The Pastor’s Piece – March 15, 2020
Fellowship of Christian Farmers
By Kevin Cernek
March 15, 2020
Fear and Panic
The world is a mess. I don’t have to tell you. There’s pandemic panic, there’s financial turbulence with the stock market, people are still digging through the rubble in Tennessee – everyone it seems, is dealing with loss.
If you have been reading the headlines the past few days, you may have wondered whether the world is coming to an end: “Stock Market Bloodbath”; “Anxiety grips companies across the world as virus spreads”; “Italy extends its quarantine to the entire country”; “We’re past the point of containment”; “Coronavirus will cause a child care crisis in America”; “Universities Shut Down”; “30 day travel ban to Europe”.
Sporting events, churches, and public meetings have all been cancelled. The worst is yet to come they’re saying. These headlines are alerting us of a very real and urgent threat the world is facing. Fears about the coronavirus are not unwarranted nor to be taken lightly. Lives are at stake.
But we are also not to let fear control us. Did you know that fear makes you more vulnerable to sickness – even the coronavirus itself? Fear can weaken your immune system.
Worry is a synonym of fear. When you worry, you live through it once when you worry about it, then if it happens in real time, you live through it again.
My first inclination as a pastor is to look to Jesus for words of comfort and guidance. He said, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid,” (John 14:27). Jesus also said: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33).
Jesus knew that fear paralyzes us and hinders our ability to respond effectively to God and to the challenges of life. When you face unstable and uncertain circumstances, what do you do? In situations that stir fear and anxiety and kind of pull the rug out from under my life, I discover in those moments I find out if what I believe about God is really true.
Some people will say: “Oh man, here go those Christians again, they’re not dealing with reality, this is a pandemic,” (or this is a financial disaster, or this is a health issue, or this is life and death)! And they don’t understand why we are looking to the Bible like we are. What do we say to people who say that? Well, first of all, we say: “Where or to whom are you looking for security?” Most people don’t have an answer to that. This is a chance for us to say what we really trust in. If my treasures are in heaven, where nothing can impact them, then what’s happening to my 401k does not have me in turmoil and anxiety. Because my heart is going to go where my treasure is. Have I been looking at that 401k for my sense of confidence about my future? If so, God is giving me a wake up call. If you’re thinking that this virus is going to kill us all, that our days are numbered – well, it is not this virus that is going to determine our days. God is.
These times are a test for the believer. When the storm rolls through, you can look at the circumstances and say: “Ok, am I really standing on the solid rock? Or am I in this only for the quid pro quo – You do this for me God and I will trust in you.”
These calamities can be very helpful occurrences even though nobody wants them. Even the difficulties in our world or in our personal lives are doing a work inside of us showing that God’s word is true. On the night Jesus was to be betrayed, He told His disciples: “Let not your hearts be troubled.” He was saying, put your faith, put your hope in Me.
What happens when we are troubled? We don’t sleep well. Our anxiety goes up, our adrenaline goes up. We might even find ourselves moving into a little depression. And that is not what God made our bodies for. And when we let those things grip our hearts, grip our digestive system, grip our mind, then that trouble is going to shake us, and that is not what God has for us.
We tend to cede control to that which makes us fearful and anxious. But we have a choice on what we will allow to control us. Am I going to give myself over to fear and anxiety and all that other stuff that’s going on or will something else control me in the middle of that?
I’m not saying we put our heads in the sand and ignore these things, there are very responsible things to do – like do what our moms told us to do since we were old enough to understand – wash your hands. (It took a world-wide pandemic to get us to finally listen). But our trust is not in those things. It is in the Lord. God wants us to be aware, He wants us to watch and pray, but He does not want us to be tormented in these situations.
“I lift up my eyes unto the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth,” (Psalms 121:1-2).