Fear Controls, Faith Overcomes

Our entire world is facing something unlike anything we have seen before in our lifetimes, an invisible giant if you will. It’s easy to see why we’re all panic-buying everything off the shelves, cramming our social media feeds with frenzy and worry about the virus, and becoming total germaphobes as we hope it will help us face COVID-19.

I know that I, for one, stocked up and have been overly sanitizing everything… just in case. In my mind, “it’s better to be overprepared than underprepared!” I’ve been keeping myself informed on the virus by watching the news frequently, and double-triple-quadruple checking that my pantry can last me through a couple weeks if need be.

And there is something to be said about being wise and cautious for what could be lying in wait around the corner… I want to be prepared.

But should I worry? Should I panic? Should I have anxiety-ridden thoughts about what tomorrow will bring? Should I fear?

We are told not to.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Rather than being anxious and letting worry plague your mind, pray. Speak to God about what’s on your heart, and ask Him to give you peace and comfort. He is our Rock solid foundation, the Cornerstone, and only in Him will we find hope and fulfillment. Cast your anxieties and worries on Him.

Perhaps this is an opportunity to shed off worldly things, and refocus our eyes on Jesus. Draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you.

Philippians 4 tells us: don’t forget to pray with thanksgiving in everything. Don’t just praise or thank Him when things are going well for you. Thank Him for the countless blessings you’ve been given, even in the midst of the storm. Prayer shouldn’t be a constant ask, it should also be acknowledging the utter sovereignty of God and who He is and the great things He has done for you. Praise God for what He’s done!

And hallelujah, by putting our trust in God we can have “a peace that transcends all understanding.” I can truly tell you that right now, at this very moment, I do have that peace. It’s definitely surpassing the understanding of those around me… and even myself. How can I be at peace during a pandemic?! But my heart and mind is guarded with Christ’s peace! I am resting in Him at this moment. Sure, through human nature I want to worry about this, but God has a perfectly blessed assurance – His plan is much bigger than what we realize. And He wants us to rely on Him at this time.

I’d like to share with you an example of God at work in tough situations. Here’s my summary of Corrie ten Boom’s unique experience, from her book The Hiding Place.

Give Thanks In All Circumstances. Will you thank God for the fleas?

Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie were Dutch Christians who helped Jews in Holland to hide from the Nazi soldiers during the Holocaust. Eventually, they were arrested for this brave and heroic act of compassion, which then led to being imprisoned at the Ravensbruck concentration camp.

The barracks that they stayed in were awful, as you could imagine. They were crammed together with other women, forced to sleep on communal wooden beds with straw as their mattress, which was foul-smelling. Their barrack specifically was infested with way more fleas than any other barrack. They truly lived in the worst of the worst conditions at this German concentration camp.

One night, as Betsie and Corrie were trying to fall asleep and Corrie complained of the fleas biting her legs, Betsie reminded her sister of what they had read that morning from a small Bible Corrie smuggled into the camp. It was 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 (ESV): “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Betsie encouraged her sister through this verse that God’s answer for them was to give thanks in all circumstances. Betsie insisted that they should begin to see the ways in which God had blessed them, even in the unimaginable condition they were living in.

She began to thank God for the fact that they were assigned to the same barrack together.

She thanked God that they somehow slipped through without inspection when they arrived, because the guards missed seeing the Bible they secretly brought in.

She thanked God that the women around them would come to know Him through that Bible.

She thanked God for the women crammed together closely in their barrack, because it meant more were able to hear them share the gospel.

And then… she thanked God for the fleas. Corrie thought there was absolutely NO good reason to thank God for the fleas! But her sister insisted that God says to give thanks in ALL circumstances, not just the pleasant ones.

Weeks went by, and they still hadn’t found a reason to thank God for the fleas, but they continued to give thanks no matter what.

Betsie had her daily work inside the barracks, while Corrie worked outside. Luckily, Betsie was speedy at getting her work done, so when she finished with her daily tasks, she used her remaining time to go around and share the gospel with the others. But she never quite understood why the guards didn’t come in to intervene while she went around sharing God’s Word. Why was she getting away with this? She easily could’ve been punished or even killed, but the guards didn’t do a thing about it.

But one day, the women discovered that the entire reason the guards didn’t stop them from sharing God’s love and grace in their barracks… was because of the fleas.

The fleas were so bad, the guards couldn’t stand to go in and they avoided it all costs.

It turned out that when they gave thanks in all circumstances, even for the fleas that they saw absolutely no good reason for, God had a reason and it was for His purpose and His glory!

Isn’t that a wonderful example of how God works, even when we don’t see what He’s doing?! Give thanks in all circumstances, and pray without ceasing. This is God’s will.

What else does God say?

Our faith will produce a solid trust in Him. I know that He never fails. He is a Sovereign God. He is always good. He is in complete control. Read that again… He is in complete control.

