any reason we should NOT fear? Or should be like everyone else? Thankfully, God offers us the antidote to fear. Jesus knew we would have troubles in this world, but He has overcome the world (John 16:33). He says we can have faith rather than fear. That we can have peace, even in the midst of the storm. But how?
Let me give you four powerful reasons we, as followers of Christ, should not fear:
1. God’s love: He cares for us.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18). As David declared, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” (Psalm 23:1). He is a good Father.
1 Peter 5:7 says that we can “cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”
Now, think about that for a moment…God loves us. That means He will provide, protect, and care for us, even in the midst of a world-wide crisis. He will not forget us in our time of trial.
2. God’s presence: He is with us.
Psalm 23:4 reminds us, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
When a child is afraid, she wants her parents. When her parents are there, she is no longer afraid! Remember God is with you…you don’t have to be afraid!
A person who truly loves does not abandon the person he/she loves. God loves us. Therefore, He will not abandon us. He is with us. He will “never leave us or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5). God does not leave us in our time of need. As Psalm 46:1-3 reminds us: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”
3. God’s peace: He offers us His peace.
Jesus told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). Ponder that great truth…Jesus not only gives us peace; He gives us HIS peace. The peace that Jesus has can be ours! (Think about the peace Jesus displayed as He encountered death on the cross!) When we trust Him, and place all of our worries and anxieties on Him, He gives us His peace (see Philippians 4:6-7). We could describe God as the Great Trader…He allows us to trade in our panic for His peace, our worries for prayer. Be a trader…give your anxieties to God, and allow Him to give you HIS peace.
4. God’s power: He is in control.
We must remember this: God is still on His throne. Whatever comes, that is still a reality. He will not be shaken. He is still in control. In the midst of this chaos, remember the God we know is in control! Let’s be reminded from God’s Word that is in control and can, therefore, be trusted.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you by my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
“Fear not, I am the First and the Last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18).
Church, in the midst of the coronavirus chaos, let me give you a few practical ways that will help alleviate your fears:
Be reminded of who God is. He is still the same loving, powerful, gracious, merciful God He has always been. Remind yourself, over and over, of the four truths mentioned above.
During this time, stay close to God. He longs to bring you peace during this time. Remember, as the psalmist said, “when the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul” (Psalm 94:19). Spend time in prayer and in His Word.
Listen to songs of hope. Pastor Trevor has posted a Spotify playlist of praise songs that will remind us of the living hope we have. It will soon be posted on our church’s website, or you can access it at here (link will open Spotify in your browser window)
Limit your news intake. I am not suggesting we don’t listen to the news. In fact, at this time, we need to be aware of what is going on with the restrictions, etc. However, we need to limit ourselves so we don’t get overburdened with it. It can often lead to more panic. I’m suggesting a balanced intake of news.
Use this time to connect with others. Encourage them. Check in on them. Pray for them. Think of others, and ways you can minister to them (it’s amazing how thinking of others and serving them gets our mind off of us and our worries!)
Church, remember that with Christ, we have no need to fear. As Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Be encouraged, and remember, I love you!