“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us again.”
2 Corinthians 1:8-10 ESV
I don’t believe that there was any coincidence that this was part of my Bible reading this morning. I don’t know about you but these days feel like they are filled with deadly peril.
I do not remember any other time in my 50+ years of life when it has felt like the whole world is in crisis. I guess I have been pretty lucky. My in-laws spoke of life in Europe during the Second World War but that seems like a lifetime ago. I have heard about tsunamis and earthquakes. War, disease, pestilence. I have lived through periods of power-outages. Living in North America in this century has been pretty good though.
This time is different.
Suddenly the attention of the whole earth is focused on a microscopic virus that is threatening mankind. We are listening to statistics and news conferences, recommendations and mandates aimed at “flattening the curve”, controlling the infection, saving ourselves and our loved ones from a world-wide menace that looks to steal our breath.
It is surreal.
What is more alarming to me, though, is the spirit of fear that is accompanying this virus.
My job puts me in close proximity with a large number of seniors. Last week, one of my co-workers came into work with a number of suggestions as to how we could prevent the spread of the virus among our clientele. The suggestions in themselves were not wrong. My co-worker‘s tone was serious but positive.
But something in me switched.
While I have not been overly concerned about this situation, all of a sudden I felt an overwhelming sense of fear. I managed to get through the day with willpower and some whispered prayers. That night, however, I couldn’t sleep. I tried reading my Bible. I tried praying. Nothing was working. After a few hours, I finally woke my husband and asked him to pray for me. Without me saying anything about it, he prayed that the spirit of fear that was oppressing me would dissipate.
Maybe it is just me but everyone seems to be walking around in the cloud of fear. Toilet paper shelves in the grocery store are cleared out. Finding thermometers, anti-bacterial cleaning wipes and hand-sanitizer is almost impossible. Schools are closed. Restaurants and parks are deserted. We sit in our homes, collecting food deliveries from our front doorsteps without any exchange between the brave soul who delivered it.
We are living in fear of what comes next.
I hope you don’t misunderstand me. I am not advocating a boycott of the measures in place to protect us. My hands are also sore from constant washing. My family is still self-isolating, practicing social distancing. I pray that I won’t be the person who brings the virus home or to work.
But I have also made a choice in all this.
I have made a choice to believe that the God I love is in control. I choose to believe that He knows what the future holds. He was there when the virus infected the first person months ago, thousands of kilometres away and He will be there in the end.
The present state of our world is not a surprise to Him.
I understand what Paul was writing about in the passage at the beginning of this post. I understand what it feels like to despair of life itself and I have been tempted to do that. This is not the first time when I have not wanted to go on. What Paul concludes with in this passage, however, is the same conclusion that I have come to time and time again.
No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, the God who is mighty enough to raise the dead has delivered us in the past and He will do it again.
There is hope.
There is freedom from fear.
I don’t know about you but I need that today.