The scientific answer is that fast-moving molecules zooming through our gaseous atmosphere work against gravity. Or something like that.
But what’s the practical answer? How do we handle “the sky is falling” mass hysteria? How do we stop fear from swallowing us whole?
Just 10 years ago, we feared losing our jobs, our homes and our savings. Now we’ve got to fear losing our health, too. The coronavirus has us canceling trips, selling stocks, and stockpiling dry goods. All of Italy is on lockdown. March Madness will be played with no fans in the stands. The World Health Organization has declared a pandemic. James Bond—who has foiled the plots of madmen, tycoons and killers—met his match when 007’s next installment, “No Time To Die,” was pushed from April to November.
All this, due to this virus that hopped species in a live animal market 7,000 miles away.
By now you’ve read its scientific name, COVID-19.
You may have also seen its less-technical name, fear. Fear is the worst four-letter f-word there is. It upsets our stomachs and upends our plans. It floods our bloodstream with cortisol and our minds with worry. It spreads like a … virus.
We often put faith and fear on opposite ends of the spectrum. As my pastor says: fear paralyzes. Faith propels.
But here’s another dichotomy in play right now. It’s fear and love. The New Testament book of I John tell us that perfect love drives out fear. The root of this particular word for fear means to avoid, flee or withdraw because of dread. It’s panic flight. In other words, love drives out dread.
So deep breath, everyone. How are we doing?
Is perfect love reigning in our hearts? At our dining room tables? In our social media posts? On our shopping lists? Because this is our time to shine. This is our time to embody Psalm 34:4-5. This is our time to play show and tell with peace.
If you’ve been feeling a little shaky, that’s ok. The Lord regards our humble estate. He knows how hard it is here on earth. He’s not analyzing this from some distant throne. He walked here. He lived here. And in His kindness and wisdom, He reminds us over and over not to fear. Some have said there are 365 “fear not” phrases in the Bible. We are called—commanded, even—to be people who do not fear. Even in crisis. Especially in crisis.
I was reminded the other day of a story involving a mid-19th century “megachurch” pastor. A rising star, young 22-year-old Charles Spurgeon was preaching to a packed house of 12,000 at London’s Surrey Gardens Music Hall. Another 10,000 are said to have gathered outside, straining just to hear sound bites.
Then pranksters yelled, “Fire.”
The panic that ensued as people pushed, fled and trampled their way to “safety” left eight dead and 28 badly injured. The Spurgeon Center records an eyewitness account this way: “The cries and shrieks were truly terrific. They pressed on, treading furiously over the dead and dying, tearing frantically at each other.”
May it not be.
May we not be panic preppers or disaster hunters. May we go in when others flee. May we be people of faith, not fear. May we be steady when the stock market isn’t. May we be informed without being alarmed. May we grasp that the times are historic but we needn’t be hysteric. At the end of every single thing that makes us afraid, may we remember the Lord is there, driving out dread with His love.
I’ve been listening this week. I knew a phrase was coming and sure enough it showed up Monday in a story charting the 2,000-point drop in the Dow. “The sky is falling,” a hedge fund manager declared. It’s the catch phrase in a folk tale that began with an acorn plunking a hen in the head and ended with a fox licking his chops. Even in children’s books, flock mentality doesn’t end well.
The sky is not falling. Gravity won’t let it. And if we’re so close to the Father’s heart of love that we’re driving out dread, we won’t let it either.
It’s our time to shine.
So let’s shine.
~ Deut. 31:8, Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 26:3, 43:1, Psalm 34:4-5, 118:6, I Peter 5:7, I John 4:18
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