Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.Rabindranath Tagore
Everywhere I go I’m astonished by the level of fear on people’s faces. Even behind masks, you can see it in people’s eyes.
Last week, as I was walking along a sidewalk in front of a grocery store, a man spotted me at the very last moment, and literally jumped out of the way! My immediate reaction was to laugh, but when some sensitivity kicked in, I realized I had missed a feeling. Rightly or wrongly, he was frightened at the thought of human contact.
How did we get to this level of fear?
Residents of London during the blitz — while the Luftwaffe was pounding the city night after night, were allegedly not as distressed as my fellow citizens who venture out to stock up at the local grocery store.
For my household, the video segments by doctors Erikson and Massihi (which I shared in my last post — Back to Work, School and Life) were refreshingly informative and provided a lot of comfort. The doctors’ courageous words helped us to see the zaniness of the culture’s over-reaction to a virus whose actual numbers all over the globe simply model those of seasonal influenzas. If you haven’t read that post or watched that video, I strongly encourage you to do so.
Intriguingly, here in the U.S., polls show Democrats are far more worried about the Wuhan virus than Republicans. A friend of mine, speaking non-politically, even observes in his own offspring, “My more liberal kids are behaving more conservatively with this virus, while those who tend to be more conservative are acting more liberal.”
To my mind, the widest and most obvious contrast between people in the midst of a crisis ought to be between followers of Jesus, and those who have not yet turned to him.
Within the Body of Christ, there is no room for debilitating fear. Yes — fear is a natural human response, but fear that escalates into panic and deep distress is incompatible with a mature faith in God. Faith helps to offset fear in the heart and life of a believer. It’s one of the things that sets followers of Messiah apart from the rest of the crowd.
Perhaps the best illustration of this would be the preserved historical accounts of martyrs in the early centuries who chose to be burned or torn apart by beasts rather than recant their faith before Roman governors. Ouch! These courageous men and women most surely experienced fear, but it didn’t prevent them from remaining faithful.
Throughout scripture God’s people are told through his messengers and prophets: “Do not fear …”. And it’s usually right before He does something really big. Something remarkable and humanly-impossible.
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 with my righteous right hand.Isaiah 41:10
So what happens when believers are indistinguishable from unbelievers — when we look and sound and act and fear in the same way? What does that do to our witness, to our “saltiness”?
A believer’s response not only ought to be different than that of the world, but I’m thinking it must be different. God’s word is expressed in the imperative, not the indicative. “Fear not” is a command, not a suggestion. A believer’s only response to a divine command is obedience.
Bottom line: The lover of our soul doesn’t want us to freak out. He just wants us to keep following Him.
A world paralysed by fear is watching us, so if our response to COVID-19 looks just like theirs — masked, discouraged, sheltered, shaken, distanced, controlled, bitter, sanitized, paranoid and petrified, how can we point them to their Saviour?
But, if our response to the virus is different — if it reflects a faith grounded in Him, then to the world we represent confidence and hope.
God could be up to something big here in the spring of 2020. Can’t know for sure, but it’s a possibility. Personally I don’t want to miss it. At the very least he’d probably like to know who’s really on his team. It might not be enough to just be wearing the team sweater.
- Put your trust in God and his revealed Word, and then filter all of life through it.
- When the world is freaking out, turn toward those in need whom God has put in your path. Your actions may give others a glimpse of what He is like.
Blessings on your home,
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