Toilet paper and bottled water are flying off the shelves as if it’s December 1999. As a parent of three asthmatic children and the spouse of someone who might be a verge hypochondriac, the threat is real.
As Facebook fills with articles on the severity and memes that give perspective regarding other health issues, casual readers are left with conflicting voices that pendulum in our minds. When it comes to leaving our homes and going out in public, The Clashes famous lyric is flipped upon its head, if I stay there will be trouble, if I go there will be double.
Safety and hygiene are essential. However, I’m not qualified to comment on best practices or give health advice. My role is to remind us that there is a difference between fear and safety.
We have entered a time where sports teams have told players not to high-five fans and school boards are temporarily closing schools; it seems each decision is a roll of the dice in a true to life game of snakes and ladders. We either slide down the snake of fear or climb up the ladder of safety.
While safety is important, what I fear is that our fear drives us away from meaningful connections with others as we allow fear to drive us toward isolation and increased stereotypes.
Mitch Albom, in his book, The First Phone Call From Heaven gives an accurate commentary on fear when he writes,
“Fear is how you lose your life…a little bit at a time…what we give to fear, we take away from…faith.“
When we give in to fear piece by piece, we disappear. We become the opposite of who God created us to be. Fear causes us to become insular and reject love—both giving and receiving.
In 1 John 4:18 Jesus disciple John writes,
“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.”
What I fear is this,
I fear that we let fear control us. As media uses fear to drive us to our screens to see the latest updates, I can’t help but notice a society that is allowing Covid-19 to drive us away from loving each other. Have we rejected the orphan and widow? Do we no longer take in the strange? Is it no longer worth visiting the shut-in?
Like John states, fear has to do with punishment. We punish ourselves and others for what might—possibly,—maybe—happen if we reach or step out of our Lysol sanitized bubble.
Of course, we must be smart. Yes, precautions are probably wise. Saying this, the question we must ask ourselves is, are we not doing something right because we fear what might happen to our family or us. Smart, yes. Negligent, no! We must weigh the risks of our particular situation and make a smart decision that we weigh in love.
While there are parallels to various situations, the Covid-19 situation seems to be putting people on edge. We must ask ourselves, how would Jesus show love in this situation? As Erwin McManus states,
“We are not free from the emotion of fear, but we are free from its control and paralyzing effect. Our course is guided by an internal compass of convictions fuelled by passions.”
God has not given you a spirit of fear. God has sown creativity, compassion, and intelligence in you. As we approach a possibly dangerous, contagious virus, let’s reject fear and use the gifts that God has given us to respond to both ours and others fear and show that love and connection can and will endure. It may not look the same, but we will not be siloed. We will not be prejudice, and we will not stop helping because love endures no matter what happens, God still reigns on the throne.
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