Hardships

Where’s the Peace in the World Filled With Fear?

Rachel Ferchak Geckle, with Eric Coe

Next Steps

My dad is part of the population most vulnerable to the new coronavirus.

He has a degenerative illness called multiple system atrophy (MSA). It’s a rare disease that affects the brain stem — more specifically, it attacks and slowly shuts down the respiratory system. The slightest infection could be fatal. Although he’s free of infection right now, the “what ifs” surrounding the coronavirus abound.

“Are you stocked up on medical supplies and all of dad’s special food and his medicines?” I asked my mom in a text this week.

“I am trying! Dad’s food is good for about six weeks,” she responded. “Going to buy more supplies tomorrow morning. ... As many as I can.” She ended her response with a smile emoji.

“OK, that’s good to hear,” I wrote. “I’m really worried about you two.”

“Please don’t worry. We’ll be OK!” Mom texted back with another smile.

“I’m still worried.”

My parents live 900 miles away from me. Visiting them isn’t an option right now, but that’s not the only thing related to COVID-19 weighing on my mind.

I’m worried. I’m a Christian and I’m worried. And, what, if anything, can I do about it?

Everything feels uncertain. My mind often jumps to worst-case scenarios. I have no control over this pandemic. No control over who visits my parents. No control over what germs are in the area. No control over whether a loved one will contract COVID-19. No control over whether my city locks down. No control over whether another recession is on the horizon.

I’m worried. I’m a Christian and I’m worried. And, what, if anything, can I do about it?

I have a low-level anxiety disorder, which is under control. But circumstances still arise that bring up natural fears and concerns. 

One minute I hear, “It’s not that bad.” And then I hear the constant stream of updated numbers — of countries on lockdown, travel restrictions, cases and deaths, reports on the global economy. The uncertainty brings my anxiety back up.

Living in Florida, I’m used to waiting out storms — namely hurricanes. You watch the news, check for updates repeatedly and wait. You don’t know how it’ll affect you, but still you wait. When things are out of your control, an underlying anxiety and fear inevitably come.

The global pandemic is causing me to experience similar emotions.

How do I walk through this when it all feels daunting?

Acknowledging your fears is a good first step.

The next step can be harder: Remember.

Remember that God enters into your anxiety and tells you to share our concerns with Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Remember to go to Him with your burdens, and He will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30). Remember that He has provided you with perfect peace through a living hope (Philippians 4:6-7). And remember that God-given peace does not make natural sense.

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. 

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 you so you could know Him will wipe away your every tear.

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.

God is no stranger to suffering, devastation or carrying heavy burdens. God entered into our hurting world to rescue us. Through His Son, Jesus, He walked among us and experienced all we have gone through and will go through.

Jesus says in the Gospel of John, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (14:6, New International Version). Through dying a humiliating death on a cross, He took the penalty for our shortcomings. Through His resurrection, Jesus has made the way for us to have a relationship with God. Because of Jesus, we have a 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 certainty with God brings me back to the peace that doesn’t make sense. Regardless of someone’s faith, anxiety and fear are natural tendencies. This world was not created for sickness, for death, for sorrow, for instability. But through Jesus, you can have peace within all the uncertainty and still hope for the future.

Peace doesn’t mean you ignore the risks or avoid thinking about the situation. Peace isn’t saying, “Oh, everything will be fine.” Peace doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take proper precautions for your safety and the well-being of others. (We still need to take responsibility and follow the guidelines of health experts and officials.)

Peace is acknowledging that the circumstances are bad and may get worse but, by trusting in Jesus, having hope in the midst of those circumstances. 

We have the opportunity to live unafraid because of a hope that isn’t based on wearing a mask or the development of a vaccine but that rests in a relationship with the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.

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