There are many reasons to be anxious in the world we live in.
Yesterday it was the rate of the Sing dollar. Changes in oil prices and the global economy mean that money is worth substantially less than it was two days ago. How will I be able to afford rent, food, life? How will my family be affected?
Today, it is a global pandemic. As the coronavirus spreads throughout countries of the world, travel is restricted and events are cancelled, quarantines are imposed and personal contact is limited. Can I still go to work? To classes? How can I protect myself and the people I love from sickness?
These kinds of situations — whether the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis, or something different — can cause us to feel fear and anxiety. And that fear and anxiety can cause us to go to one of two extremes.
The first extreme is fatalism. We throw up our hands and say, “What happens, happens. I’m going to choose not to be affected and to continue to live my life, and not worry about the ways that these events impact me or others around me.”
The other extreme is control. We feel paralyzed by anxiety and spend all of our mental, and physical energy dwelling on the worst-case scenario. So, since our fate is out of our hands, we respond by trying to control everything we possibly can — even the things that we can’t.
How can we navigate the tension between fatalism and control? How can we have peace and hope during this global crisis, instead of fear and anxiety?
Take the Long View
How you deal with fear and anxiety depends in no small part on what you believe about life and death.
If indeed this life is all there is, we have reason to be afraid. Around every corner, with every street we cross and every hand we shake, the end could be waiting for us. If this physical life is all that we have, then every moment counts, and every danger must be avoided.
The Bible tells us something different. In the Bible we learn that life is not just a moment that is here and then gone, but rather that people were made for eternity.
We learn that God created people in His image, in order that we would know Him and experience His love. We learn that while our physical bodies are here for but a moment, our souls live on. We learn that the decisions we make in this life matter, that eternity is real, and that life has consequences.
The picture of eternity described in the Bible has two different outcomes. One is an outcome where our fate and future depends on the things that we do. Did we live a good enough life? Did we do enough good things? Did we measure up to the standard?
And the answer to these questions is always, “No.” Because the standard is the very holiness of God, which is perfection. All of us, no matter how good we live, fall far short of God’s standard of perfect holiness.
And the outcome of these shortcomings — what the Bible calls sin — is death. Physical death in this life, and eternal separation from God in eternity.
This is why Jesus came. The perfect Son of God took on the punishment for our shortcomings so that we could experience the forgiveness and love of God. This outcome is life. It is freedom and peace in the knowledge that Jesus has paid for the consequences of our sin, and our future is secure.
Not just for this short season of physical life, but for all eternity to come.
The knowledge that the choices made in this life impact eternity keeps us from spiraling toward fatalism. Having certainty about our future impacts our present and makes it possible to have peace in the midst of uncertainty.
Recognise Who is in Control
There are things that we have control over. And there are things outside of our control.
You can wash your hands and use best practices to avoid contact with people. You can take steps to protect yourself and others. You can save your money, convert it to foreign currency, and invest in things that will last.
These are all very good and necessary steps. They are things that we can and must do.
But you can’t control what already happened yesterday. You can’t control who you had contact with, what you’ve already been exposed to, what has already happened. While you have control over your own actions, you can’t control the actions of others. You likely have little control over the price of oil, the rates set by Monetary Authority of Singapore, or the trade war between China and the US.
There is so much that is out of our control.
But nothing is outside of God’s control.
This doesn’t mean you won’t get sick, or that you won’t catch coronavirus. It doesn't mean the ruble rate will swing in your favor.
But the Bible describes a God who is not indifferent to the details of our lives. It describes a God who knows us personally, who cares for us deeply, and for whom nothing is out of His control. We live in a world broken by sin, and unfortunately, the consequences of sin remain.
Accepting forgiveness through Jesus gives us certainty in our eternal future. And experiencing the power and peace of God as the One who controls all things can give us certainty in the present — even in the hardest of circumstances.
The Broken Things of the World Will One Day Get Fixed
But God isn’t content for us to continue to live in a broken world. That may be our present, but it is not our future. God gives us a promise that, in eternity, something better awaits.
A world with no sickness. A place of security and stability. Loss and grief will no longer overtake us. Death will no longer reign. And the God who made us to know Him will wipe away our every tear.
This is only possible if indeed Jesus overcame death and the grave through His death and resurrection. If this life is all that we have, there is reason to be afraid. But if the Bible is true, there is hope that extends beyond the short window of our lives.
And if we have experienced the forgiveness that Jesus offers, we can look to the future with peace and joy, regardless of the present circumstances.
This world was not created for sickness, for death, for sorrow, for instability. We were made for eternity and for hope. And through Jesus, we can have them.
● More information: How can you stay emotionally healthy even in social distancing or isolation?
● Additional resources: What does Jesus have to say to us during the COVID-19 crisis?
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