Coronavirus / COVID-19. Scary.
But what place has fear in our lives?
The military conducted experiments to see if fear could be eradicated from the human response mechanism. Answer? No. Warranted fear is necessary; it keeps us alive. There are things that can harm or kill us; situations that put us at risk. These should be feared, eliminated, defeated, or protected against. A serious virus deadly to at-risk groups is one of them.
Unwarranted fear or unrelenting anxiety only keeps us worried. It’s debilitating with no protective benefit. It fears fear.
Scripture speaks of fear—both of appropriately targeted fear and of wasteful worry and anxiety. It begins with the “fear of” (reverence for) God. In Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 14:26,27, and Proverbs 19:23 we are reminded that God is the beginning of wisdom; the source of life; our shelter; and our peace.
The difference between fear and reverence is that fear rightly motivates us to run from what can harm us; reverence invites us to take shelter in He who is powerfully for us even in the midst of what is frightening. The biblical figure, Job, who endured bruising hardship and suffering said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15).
Jesus invites us to take shelter in Him: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is perfectly fitted and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30)
The Apostle Paul, who endured hostile opposition, false accusation, pursuit, beatings, imprisonment, stoning, and being left for dead, wrote: “…be anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6,7)
So, yes, we are wise to fear what should be feared; let us protect ourselves and others in the ways God has enabled us to do so. And let us revere and trust in the Lord who loves and motivates courageous love, for “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim 1:7)
Let us run from what can harm us, and run to Him who wills to comfort, help, and save us. Then, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)