What Do You Fear?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about 2020, Coronavirus, and the panic that it seems our country (and the world) is in. After six months, you would think that things would have calmed down some, but instead we find an atmosphere of increasing fear and hostility towards others who don’t share the same beliefs we do regarding the virus, how to approach it, and how to live our lives in the shadow of the virus. On top of this, those who pull the strings want us to be panicked all the time; they don’t want us to feel peaceful or confident. They don’t want us to trust in our instincts. Our “quarantine” turned out to be really a house arrest. They want us to be compliant and willing to stop everything in our lives until they say it’s safe.
Let’s be real… the virus is a very real and serious virus. It has made many people very sick and killed people too. It’s not something you want to catch, but it’s something most of us will eventually get because, well, it’s a virus.
Let’s also be real with the fact that this virus, like the flu and hundreds of other viruses, is not going away. It is here to stay. We are going to see it mutate (like the flu virus) and those who have been infected already, could possibly get infected again. There may at some point be a vaccine for it, but if we are honest, that vaccine is not going to be a cure-all for this virus because of the mutations and the way it is spread. If we look at the efficiency of the flu vaccine, we can see this is a true statement.
So where does this leave us? We have a virus that is harmful, is mutating, and is here to stay. The powers that be would like us to believe that we need to shut down and live our lives in fear because of this virus. This mentality and expectation is not only isolating us, but dividing us as well. Its long term effects will be devastating. How long can we live like this? Is this really how we want to live our lives?
I sure don’t.
Perhaps I am signing my own death warrant (or virus warrant as it may be) and I’m sure to lose a few friends, but I am going to say I am not living my life in fear. I won’t. I am immune-compromised. With Lupus and Porphyria, my body is already a wreck. I know the risks. But I find that this is even more a reason not to live my life in state of continuous fear. I want to enjoy the time God has given me. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to interact with others, bring joy and God’s love to everyone, and to show my children that we are not to be fearful of the world. You won’t find me constantly at home with my shutters closed and cowering in the dark.
What Makes People So Fearful?
I think that there are several reasons people are so fearful, but the first is that people fear suffering. They do not want to suffer physically. I understand this completely because who in their right mind wants to hurt? Who wants to be so sick they can’t function? Who wants to potentially have lifelong problems as a result of contracting the virus? I know I don’t. However, I think if people understood the grace that comes with suffering maybe they might view it differently.
I have suffered much in my lifetime- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I have suffered abuse in many forms, I have suffered the deaths of my babies, I have suffered the condemnation of friends and subsequently the loss of friends, I have suffered through wrong judgment, and I have suffered physically through the diseases that ravage my body. There are too many ways I have suffered to list, but through that suffering I have found that God has always shown up. He has used my suffering to make me stronger, to help me be more empathetic, and to show me a love I never could have understood without the cross I carried. Suffering has great value in our lives. We can be transformed through our suffering. It not only helps us to appreciate the good things in our lives, but if embraced and learned from, it helps us to become more like Christ Himself, willing to be compassionate of other people’s sufferings and even more willing to help or to take a stand for others.
Friends, there will always be suffering in our world and while we may not want to endure it, if we realize that our suffering can help bring us closer to God, it helps us to endure the hardships, the adversity, and the pains (in whatever form they come in) a little easier. I don’t naturally desire suffering, but I know that when I suffer I am so close to Christ on the cross that I can feel His very breath upon me and so I embrace my suffering when it comes.
Besides suffering, what else is it that we fear? I think many fear death. With this virus there are people dying. Perhaps not as many as those in charge want us to believe, but there truly are people dying. As someone who is immune-compromised, you would think that I would live with this fear each day. After all, I have a houseful of children to still take care of. They need me. Their lives would be dramatically affected should I die. I am a wife to my husband for almost 30 years now. While my husband would probably fare better than my children if I were to die, his life certainly would be forever impacted by my death. Of course, my death would not only impact my family but my community as well. As the youth minister at my church I feel like I play an important role in helping young people embrace their faith and draw closer to Christ. I have many, many reasons to not want to die.
But even though I do not want to die, I don’t live my life in fear of death. Why? There are several reasons but the first is that I don’t believe this virus is what we are being told it is. I believe we are being lied to in regards to how dangerous this virus is. But even if the powers that be are right, I’m not fearful because I know that God is in control. I know that God has promised me so much that the life I live here is nothing compared to the life that He has waiting for me in Heaven.
We try so hard to control everything in our lives. We want it all to be perfect all the time. We desperately cling to things on this side of the veil because we think that this is all that matters. And of course, it does matter! But we have to realize that our lives here on earth are simply preparing us for our lives in Heaven with our Father. At some point we have to come to the understanding that we will have to let go of all of this in order to be with Christ. We should be preparing our hearts and souls every single day for this.
We fear death because we don’t want to let go of what we have here. We fear we will miss our children, our spouses, and our friends- or worse yet, that they will miss us and not be able to function without us. We worry about the things we will leave “undone”. We worry about the impact our deaths will have on others. All of these fears are legitimate. But if we live in constant fear of death we take away from our trust in God. God asks us to give our lives to Him and to trust in Him completely. The question remains- do we?
Of course, trust in God doesn’t mean that we throw out all precaution. We take precautions in many things in life (I wear a seat belt every time I get in the car!). This virus is no different and following the guidelines that you feel is best for yourself and your family is important. That doesn’t mean you have to embrace all the guidelines or any at all; it simply means that you are smart enough to decide what is best for you (while not breaking any laws if they are in place).
Do Not Be Afraid
When this is all over and done, I hope my children can look back on our lives and be proud that we did not cower in fear over this virus. I hope they will appreciate the fact that we have continued to live our lives knowing that if we should contract this virus that our suffering has meaning and it is worse to live in fear than to live a full life while trusting in God.
I could go on and on about our freedom and what is at stake here just in choosing to allow the government to dictate our every move (which is also a very important topic!) or about how abnormal it is to be cut off from face to face intimate human interaction (we NEED one another in a very real and physical way!), but today I am focused on reminding others that we cannot live in fear if we are to call ourselves people of faith. God is in control, even when we can’t understand it. Be safe, especially in the manner you deem appropriate, but don’t be fearful!
At the end of the day, I have more fear of not living the life that God calls me to live, of not being His light in the world, than I do of contracting this virus or potentially dying. If we are to be honest, we face death every single day… none of us know when our lives may be over. Ask yourself what it is you are truly afraid of and why. I don’t necessarily want God to give me extra ways to suffer, but I embrace the suffering I encounter to help me become closer to Him and to become a better person. I do not wish to die yet as I feel I have so much more to offer here, but if God were to call me home I would be happy to rest in His arms forever.
I will not live in fear. By living in fear, I commit to dying in a different manner. I will not let society dictate how I live my life. I will not conform my life to suit others… instead I will live the way God calls me to live- boldly and bravely; trusting in Him to always lead me to do the right things at all times. God tells us, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not anxious, 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
I trust God in all I do. I plan to live life fully- living, loving, and laughing. I will hug those who want to hug, visit with those who want to visit, and share my life as openly and fully as possible. If tomorrow I am not here anymore, no one will be able to say that I have wasted my life. And I will have no regrets for living joyfully in the Lord.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27: 1