I didn’t plan to write this post, but the Lord laid it on my heart to hear His voice and seek His wisdom. I spent an hour in meetings discussing the impact of the coronavirus on our church services this weekend. We talked about everything from attendance to communion. Nothing drastic, but different from what we normally do. Even though it was a tactical conversation, what do you think I left with? Fear! I could hear my anxiety whisper, “Oh crap! You need to quit your job, take your family and move to the mountains!” I realized that fear is a lot more contagious than I’d ever thought.
I’m not downplaying the current reality that is the coronavirus and to be clear, this isn’t a blog post about the coronavirus. I will say, I believe that fear does something to us that causes us to be just as crippled as the virus itself. Fear spreads a lot faster than the coronavirus. Sit in a room with a couple of people who are afraid and you’ll leave afraid.
Fear: the Enemy of Courage
Every hero has a villain. Every hero has someone who is trying to stop them from doing what they’re supposed to do. Fear is the villain of courage; he’s the enemy. But fear wasn’t always the bad guy. He once was a protector, the person who made us aware of the threats around us. Now he’s the dictator who loves to keep us in his grasp.
Fear will only root us deeper into the ground of insecurity. To overcome fear, we must have courage.
Here are some practical ways we embrace courage.
The Best Question You Can Ask
I’ve found that one of the best things we can do when we’re overwhelmed by fear is to first ask the question, “Is what I think will happen actually going to happen?” Fear will try its best to convince you that something is a lot worse than it really is.
Breathe and Talk
When our brains are deprived of blood oxygen, anxiety and depression increase. So literally one of the best things we can do when fear leaves us anxious is to stop and breathe. It’s said that a good 4-second inhale, 2-second hold, and a 6-8 second exhale goes a long way. Try it. Taking this a step further, fear doesn't want you to talk with others about it. Call your mom on the phone, sit your spouse down or pull a coworker to the side and say, “I’m afraid of …” It feels a lot different coming out of your mouth than staying in your head.
See it as an Opportunity
In the midst of our fears, it’s so easy to only focus on the problem. Maybe a change in perspective is in order. Maybe if we looked for the opportunities rather than at the problems we could see new ways to clothe ourselves with courage. Here’s an example of this. And please know I’m not tooting my own horn, but I very well could've lived in this fear of the coronavirus or I could use it as an opportunity to write on the power of fear.
One for Everyday
I want to leave us with this reminder. Did you know that the Bible says “do not fear” or “fear not” 365 times in Scripture? Is that a coincidence? I’m bent to believe not. God knew about this “virus” far beyond what our mind can comprehend. He knew that sin would cause our trust and faith to waver and result in living a life of fear. Everyday it would stretch out its arms and grab onto anyone in its proximity. In my opinion, one of the most powerful times in all of Scripture that we hear to “fear not” is Isaiah 43:1:
But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the One who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are Mine.