What does it look like for Christians to live like Christians in the midst of this global crisis? How are we to respond to this worldwide pandemic, when fear is high?
As I write this, our world is reeling from a lethal outbreak of a new coronavirus (COVID-19) for which there is not yet a vaccine. In just a few months it has spread from a dozen cases in China to tens of thousands across continents, and the numbers are expected to rise. Governments are restricting travel, banning large gatherings, closing businesses, and shutting schools. Stock markets have tanked.
It’s a scary time. And uncertain time. So what do we do?
Although I believe we need to be informed and take every precaution recommended by public health experts, I believe living in FEAR is not an option. But how can we overcome our fear?
Two Questions to Ask When Fear Grips Your Heart
Fear is a natural response for humans. But the Word of God, in light of our ever-present, all-powerful, all-knowing, loving God, commands us to fear not. No command in scripture is given so often and to so many different kinds of people as the command to fear not!
Jesus provides the answers to our fear!
Question 1: Where’s My FOCUS?
When Jesus’ disciples were caught in the storm and Jesus was asleep in the boat, these professional fisherman cried out in desperation. “Don’t you care that we perish?“ Awakened, Jesus spoke, calmed the storm, and then asked the disciples, Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? (Mark 4:37-40)
We see the same thing happened to Peter, when he walked on the water. All was well when his focus is on Jesus. When he looks to the waves, he began to sink! Jesus responded, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28-31)
Jesus actually expects us to trust Him when the wind and waves of adversity come into our lives. He’s made a promise to “be with us” no matter, what forever and ever (Matthew 28:20).
Question 2: Where’s My FUTURE?
Anxiety and panic are rooted in picturing all the bad things that might happen in the future. The list is long! Physical harm, death, financial loss, global recession, chaos, uncertainty, instability, etc. When our minds begin to focus on all the negative possibilities of the future… fear will be right around the corner.
Jesus’ final night on earth provides us with His most profound teaching about how to face the future. In John chapter 14, Jesus reassures the disciples that regardless of what He is about to face (death), and what they will soon face (persecution, exclusion, uncertainty, and death in some cases) that they need not be afraid.
“Let not your heart be troubled (fearful, disquieted, anxious), you believe in God, believe also in me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1-2)
He later promised that they would live in a world of tribulation, difficulty, and persecution but that His peace given to them by faith in their heart would overcome the world. (See John 16:33.)
I don’t mean to sound trite, but if the worst thing that can happen to us during this pandemic is that we die (and are immediately ushered into the presence of Jesus!) then we can more than live without fear. We can model a calm and confidence in the midst of any crisis and glorify our Father in heaven.
Our World May Change but Christ Doesn’t
Few of us will likely be called into the front lines to provide medical care for the sick; but we have a great opportunity to live fearlessly and calmly in this time of chaos as we help our neighbors and our nation through it.
I believe crises are an opportunity for Christians to show the world how faith in Christ equips us to live no matter what economic uncertainty, physical harm, and maybe even death we face.
So let your light of fearless confidence shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven!
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip