How do we fight against fear while scientists wage war against the virus? That’s the topic of this Guest Post by Mark Lauterbach.
A number of years ago, a friend handed us a weapon and he told us how to use it. No, it was not a gun. It was not even a weapon to use against the dangers of flesh and blood assaults. Instead, it was a better weapon against a greater enemy — the enemy of fear and despair. It was a weapon to fight the thoughts of our minds and the emotions of our hearts — especially in the face of fear-inducing crises.
It is a weapon we need in this present distress.
Remembering Past Fear
At that moment of our lives, an avalanche of evils had buried us alive. We were swallowed up with fear and anger and shame and regrets. After our friend listened to our story, he asked two questions:
“Why are you entertaining these thoughts? Is this how our God speaks?”
We protested with a dozen answers. We were being honest, humble, teachable, sincere, realistic . . . but we could scarcely voice them without his second question answering them.
Why are you entertaining these thoughts? Is this how our God speaks?
He pointed out that the thoughts we were entertaining and welcoming into our heart were not of God. They were from the Dark Lord. He is the father of all lies, the slanderer, the one who rules through fear.
Our friend asked us if we thought that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ was a God who makes his children live in regret? Feel like their lives are over and ruined? Cause them to be swallowed up with shame? Does the true God speak to cause fears? The answer was obvious.
His questions brought light and hope and grace to us. They also brought courage. But we still had some learning to do. As we said at the time, no one had ever put it that way. We were used to seeking comfort for our fears and regrets. Fighting back against fear was new. So was engaging in combat against the lies behind those fears.
Learning To Fight
In the years that followed, we began to practice resisting. First, we learned to see fear-inducing exaggeration as evil. In addition we started identifying thoughts that lead to self-pity as satanic. Instead of toying with the fiery darts of the evil one, we learned to resist them.
Brothers and sisters, we are called to engage in holy war against all that elicits fear, terror, and panic, self-pity, and catastrophizing. That means we must not give any ground to the thoughts and information that stir these emotions. We must cease interpreting our current situation as though it is the last chapter of the story. In short we must refuse to give power to the lies and bullying of the Evil One.
And Now . . .
8 days into a self-imposed quarantine (due to travel through Europe) Rondi and I are fighting this war. We must fight this war.
News outlets fight back, spilling out fear-inducing speculations and projections. Blog posts proliferate, leading us to worst case scenarios. Personal communication is filled with “Oh no, this is the most difficult thing I will ever face!” Facebook contributes, publishing threads that pass on disinformation and fear-mongering predictions.
Oh no, kids will miss graduation — my favorite restaurant will close — my dog can’t be walked – I may run out of toilet paper — we may go into a recession – our leaders may do stupid things (that’s a given) — hospitals will be overrun — etc etc etc.
You and I must resolve to resist the voices that lead to fear. Together we must determine to reject the speculation that leads to panic. We must be adamant that we will cease the exaggerated sense of how awful this is. By these actions we stand against the dark Lord who loves to fill the world with panic and self absorption and anger and self pity.
This is hard work. Why does it feel that way?
There’s something in us that loves fear. Fear-producing stories abound. They drive us to click and follow and forward. By contrast few are passing on good news. When they do, everyone ignores it. We’d rather speculate about the worst.
Have you noticed the absence of hope? No one has written an article prognosticating about the possibility that in 8 weeks, the crisis will have mostly passed. Individuals and corporations and governments and scientists will have worked together to fight the disease, to supply medical equipment, to keep groceries coming. Why is no one is writing that?
Good speculation does not sell.
God’s Words Against Fear
We may love fear in some perverse way, but fear is not of God. Indeed, God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind (see 2 timothy 1:7). “Fear not,” are words repeatedly spoken by God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ: Resist the voice that stirs you to fear. Listen to the One who empowers you to love.
Can we refuse to entertain fear-inducing speculation? Is it possible to resist? Can we stop exaggerating the suffering? Posting and passing on anything that induces fear?
Might we believe instead that in a year or two, we will look back and see the ways God was at work in this — advancing the cause of the Gospel, moving his people to lay down their lives to serve others?
I am not advocating indifference. Of course we will take precautions. This is not a cause for carelessness, but a call to service. We serve by following the medical guidelines. Hoarding blocks the flow of our service. Instead, we serve by giving, because we know God will take care of us.
We, one couple, are done with speculation and fear. Here we stand. We do not need comfort to endure. We need courage to fight and to love.
This stance is more than positive thinking. It is truth. Our God is in the heavens. We belong to him inseparably. Nothing can separate us from his love in Christ.
Then let us go about doing good. Let us tell people of the reason we have no fear. Let us dare to live one day at a time, Let us pray for people around us and around the world.