(***This post first appeared on the Cornerstone Church blog here.)
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Paul, the lead teaching pastor at my church, about this pandemic in which we find ourselves. We quickly went beyond the most recent news reports to a topic just as critical as hand-washing.
Many people are experiencing new levels of fear and anxiety thanks to the unknown nature of COVID-19. Besides health concerns, anxiety is high over the economy, education, isolation, etc. If you ask people what they fear the most, many would say it is the fear of the unknown.
I get that. I mean, pretend you’re a kid again, standing at the top of the stairs leading into a dark, creepy basement. My grandparents had one such basement. I was so thankful I never lost a ball or anything down those stairs. I really never wanted to go down there because who knew what was down there? Simply put, kids often have this kind of fear of the unknown, but we all know fear doesn’t disappear when you become an adult.
Today, the fear of the unknown is very real. No one knows what to expect from this virus. Our government officials, health care experts, economists, you name it…no one can predict the fallout from this one virus.
Paul reminded me that, hey, we do have some things that we know, that we can cling to. In times like these, when anxiety is high, we can cling to the character of God. We know that our God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). When we feel anxiety creeping up, it is our chance to remind ourselves of who God is.
God is always with us. God says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
God is our refuge and strength. Psalm 46:1-3 tells us, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” As a refuge, God protects us. As our strength, God enables us to do things we wouldn’t normally do…even participate in social distancing.
God is our help, and He tells us not to fear. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
As a person who struggles with anxiety in normal circumstances, I have had to be diligent about my focus. Isaiah 26:3 tells me that God “will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (NLT).
This was something Paul also encourages us to do. We have the opportunity to put 2 Corinthians 10:5 into practice. To keep our focus on God and His peace, we must “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
God is our peace, refuge, strength and help. Any thought that doesn’t reflect that is one we need to eliminate.
To keep our focus on God instead of the unknown, ever-changing circumstances around us, we must remind ourselves of the things we know to be true. God is with us always, and He never changes.