The balance between Faith and Fear

In the past few months, due to the pandemic, our world has reached a new normal. Much of that new normal includes the onslaught of fear. Many have lost their jobs, had their family members hospitalized, and some sadly have died from the Coronavirus. The news outlets are constantly sharing updated numbers to keep us informed, but to some degree their efforts have also intensified fear: fear that we may be the next victim of the virus or fear that we may never recover economically from the virus’ impact on businesses.

I have watched silently and listened to many express their concerns, fears, and in some cases denial of the long-term effects of the pandemic. Many have hunkered down, some have reached out as loving neighbors, while others are preaching a “No Fear, just Faith” message. However, after much prayer, reflection, and meditation on scripture, I believe our response should be somewhere in the middle.

I admire those who are trusting God throughout this crisis. I too am trusting Him and truly believe that He will bring hope during this time of uncertainty. As I reflect on the “all faith, no fear” messages, it reminds me of a classic case of “If I don’t acknowledge it, it doesn’t exist or somehow it won’t affect me.”

How can we have faith, but also balance that with recognizing the degree of chaos the pandemic has brought into our world? We can turn to scripture. In the first blog of this series, we will look at how scripture teaches us to love others as ourselves.

When we come to Christ, we become new creations and a new realization of who we are and who He has designed us to be. Because of His love for us, we can love ourselves and love others. Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to “Love your Neighbor as Yourself” (Mark 12:31). When I returned from South Sudan in early March, I traveled through an airport where I was in close proximity to many who were coming to and from Asia and Europe wearing masks. When I returned home, I felt quite sick with headaches, chills, fatigue, and bouts of coughing that robbed my sleep.

The local clinic didn’t have a test for COVID-19 and reasoned that, with my history, it was just a severe sinus infection. They gave me antibiotics and sent me home. I started to feel a little better, but after the antibiotics wore off all the symptoms came back worse. A different medical facility wouldn’t test me for COVID-19 either, but they did test for flu and strep throat; diagnosis: strep. During this time, I elected to self-quarantine, even before regions began requiring people to do so. I didn’t do it out of fear, but out of love, not knowing if I was contagious except that my wife got sick during this time (less severe). Out of concern for my family, friends and neighbors, I made sure to limit interactions with others so as not to spread whatever illness I had. It was not easy, as I missed hanging out with others.

As followers of Christ, we are challenged to care for the well-being of others as much as we do ourselves. In fact, scripture states in Romans 12:10:

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Let’s consider how others are feeling. We can acknowledge their fears and concerns without being judgmental or abandoning our faith. Instead, we can walk in faith, trusting the Father to give us the wisdom and strength to encourage our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as, show love and compassion to others who are fearful. We can show love through calling, messaging or texting our neighbors to see if they are okay or if they need anything. We can show love by quarantining ourselves to help prevent the spread of the virus. We can show love to others by sending them an encouraging word or inviting them to an online gathering. Love knows no bounds once we begin to consider the plight of those who are hurting and suffering and determine within ourselves that we want to share love the way God did – through loving others selflessly and proactively.

 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:9-10

While we are living in a new normal and things are changing quickly, let us continue to hold fast to our faith remembering what God has done in our lives, standing firm as we trust Him. And as we do, I encourage you to share a biblical faith encompassed with love, through weeping with those who weep, showing love to our neighbors by caring for them as we care for ourselves. We can still love one another without fear during social distancing. Let us balance fear and faith with God’s word and the guidance of His spirit.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:7-8