The Bible, you no doubt have heard, has a lot to say about the danger of fear. It also has a lot to say about how faith empowers us to deal with fear. “Do not be afraid,” is the message of the angels on Christmas, on Easter morning. “Perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18).
And yet, when you listen to the news about the spread of coronavirus, it’s hard not to be afraid. What will happen to the stock market? What will happen to people I love who are older or who have underlying health issues? What will happen to me? It’s frightening, and for good reason.
I am always suspicious of those who tell us not to feel something, whatever the feeling is, especially when there are reasons for the feeling that we are experiencing. I am doubly suspicious of people who use religion or the Bible that way. I do not believe that the Bible is telling us that it is wrong to be afraid of coronavirus—that there is something wrong with our faith or deficient with our love of God. Indeed, as I see it, fear has a good purpose sometimes. Fear can keep us washing our hands, avoiding risky social situations, and staying home when we do not feel good. Fear can keep us healthy. Fear can help to save lives.
I suppose the problem with fear comes when fear immobilizes us from taking appropriate action. The problem with fear comes when it leads us to be angry with others, to hate. Then fear gets in the way of health, of love, of life.
I think that coronavirus is frightening, and I want to do all that I can to take care of the larger community, the people I love, myself. And I want to be on guard against anything that would limit taking action on behalf of life, loving all God’s children all around.
–Pastor Don Steele