Over the last few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about fear. Today, we are entering week three of a stay-at-home order from our state governor, and people in the U.S. are starting to get stir crazy. Protests have popped up all over the nation, apparently because people are concerned about the economy of the nation. This may be true, but I honestly believe that there is more behind these protests than the declining state of our economy.
One of the most persuasive emotions is fear. Fear causes us to hide or to fight.
Some of us hide by escaping into binge watching shows on Netflix. I can tell you honestly that my family and I have started watching about 5 or 6 new shows during the last five weeks, and we have watched almost all of the Star Trek movies, at least the ones with the original cast. Some of us escape by reading; I have noticed a lot of my friends daily updating their Goodreads lists over the last few weeks (I’m one of those people, too). Some of us escape into a virtual world of video games or Youtube videos. Some of us are escaping with art projects (how many of us have bought diamond paint kits?), writing projects (updating the blog weekly), or projects around our homes (paint, anyone?). None of these are bad things. We all need the opportunity to escape now and then, especially since we are bombarded with news reports and commercials about the response around the world to COVID-19.
Some of us hide by ignoring what is going on. We avoid the news. We have turned off our social media accounts. We have turned instead to working out incessantly, reorganizing our kitchen cabinets, finding new recipes on Pinterest, cleaning our closets, preparing for garage sales, playing games with our families. None of these things are bad, either. However, at some point, we have to face the reality. Our world is changing. We cannot hide from that.
Some of us fight instead. We can see this in the news over the last few days. Protests have been popping up around the United States, especially after President Trump tweeted “Liberate Michigan,” “Liberate Minnesota,” and “Liberate Virginia.” People have been convinced that COVID-19 is a hoax, concocted by the liberal left wing. People are convinced that the virus was created in a lab in China and released to bring down the economy of the United States. People believe that the push for a vaccine is all a ploy to track individuals in the United States with some apocalyptic Sign of the Beast. People believe that shutting down the economy allows liberal governors to pass laws that strip people of their rights as American citizens.
All of these theories are built around fear. They are rooted in an attempt to make sense out of something that does not make sense in our post-modern age. We have never faced anything like this in our lifetimes, and so some of us are grasping at straws, trying to find a way to explain this nightmare that does not seem to end. This cannot be real. It cannot be true. So, we deny and hide. Or we deny and fight.
Friends, we are faced with something that we never imagined would happen. A virus is spreading throughout our world, and because of its capacity to cause pneumonia like symptoms in vulnerable people, we have been ordered to stay at home and to practice social distancing. This is not to strip us of our rights. This is not to manipulate the results of the 2020 presidential election. This is so that hospitals are not overrun by severe cases. This is so that people who are the most vulnerable (the elderly, those with pre-existing health conditions, people with autoimmune diseases) are not at risk of contracting this disease which may cause them to die prematurely.
Fear is what causes us to hide or to fight. However, scripture does not call us to hide or to fight. God calls us to love, regardless of how afraid we might be. In 1 John 4, the apostle John states, “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.” We have to stop hiding and/or fighting. We need to speak truth out of LOVE. We need to follow the example of Jesus, who loved even when His enemies were mocking Him, beating Him, and stripping Him of His dignity as a human being.
Let’s think before we speak. Let’s think before we act. Let’s strip back the lies that we are believing. Let’s look back at the story of God so that we are reminded that God is a god of order, not chaos. That He is a God of love, not hate. He is a God of truth, not foolishness.
Be careful what you believe. Be encouraged to speak truth today, truth that has been sifted through the Word of God, not the political viewpoint of the liberal left or the conservative right.