The COVID-19 virus has not only claimed thousands of lives across the globe but has also gripped millions of people with fear. Fear of the unseen enemy is looming in every country, every region and every corner of the streets. We can identify ourselves with the Psalmist who says, “I hear many whispering, ‘Terror is on every side.” (Psalm 31:13).
THOSE WHO SEE ME ARE AFRAID OF ME (Psalm 31:11):
Every person on the street appears to be a suspected carrier of virus. A small cough is enough to raise the eyebrows of everyone around. When you cough in public, you are looked upon as a threat. On the other hand, when you see someone coughing or sick, you tend to see that person as a threat. Thus, the fear of the virus has led to a great distancing of people from one another. What is worse is when fear leads to stigmatisation in the case of a person detected with the virus.
In India specially, the person is instantly shunned by the neighbours and the society. The experience of the Psalmist is somewhat similar, “My neighbours treat me with contempt.” Further, no one wants to go near a person who is quarantined. The person is left on his own to deal with his own fears. His condition is again like that of the psalmist, “Everyone has forgotten me, as though I were dead. I am like something thrown away.” (Psalm 31:12).
All this shows how easily we become overwhelmed with fear. Think about what scares you the most. What keeps you awake at night behind your locked doors?
FEAR NOT, ONLY BELIEVE (Mark 5:36)
Fear is the absence of faith. It blocks our trust in God. And worse, it obstructs us from doing God’s will. The COVID fear has pushed many Christians behind locked doors. In a somewhat similar situation, soon after Jesus’ death, the disciples were also behind locked doors out of fear of the Jewish and Roman authorities. “Jesus came and stood in the midst and said to them: Peace be to you.” (John 20:19). Jesus said this to cast away all their fears.
On another occasion, when the disciples were battling against the strong waves, they found Jesus coming to them on the water. They screamed in fear thinking they were seeing a ghost. But Jesus spoke to them at once, saying, “Courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Mt 14:27). Therefore, in the midst of all our fears, we must learn to hear the encouraging voice of Jesus. And for that, we need to spend quality time in praying and reading the Bible.
Next, we must believe in His words. God says to us, “Do not be afraid—I am with you! I am your God—let nothing terrify you! I will make you strong and help you; I will protect you and save you.” (Isaiah 41:10). “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalms 27:1).
How much of this do you believe? Llyod Ogilvie once noted that there are 366 passages in the Bible that directs us not to worry or fear. God has provision for encouraging us every day of the year including the leap years. Therefore, we must believe.
Now, whether it is your health, health of a loved one, job, finances, etc., the one common thing is that we all fear losing something that we value.
In other words, the presence of fear indicates that there is something that we value more than God. Then, we cannot believe in Him.
But when we willingly invite Jesus into our lives and He becomes the most valuable for us, then it becomes very easy to believe in Him; and instead of becoming paralysed with fear, we are able to do the will of God without any delay. When the disciples willingly took Jesus into their boat, they immediately reached their destination. (John 6:21).
PERFECT LOVES DRIVES AWAY ALL FEAR (1 John 4:18)
Focusing more on the news or the chaos caused due to COVID-19 will only make us doubt God’s love for us. However, if we continue focussing more on God’s ways and His love for us as revealed in the Bible, then our faith will reach to the point where we know that He loves us and can never be against us. One by one, the fears, including the fear of Corona virus, will disappear.
There is however, one fear that must remain in us; it is the holy fear of doing anything that will hurt God. When we start fearing God because of our love for Him, then there is nothing else to fear. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out all fear.” (1 John 4:18). But when there is no fear of God in our hearts, then there is room for all kinds of fear in us.