As I sit at home, wondering how long to socially distance myself, I wonder… what is the world coming to, when we can’t even be in contact with our neighbors? I wonder… what is happening with some of my older congregants? I wonder… is anyone feeling fear during this time of seclusion?
So I went to look for fear in the Bible. Rather, I went to look for ‘do not fear’ in the Bible. Of course, I only looked in the NRSV version of the Bible. I only found 43 instances. There are nine ‘do not be afraids’ in the gospels. And then there are an astronomical number of verses that speak of God’s ability and willingness to take care of God’s children.
As I read through some of them, I found a peace coming over me that I did not expect. I was surprised in fact, at the level of non-anxiousness I felt. It was as if God knew, that deep down, I had felt anxiety at all the continued news updates on the Corona virus. It is up to 54 in Michigan at the time of this writing. Having a history of pneumonia, I have to be careful myself. I know others might be at risk also.
So how do we combat our fear, our anxiety, our worries? One way is to stand firm in our knowledge that God is with us. We are still God’s children, and God is still in control. God did not visit this virus upon us. God stands with us as we combat this virus, as we socially distance, and as we make decisions to stay home for the good of others.
One of my favorite scriptures is Romans 8:38-39. Paul wrote, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Years ago, as my dad lay on the hospital bed hours before death, he grabbed my hand, and said to me… “honey say it with me… For I am convinced…” Of course, I finished the verse with him. We recited, somewhat together Romans 8:38-39, him crying and me crying, but both of us assured that though we may part, we would always be with God. God would hold us up and keep us through all life and all death’s times.
Friends, there are many more affirmations in the Bible that God is with us while we maneuver through this. Peter 5:6-7 states, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” And Joshua 1:9 states, “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.” I could continue listing these, but I would run out of room. The point is, God is our strength. God will stand by us, we are not alone. We can depend upon God in all things.
If you are worried, turn to God. If you are scared, turn to God. If you are lonely, turn to God. God will comfort and strengthen you. God will take care of you. Do not fear, but instead be strong in the Lord!