Lately I’ve been reading passages in the scriptures that tell me “Do not fear.” Fear can be a constant nagging companion these days. I have a son and daughter-in-law who have compromised immune systems. I have a daughter who is expecting a child. I have many friends who live in rooming houses where a ravaging virus could do its worst. I recall a cold/flu I had last year at this time that took me weeks and weeks to get over. I never worried that I would die but some nights I worried that I wouldn’t! All these concerns (read fear) mount one on top of the other. I am not paralysed by these concerns (read fear). They seem to me sensible in many ways, and so I puzzle over how I should ‘fear not’.
To not fear seems a call to be less, or perhaps more, than human. This fear drives me to social distance. It reminds me to wear a mask. It keeps me inside, all very sensible activities, or inactivities.
So, what am I to make of all the biblical injunctions not to fear?
In my study I have come to realize that the command to ‘not fear’ is accompanied, either explicitly or implicitly, with an alternative. Scripture invites me to ‘take courage’. This signifies that the ‘courage’ resides in a source outside of me. I take courage by following the admonition “Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you.” I take my concerns (read fears) to God and leave them with him and receive from him a supply of courage to face the moment.
I give him my doubts that God can see me through and instead I exercise trust that no matter what God is good and his love toward me endures forever.
These days have led me to a place of new appreciation for the benchmark Paul sets when he writes “Pray without ceasing.” I cast my fear and take the courage I need for the moment, only to soon return and rely on God yet again. Rinse and repeat!
I don’t know what this virus would do if let loose in my son’s home. I don’t know what the effects would be on an expectant mother or on my unborn grandson. I don’t know how my inner-city friends would fare if the virus came to their doors. There is much I do not know.
Certain things I do know. God is good! These things haven’t happened yet. I ought to do my level best to see that I never contribute to them happening!
The things I need to ask myself are: “Is this fear reasonable?” and “Have I taken it to God?” Then knowing his grace is sufficient for me and that his power can be evident through my weakness, I take courage, for the moment.
I have other things to occupy me, as well. This week I meet with a videographer to discuss developing promotional material for our Threshold House project. The next week a team of plumbers will descend on the building and rip out all the old pipes and replace them all, and rough in our new shower room. Volunteers have been doing the lawn care, but we will soon have to purchase a dual-purpose lawn/snowblower tractor and buy or build a baby-barn to store equipment in.
All this strains our budget while our income is not where we hoped it would be. We cast this too on God knowing He cares about it as well.