We live in fearful times for sure. But as we navigate the coronavirus panic, in some quarters there seems to be a false bravado, the idea that there is nothing to be afraid of. And some say it’s just an overblown political football.
But here’s the good news of the gospel to shed some light on all this: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT). We can be “strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:6 NIV) in the face of fear if God’s Spirit lives within us.
But while we have not been given a spirit of fear, we do have access to a spirit of wisdom and discernment: “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking” (James 1:5 NLT).
So seek out the best wisdom on the matter, but not in a state of panic. And let’s show the world that being a Christian makes a difference in our lives. I think Paul shows us how we should be during times of anxiety:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)
I gather from this Scripture nine qualities our Father wants us to have during this crisis:
- BE JOYFUL. I was reminded to smile yesterday. Our resting face can sometimes look atrocious even if we’re happy. Consciously smile and share the joy of the Lord.
- BE GENTLE. Another version (NLT) says to “be considerate in all we do.” In this season when folks are grabbing at the last roll of toilet paper in the store, looking out for number one, we should buck the trend and seek ways to gently help others.
- BE FULL OF THE GOD WHO IS NEAR. This may be a stretch for this verse, but it is nevertheless true: As people self-quarantine and isolate themselves, loneliness will quickly become an issue. Reach out over phone, text, email, social media. See how you can help your neighbor or your elderly friend or relative. Close the loneliness gap and be a representative of the God who is near.
- BE FREE OF ANXIETY. This is a time to show how a relationship with our Jesus helps us in time of need. Be anxious for nothing. Be a calming influence on those around you.
- BE PRAYERFUL. Being free of anxiety doesn’t mean sticking our heads in the sand. We need to take all our concerns to God in prayer.
- BE THANKFUL. Pull yourself out of the endless news cycle of panic and spend some time thanking God for what you have. List them out and write them down. Look on the bright side of God’s blessings in our lives.
- BE PETITIONERS OF GOD. Brothers and sisters, time to flex your prayer muscles. Be bold and ask if you can pray for those you meet; it can be an avenue for the Lord to work in their lives.
- BE FULL OF PEACE. The King James Version speaks of “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding.” Thank God for His peace in the midst of the storm. It ought to cause nonbelievers to ask how and why.
- BE GUARDED AND PROTECTED BY PEACE. Finally, let God’s peace guard your mind and your heart. This is a good time to turn off the tv, the radio, the social media, and feed your mind and heart with God’s Word. Let His peace rule your heart (Colossians 3:15).
So cast off that spirit of fear, be strong and courageous, but be wise and discerning. Let your peace, joy, and caring attitude be a light in the darkness that leads people to Christ.