While plotting out my blog plan for April, I originally scheduled a post for today on being creative and keeping busy at home. Instead, on a whim, I sat down and typed up something a little different that I want to share with you.
I want to ask you a question that has been haunting me since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
A few days ago, I listened as a popular vlogger tearfully assured her viewers that it is okay to be afraid. We are living in scary times, she reminded. You don't have to pretend everything is all right, because it's not. People are being hurt. Bad things are taking place. Go ahead and be upset.
I understand the desire to be sensitive toward those who are actually hurting from COVID-19 - but I can't bring myself to believe that she is right.
The topic of FEAR is such a deep and complex one that I hesitate to even dip my toes in and say a word about it. But I want to challenge my Christian readers with this -
Is it okay to be afraid?
FEAR itself is not a sin. It is an emotion, plain and simple. But there comes a point when we are given the choice to make it into more than that. Emotions are the kind of thing that will "rule or be ruled". We make the choice whether they define us or not.
Fear becomes dangerous when we justify it.
It's all right to be afraid. Yes, God has it under control, but you can still be upset. In times like these, that's only natural.
But can that kind of FEAR or anxiety and our FAITH in Christ really go hand-in-hand?
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
How can we justify fear when He has already overcome the world?
If you think about it, letting ourselves fall prey to FEAR is essentially telling Jesus "yes, I believe that You are the almighty Son of God who has saved me from my sin, BUT, I don't trust You enough to take care of this, so I'll go on worrying about tomorrow."
As Christians, we are a new creation. Obviously life as a Christian is not guaranteed to be easy, but we are guaranteed that God will never leave us, and we are promised eternal life.
That kind of hope should look different from the rest of the world.
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18)
We are given a reason to rejoice and "be of good cheer". In fact, we are commanded to (Philippians 4:4-7). The joy of the Lord is our strength and our witness to the world.
Yes, fear is a natural, God-given emotion, but not one that we should be giving ourselves permission to dwell on. Justifying the right to be upset doesn't help us relate to those who are hurting or project an image of sensitivity -
it projects an image of someone who doesn't really believe what they say they do.
Reading through 1 John, I am constantly overwhelmed by the common theme of joy that runs through every chapter. Living joyfully is an indelible mark of any passionate Christian. It does not mean that we turn a blind eye to the anxieties and very real fears of others. In fact, it does the exact opposite.
By obeying Christ's command, "fear not", and countering our emotions with the TRUTH of His Word, we are set free to offer TRUE compassion and TRUE love to the world around us. We are no longer trapped in our own bubble of self-preservation and anxiety. Instead, we become shining lights of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
So is it all right to be afraid?
Fear is inevitable. Maybe the real question is, when you are afraid, will you trust in Him?