He’s always had every single second of this earth’s history planned out in a perfect way, down to every microscopic moment we take a breath. God is the Beginning and the End. He knows what lies in our future. (And even if He told us what He was doing, we couldn’t handle it.. we wouldn’t even believe Him! That’s what He told Habakkuk in Habakkuk 1:5) This is why God doesn’t want us to be anxious about it, since He’s got this. He tells us – even the birds know that God will provide, won’t you trust in me too?!

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Matthew 6:25-34 ESV

God is commanding us to be still in His peace and to rid ourselves of the anxiety that tortures us. There is no need! If God feeds the birds and clothes the fields, are we not more valuable than the birds and the fields, that He will provide for us?

Are we too selfish to think that His plan is insufficient, that He doesn’t have this planned out right? And what good is it to be anxious, to worry and fear? It does no good for us. It doesn’t add a day more to our lives.

Fear is a perfect tool for the enemy to control us. It grips us like no other, and it creeps up into our every thought. It can be crippling, sometimes, if we truly let fear control us. Fear is its own beast – perhaps even bigger than the virus itself.

IF we pour every ounce of trust and faith into knowing that God is in control, that He is always good, that He has a perfectly thought out plan… that brings a PEACE that we’ve never seen! It will transcend the understanding of the panicked, and it will take care of that fear you once knew and were best friends with.

Those without the hope of Jesus Christ will continue to panic and fear what tomorrow brings. But for those who are at peace, there will be a noticeable difference between us and them during this crisis. What a PERFECT opportunity to be a light in their lives for the Father of lights. What a blessing in disguise to be able to show the world the peace that is available to them, if only they put their trust in Jesus.

We are also never promised tomorrow. There’s a reason joy comes in the morning… because it’s knowing that we have another day to live and serve Christ!

Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

James 4:13-14 ESV

This passage in James says, how can we be arrogant by saying we have plans to do a certain thing tomorrow or the next day? Do we not know that God can take us at any time? Our life is like a mist that appears and then vanishes. This is why every action counts, and every day of trusting God matters.

James is saying to humble yourselves before the Lord. We never know how many days are left, so use them in their full capacity to serve.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been an optimistic person, often viewing things positively. Through that lens, one of the first things I thought about this coronavirus situation is that God is going to use it in amazing ways to reach the lost, just like He always does. And *called it*, I’m already seeing Him at work, through our church, our community, and beyond. It’s a unique opportunity and a humbling experience if you see how God these times for a grander purpose.

Some people might say, “If your God is so great, why is He letting this virus kill all of these people?”

God uses these significant times of fear and chaos that the enemy tries to corrupt the world with, and He draws His children closer. He brings people to church that might have never come or drew near, before a situation like this. He stirs up the Spirit in His followers to witness to someone (that they maybe never would have) because of a simple act of kindness like getting groceries for someone in this crisis. He uses the trials in our lives to give us the opportunity to lean on Him and trust Him, so we can weather the storm together. What would the point of our world be if we had nothing that turned us toward God?

I encourage you to see that God is also using this new time of quietness at home in your life to speak with Him more. I saw something on my Facebook yesterday that said, “No movies. No concerts. No sporting events. No restaurants. No social gatherings. Limited workload. Now that I’ve cleared your schedule, can we talk now? – God ” (source unknown)

This crazy occurrence is a perfect storm. Like one of my friends said… maybe a problem is an opportunity. An opportunity to reach the lost, to widen the church family, to show acts of kindness and humility toward one another, and to draw closer to God.

Almost all of us now have a new chance every day to pick up our Bibles and learn something. I am challenging myself to be in the Word every day, because why wouldn’t I be fed with the daily bread? I feed myself otherwise, don’t I?

Why wouldn’t I want to bring my double-edged sword of the Spirit to battle (God’s Word)?

Perhaps another reason that I’m not crumbling during this pandemic is: I’m not afraid of death any longer. In fact, I am so ready for the day God welcomes me into His glorious presence and I get to faceplant on the floor in total worship and awe and surrender. I know this may sound weird but… I’m THRILLED to die one day to leave this world and see Him face to face! This is my hope. And when it’s my time to go, even if it’s from the coronavirus, so be it… I have an amazing eternity to look forward to. I can’t wait!

By accepting that Jesus died for your sins and asking Him to come into your life, you too can have that hope! He loves you so much, and He wants you to call on Him.

Do not be afraid my friends. There is no reason to be worried. Be at peace that God is, and always has been, and will always continue to be, with us. Find solitude in knowing that these times are used for His glory, and let’s do our part in utilizing it to share the great joy we have in Christ.

God is in control. He has been from the very beginning. Fear can control us if we let it, but by resting in God’s unfailing presence and love, faith overcomes.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

John 14:27 ESV

If you want to start reading your Bible during these days at home but don’t know where to start, I encourage you to start in Isaiah 40 + 41. It’s a perfect message about faith being bigger than fear. And let’s pray for our world, that we will all draw near to God and find peace and comfort in Him during this time.

In Christ’s perfect peace,

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