“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.”
–Philippians 4:6 (NLT)
During these very uncertain and trying times, there’s a lot of speculation and panic going on. Many people are asking if the Coronavirus is a judgment from God, while others are hording items needed for daily living. But both responses are based upon fear. However, there is a third alternative that we need to examine–namely, service to others.
Before we go into that, I would like to look at what I call the fog of fear. This is important, for fear debilitates, while biblical faith in God activates and motivates.
Like a curtain of fog, fear obstructs our vision of whatever is on the other side. Fear also leads to passivity, and it can often be blown out of proportion.
Think of fear like looking through a magnifying glass, which causes objects on the other side to appear larger than they really are. While the objects themselves are real, the increase in size is an illusion. Much the same thing happens when people show undue panic over the Coronavirus.
While we do indeed face a formidable danger, excessive fear clouds the mind, making it worse. Because of this, fear eventually rules, causing poor choices to be made. But please don’t read into this what I am not saying. The idea of removing fear has nothing to do with ignoring it, or sweeping it under the rug. Just as a curtain needs to be removed to let in the light, we need to continue revealing the light we have been shown.
God would have us take an active role in service, but we need to make a transition here for that to happen. So, here are some positive steps you might want to consider implementing.
The Bible says that we are involved in spiritual warfare, and overcoming fear is a constant battle. Please don’t get discouraged, however, as you can draw on God’s strength wherever you are and whatever you’re going through. Let me offer some suggestions which have helped me, and may encourage you.
One helpful idea is doing some deep breathing in line with scripture. A good Bible verse tells us, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.” That verse is simply saying that if you have felt fearful in light of current events, you can take heart, because you don’t need to feel condemned.
If possible, sit down wherever you are, and think about that. A quiet place is preferable, but don’t let your circumstances stop you.
Try to think of other calming verses which will be of further assistance. For example, John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you. Let not your heart be troubled.”
Or, here are two more for you to look up. John 14:1 is a favorite scripture of mine. I repeated that one to myself after my heart surgery, when I thought I could be facing death. Finally, 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us about three things that God will use to replace a nagging sense of fear.
Once you’ve been comforted by scripture, or you need some more reassurance, tell Jesus all about your fears. Through prayer and the Word, He can change them into avenues for service.
While I have told you what works best for me, feel free to modify these suggestions and find a good fit for you. Through all of these difficult times, I would hasten to say that the posture of the heart is the most important concern.
In any case, pouring your heart out to God does not necessarily mean that feelings will follow. They may or may not, but we cannot stand on the sands of these fickle feelings. Rather, we need to stand on God’s Word, because the Bible is our only constant in an ever-changing world. Thus, scripture is the rock which we can stand on, and it will speak to our hearts during these troubled times.
The Bible makes it clear that God’s Word is “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.” So another function of God’s light is that it prevents us from stumbling as we move forward in Christ.
Satan wants to keep us in a state of panic, and he would like nothing more than for us to get carried away by our unruly emotions. But whenever there has been trouble in the world, Christians have always been leaders, and that brings us to our final topic.
We need to talk briefly about the difference between a biblical faith and the action of tempting God. Our Lord’s command to serve is not a command to be reckless. We need to take the appropriate precautions against the Coronavirus, but we also need to step out in faith, knowing that Christ is with us. But these steps need to be based on a thorough search of His Word, and not on something taken out of context.
A good example of what I am saying can be found in the Sermon on the Mount. Here, Jesus talks about plucking out your right eye, but it is obvious from the context that He doesn’t mean this literally. Looking at the context will show everyone that He is talking about the condition of the heart. He is telling us that eternal life is more valuable than anything we can imagine.
So move on out, while looking for creative ways to minister to others. Pray that God will bring revival to our sick world, and think about those you might spend time with on the phone while you’re staying at home.
Now I am not advocating isolationism, and it may be necessary to go out in obedience to Christ. If you are called to serve in this way, hold your head up high, and remember that Christ came to our sin-sick world first. Knowing that you can do all things through Him, therefore, will allow you to face each situation with a biblical fortitude and the wisdom that can only come from above.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-432-6498. When prompted, press 1 for live chat rooms, and we’ll be waiting in room 31. You can press pound to bypass our friend Sharon’s intro message once you’ve entered room 31. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.