Fear and Covid-19

Yesterday’s post generated a very lengthy discussion on Facebook. As the conversation went on it became very clear that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a great deal of fear. I found it very interesting that people were not expressing fear of the disease itself. No one talked about being afraid of succumbing to the virus or even of loved ones getting sick. Instead, they expressed fear that a vaccine, once discovered, will be forced on people against their will, fear that churches, now closed, might not be allowed to reopen, fear of economic collapse, and fear that our personal freedoms are being eroded and that we’re headed down the same road as Nazi Germany. It seems to me that what people are really afraid of is change, the unknown, what life will look like when this is all over.

Some of the fears that were expressed in yesterday’s conversation may seem pretty far-fetched, but I don’t want to make light of anyone’s fears. Fear is real and it can be debilitating. It feeds upon itself and it isn’t necessarily logical or realistic. After all, the author of fear is the great deceiver himself. The Bible calls him Satan.

I once preached an entire sermon on living without fear, but in a nutshell, the antidote to fear is trust. When we put our trust in our jobs, our institutions, our relationships, our rights and freedoms, what happens when those things are stripped away? That’s what we’re finding out now.

Our devotional this morning came from Proverbs 16. The second half of verse 20 jumped out at me like a flashing neon light… “blessed is he that trusts in the Lord.” When everything in life is like shifting sand, He is the one and only constant. Total trust in God is the only true remedy for fear.

The Bible is full of admonitions not to fear.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

In these uncertain times, when trusting in the things that we usually depend on fails us, we need to trust in the only One who knows what the final outcome will be, the One who will still be with us when Covid-19 is a distant memory.

The Bible also tells us that “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). As human beings, we may not be capable of perfect love, but we are certainly capable of reaching out to others in love even while we social distance. While the circumstances surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic have resulted in fear for many, they have also brought out the best in others. Whether it be singing and waving signs outside the windows of a long term care centre, dropping fresh baking on a neighbour’s doorstep, picking up and delivering groceries for someone who is self-isolating, planning a drive by birthday parade for a child who can’t have a traditional party, or just taking the time to pick up the phone and call someone who’s living alone, people are finding creative ways to reach out in love. Maybe, hopefully, this world will actually be a kinder place when this is over!

So if you’re feeling afraid, don’t just hunker down with your fear and let it fester. Trust in God and reach out in love. And if you’re truly feeling overcome, please reach out and ask for help.

6 thoughts on “Fear and Covid-19

  1. Another well-written post! 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”.

  2. Your connection between fear and trust is intriguing. Might it also connect with other references to fear such as Proverbs 9:10: ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is insight’? As you name it, the fear that undermines is the fear of loss (of jobs, institutions, even relationships) — the loss of things which are at best incomplete. I like that insight! The fear of the LORD — the knowledge of God — is growth towards the complete. Not that we (I!) can ever claim complete but that this experience of fear (which is real) is reminding me of the difference, and of the need to reach, and of trust that already there’s a hand outstretched to hold.

    • Ah, the limitations of the English language! I do wish we had another word for the “fear” of the LORD as it is so completely different from the fear that I was writing about. The closest I can come to a synonym for the fear of the LORD might be reverence or awe, but I think it’s even more than that. I’ve also heard it referred to as “holy fear”. Here’s an interesting definition that I found online. “Holy fear is love’s fear, namely, the kind of fear that is inspired by love. It’s a fear based upon reverence and respect for a person or a thing we love.”

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