As I write this post, major news organizations are reporting the global spread of the Coronavirus with what seems like fear and an increase in alarm compared to just yesterday.
The media is broadcasting fears regarding the predicted negative effect on the global economy, the apparent misinformation about numbers of cases, the complex issues concerning everything from vaccination to mitigation. The simple fact is that people are afraid and for a very real reason. Pandemics like this and the Ebola crisis before it are difficult to contain. They remind us how small we are.
But, though the reason for fear may be real, there are varying degrees of reality. The resurrection shows us this: that grace is more real than sickness, pain, and death. That the truth of God’s love—the giver of life—supersedes the fact of death and will one day abolish it completely.
First John, chapter 4 talks about this reality of love in regards to fear, and I, personally, sometimes forget how radical this is:
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:16-18 – emphasis mine)
We might ask, but what does love have to do with worrying about illness? Because living without fear is simply a way of seeing the greater reality of God’s grace and his love for us—and trusting in it. This causes us to ask: are we radical enough to apply the knowledge of God’s love to the Coronavirus outbreak and even the common flu?
We can read the endless news stories and find them just about anywhere we look, but I propose we invest some time also in tempering our consumption of terror with a reminder of what the Bible insists about fear. Below are a few of the passages that discuss fear:
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; (Psalm 46:2 – NASB)
Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 – ESV)
‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’ (Haggai 2:5 – NKJV)
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. (Psalm 112:7 – NIV)
Yes, you came when I called;
you told me, “Do not fear.” (Lamentations 3:57 – NLT)
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; (Psalm 91:5 – KJV)
Now this is what the Lord says—
the One who created you, Jacob,
and the One who formed you, Israel—
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name; you are Mine. (Isaiah 43:1 – HCSB)
Though an army deploys against me,
my heart will not be afraid;
though a war breaks out against me,
I will still be confident. (Psalm 27:3 – CSB)
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit. (Jeremiah 17:8 – NRSV)
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. (Luke 12:4 – NIV)
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32 – NIV)