Many people suffer from fear of the unknown. Whether regarding a first day of school, the first day on a new job, a coming marriage, or flying on an airplane for the first time, we all feel fear and anxiety from time to time. Now in the year 2020 there is another fear of the unknown—SARS CoV-2—better known as COVID-19.
The virus has been around now for nearly half a year and has reportedly infected millions and killed approximately 350,000 people worldwide at the time of this writing, and yet doctors and scientists know very little about this elusive virus. How exactly is it spread? Will breathing outdoor air bring infection and death? Does infection and recovery provide immunity, and if so, for how long? How many vaccines will be needed to fight the virus and how soon can we expect the first one? How long will our nations need to remain on lockdown? What is the true death rate from the virus and what is the actual risk of infection? Does staying at home protect you from infection or does it really weaken your immune system? And the list of unknowns goes on.
Look around—what do you see? Many people fear to leave their homes. Some people wear face masks even while alone driving their vehicles. Some speculate that shaking hands and hugging will never again return to the public sphere. Many fear being alone during lengthy mandatory isolation. And now, as many nations, provinces, and states begin to relax quarantine, fears of increased infection are rising, thanks in no small part to the endless press cycle.
This commentary is certainly not intended to mock those with fears or to make light of a difficult and potentially dangerous global situation. The Bible clearly warns that “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3). The current time of trouble certainly presents clear and present dangers that we must recognize and avoid. We must be careful! Christ Himself warned that we need to “count the cost” of our decisions (Luke 14:28), weighing out the risks versus the benefits.
However, although fear of the unkown may be perfectly natural, fear and anxious thoughts are not something Christians should dwell on. We must remember that our Father in Heaven and elder brother Jesus Christ exist as our help, our shield, our refuge, and our high tower of protection (Psalm 144:2 and Psalm 91). Christ admonished us to avoid having anxious or fearful minds (Luke 12:29). As we work to draw closer to God, seeking Him first and seeking to develop more of His righteousness first, we do not need to worry (Matthew 6:33). You may want to review Matthew 6:25–34 for more encouragement! In fact, in making His point for us not to worry, Christ asked the question, “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” (Matthew 6:27). When we have God’s Holy Spirit working in us or with us we must remember that this spirit is not “a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). And through the prophet Isaiah God encourages: “Say to those who are fearful-hearted, be strong, do not fear!” (Isaiah 35:4).
Instead of living in fear, God wants us to have “strong confidence” in Him to watch over and protect us (Proverbs 14:26). We must live our lives, even now when many are uncertain and fearful, in peace and with a sound or restful mind. We must be careful and not careless, but we must also remember that “great peace have those who love Your law and nothing causes them to stumble” (Psalm 119:165).
Troubling times have always been with us, are with us now, and are prophesied to increase in the future. But, those who have true faith in God and His ability to protect will not worry and they will “be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6)—even as they weigh the risks and take precautions (Luke 14:28; Proverbs 22:3)! If you are worried, anxious, or fearful, continue to pray regularly and read God’s inspired word—the Bible!
Are you struggling with the cares of this life? Real peace doesn’t come from a “magical formula” for success. It’s the fruit of God’s positive and practical way of life. Our video, "7 Steps for Lasting Happiness" shows how you can find the life you’re searching for. Check it out, and read our encouraging article “Overcoming Your Anxieties.” You’ll be glad you did!