I have been thinking about fear a lot lately. I thought about it often when the COVID pandemic began a year and a half ago. Then as things loosened up, and people seemed less afraid, it wasn’t on my mind so much. But, now that the virus variants have emerged and the virus rates have gone up a bit and people we know are testing positive with COVID again; fear is on the rise too.
The Bible has a lot to say about fear. “Fear not!”, “Be not afraid!” are words in command form that can be found at least 103 times in the Bible. Here are just a handful of those verses:
“David said further to his son Solomon, “Be strong and of good courage, and act. Do not be afraid or dismayed; for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.”
(1 Chronicles 28:20)
“I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” John 14:27
It’s understandable then that some of our hymns would then also speak to the
emotion of fear. For example:
“Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing?
No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Love is lord of heav’n and earth, how can I keep from singing?
(vs. 3 of “My Life Flows On”)
Fear can be a powerful weapon that evil uses to attack our faith in God. It strikes at our confidence to accomplish God’s goal for us to help build his kingdom. Fear, when left unchecked can influence one’s actions, words and thoughts. When the Bible tells us to “fear not,” it’s telling us to not let that powerful emotion get the upper hand on us. Christians, hearing these words, should recognize them as a call from God to redirect our attention onto him and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Jesus understood fear. Jesus spent most of his ministry knowing crooked people were working on plans to get rid of him.
His life was in danger, many times over; and, in the end, he did lose his earthly life as a sacrifice for us. We know that this was not the end of the story, because Jesus conquered death when we arose from the grave. Likewise, fear does not need to control us. It does not need to prevent us from being the people God created us to be. It should make us aware of the fact that we need God and we need God’s wisdom on how to keep ourselves safe and how to creatively, when necessary, to fulfill God’s plan for us. We especially need to be wise because we now know there are variants to the virus. We know that being vaccinated does not guarantee we will not get infected. We also know that the government does not mandate vaccination, or wearing a mask (at least not at the time I am writing this).
And, we now know that even those who have been vaccinated can still be carriers of the virus. In light of this, there are no guarantees that we will not be exposed anywhere we go outside our homes, even at church. Still, we cannot live as hermits…especially, not as faithful disciples of Christ. That’s exactly what the evil one would like to see happen.
Thinking about this brought my sister-in-law to mind. Deb was highly allergic to bee stings. Bee stings can be life-threatening. She had to carry an EpiPen or something of that nature, this was many years ago, that she could use if she got stung by a bee. Even though she obviously always had a fear of getting stung, I don’t remember her choosing to stay inside during bee seasons; and it did not stop her from doing things she wanted and liked to do. She enjoyed being outside, playing with her girls, swimming at her parents’ pool, going on picnics and vacations, working in flowerbeds; but she was always wise in that she carried her EpiPen with her.
I am not trying to make light of the COVID crisis. But I am cautioning us to not let fear take over our lives. As I said earlier, we need to focus more on God and our Savior; asking them for wisdom and guidance. We need to do that individually and as a church family. Let us hear God’s command to, “Be not afraid!” When we do feel afraid, let us focus on him. And, let us pray without ceasing for wisdom…for healing of those who become infected…and for an end to this pandemic. Fear not and be safe, my brothers and sisters.