First Promise for Fighting Fear
I suspect most of us haven’t worn a mask in the public square since the last time we went “trick or treating” as a kid. Some masks are designer looking, some with logos, some with lots of colors, and others are the plain medical looking mask right out of the surgery center.
Please do not misunderstand me, I am not making a political statement. I suspect some of you have friends, family, co-workers, fellow church members or frontline workers pass away because of COVID-19. It hurts. Death always does. My mother and father passed away within six months of each other at the end of 2019, and “that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.”
But I want to ask an emotive (or personal) question about your inner being — the fear or anxiety inside you. Why are people putting on masks? A friend told me he wears a mask in public to ease the anxieties of others who are afraid. “Afraid of what?”, I asked, “Getting sick?”
Whether you wear a literal mask or not during this pandemic is not the point. The mask is a metaphor, in some sense, for the fear of death people have.
Christianity has a lot to say about that kind of fear. Most people live enslaved by their fear of death. In fact, one of the reasons Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection happened was to bring freedom to those enslaved in the fear of death.
“Since [humans] have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his (Jesus Christ) death he might destroy him who holds the power of death…and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14, 15). One writer long ago wrote it was “The death of death in the death of Christ.”
Do you know the most common command in the Bible? Do not be afraid. Fear not. Why? Because Life is a risk and there is a lot to be afraid of, correct? It’s a hostile world. And the world’s way to dealing with fear is to tell you to “Be strong. Have more self-confidence. Be positive not negative.” Or perhaps your therapist will tell you to fight fear with a stronger fear (like fearing death so protect yourself) or visualize yourself being strong.
I think Paul, the missionary apostle, had to struggle with fear more than any other New Testament person. I think the fear of death was a companion his whole life. I mean, people were constantly plotting ways to kill him.
So with his words, I want to encourage (“in courage”) you, or put courage back into you, with one key promise to fighting fear that Paul uses:
Remember His Presence.
Jesus promised, “I am with you. I will never leave you or abandon you”. No matter how bad it looks, you are NOT alone. Not alone in the universe, not alone in the pandemic or in unemployment. If you are his son/daughter, you have God present. Now that is good news in itself, because if you live by the storyline of this world you got nothing. You are a zero, and all alone in this cosmic accident.
Some story is shaping your life. That story is how you interpret life’s ups and downs. To live life at its fullest capacity, we need a compelling story that makes sense as to why things are the way they are: good, beautiful, wonderful.
And why things are not the way they ought to be: death, pain, pandemics, suffering, racism, injustice, cancer, and hurricanes?
Everyone centers life on something or someone because the heart has to have something. Life is a story. The Backstory to the Gospel Story is that God made all things. He made you in his image with beauty and wonder. But because of our first parents, you and all things are ruined. You know you are alienated from others, from yourself, from this world/work/mission, and ultimately from God.
Why? Because a curse was placed on us. The Curse of Death. “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:2). We will die personally, but also eternally and spiritually.
But God loved, and sent Jesus the Christ. The One Promised. God the Father put your sin — your ruin — on Jesus, God the Son. And punished him in your place. He died your death. That is your rescue.
When you turn from self-saving ways of religion or running, and believe that his life, death, and resurrection is for you, he forgives and gives you his life/record. Immediately. There is a righteousness that comes from God to you!
God’s promise to Paul and to you is, “I am with you, I will never leave you.”
God’s love is the antidote to fear. How do we know His promise is true? How do we fight fear with God’s love and not our will or strength?
Jesus Christ was abandoned for you. Put faith in the One who, in the Garden, stayed. When He was lied about and rejected, He stayed. On the cross, He cried out, Why Father have you abandoned me? He was ruined, but He stayed. He lost the presence of Father so you will never have to. Jesus will never leave you or abandon you. He was raised back to life and ever lives for us. We no longer fear death because He lives. You are not alone. We get the gift of His Holy Spirit in us.
We put on faith in His contra-conditional love, it’s the only antidote to fear. And we confess our fear; “Lord I don’t have courage. Help me with my unbelief. Lord I am afraid. I have no record on which to rely. I can’t fix this. But you are with me always.”
Next time I write, I will share the second of the 3 promises to fight fear.
Thank you ð it was very inspiring n inspiration I really suffer from bad panic n this help blessings
Just a note: Wearing a mask during a pandemic is not just based in fear. It is mostly based in "wisdom" which God gives us, and respect and "love of fellow man" which God requires. In addition, it is not courageous to say "I refuse to wear a mask because God is my savior." God protects us but if I run into the road and stand there waiting for a speeding vehicle to run me down, I may well get run over. God allowed it, but I laid the groundwork. Amen.