‘Fear not’: Those words, often in the Bible, can aid us during pandemic. Reach out to God – Idaho Statesman


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One of the most insidious effects of the coronavirus pandemic that has held our world in a vise grip this year has been an incredible spirit of fear. Because of this invisible virus enemy, we have become afraid of each other, afraid to resume any routine of daily activities, afraid to go to work, school, the grocery store and church. This fear has destroyed any closeness in relationships that is so vital to our well-being. As a result, depression, abuse, suicide and other evidences of hopelessness have increased in our culture. It is heartbreaking when family members cannot even be with their loved ones in the time of their need in hospitals and care centers. I know of an elderly gentleman who had to sit in his car and watch from a distance the interment of his wife of many decades. Students have been deprived of vital learning environments, patients have lost the necessary interaction with their medical providers and worshipers have starved for the warmth of personal fellowship. While I understand the reasoning for Zoom conferences and virtual appointments, those technical methods of connecting with people leave an emptiness in our relationships. One man reported that he and his family were so tired of Facebook church services that they don’t bother to even engage the technology anymore. If these changes continue, it is very possible that not only will businesses fail, needed medical procedures be ignored, sporting events lose support, but also houses of worship will cease to exist. People will gradually develop new coping mechanisms centered on their loneliness! That would be a terrible world in which to live. While I encourage all the measures designed to minimize the spread of the virus among us, I also recognize the insidious spirit of fear underlying what is going on. Fear is a paralysis, the acid breaking down the fabric of our lives. John the Beloved said fear has torment (1 John 4: 18). There is a magnetism to fear where that which we dread will come to pass. Apparently Job had always feared he would lose his health and wealth, for he said, “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me” (Job 3: 25; 9: 28). I wonder if fear changes the chemistry of our bodies to make us more susceptible to that which we secretly dread. In 1 Timothy 1:7, Paul wrote, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” So if God did not give us what we are experiencing, where is this fear coming from? He will give us sanity during a time of panic. Christ came to reconcile people back to God and to one another. Although I have not personally counted, I am told the phrase, “Fear not” appears 365 times in the Bible – one for every day of the year. I do know it appears numerous times in the Psalms and was the anthem of Jesus’ ministry. That phrase implies we have some control over the level of our personal fears. Maybe we can ease the torment by guarding the information we ingest. Possibly we could minimize our fears by changing our focus and dwelling on the promises of Scripture. We need something and someone outside ourselves to fill our minds with healthy thinking. As a child I would awaken in the night terrified by a nightmare or a scary noise outside the window. I would cry out to my father, who would come sit on the edge of my bed and reassure me that everything was all right. Knowing he was there beside me, I felt secure enough to fall back asleep and rest in peace. The answer to our fears is the presence of our heavenly Father. He is only a prayer away. Loren A. Yadon is pastor of New Life Fellowship of Boise. The Idaho Statesman’s weekly faith column features a rotation of writers from many different faiths and perspectives.
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