A Time to Speak
You may be feeling anxious; if so, you are not alone.
Worry about the extent to which the COVID-19 virus will impact us personally and what the future of our world will look like is the concern of today. This is a legitimate emotional and intellectual response to what life has brought our way. We should be concerned and we should do the things we have been instructed to do to handle the situation appropriately.
While we understand we have just cause for concern, many are afraid but are not acknowledging their fear. It’s normal to be afraid when something scares us. And hearing negative news about people suffering and dying, about the reduced availability of necessary supplies, about longer isolation time, about job losses, and about economic crises is scary. But it is not okay, however, to feel afraid and to avoid it or deny it.
Scripture says that God has not given us a spirit of fear (see 2 Timothy 1:7); however, the current life situation has made us afraid. How do we Christians who feel afraid resolve this inner conflict?
God created within us the ability to have emotions, and fear is the emotion we express when we feel afraid. Having a spirit of fear is living fearful so that we engage in fear mongering. But being afraid in a moment when something is scary is not maintaining a spirit of fear, rather, it is our natural reaction to what has scared us. To overcome fear so that we don’t develop a spirit of fear we must learn how to address fear in a healthy way.
Many handle fear through avoidance. One tries to avoid fear by being busy. The belief is if we can focus on busy work we won’t feel afraid. While this may be a momentary remedy, it’s just a band aid. At the end of the day, when our busy work is done, and it’s time to lay our head down for rest, we can’t rest because, now, we have time to worry about what we fear.
Another way many handle fear is through denial. We make proclamations of “faith over fear.” We proclaim that God is fighting the battle. We pull out tangible items to symbolize God’s protective covering like lucky charms to protect us from bad luck. But then, at the end of the day, we remember there are others who have proclaimed our same “faith over fear,” but, yet, they are suffering or they have died. And, now, while it’s time for the world to be asleep, we’re left alone with our thoughts and confronted with the reality of our fear.
We lie to ourselves when we avoid or deny feelings of fear when we are afraid. And these are unhealthy responses that may lead to long-term patterns of anxiety. While there is certainly nothing wrong with staying busy and proclaiming faith, it’s important to be honest with ourselves and deal with the fear we may be feeling but are not admitting to anyone else.
The Bible tells us to be anxious for nothing. (See Philippians 4:6.) This doesn’t mean that we are to never feel fear about scary things. It simply means we are to take control by dealing with our fear appropriately.
So, if you’re feeling afraid but have been reluctant to acknowledge it, there is a better way to help yourself than through avoidance and denial. Here are four simple steps you can follow.
Be honest with yourself and with God. Admitting to God that you are afraid is not sinful. God created us to have emotional responses, and fear is our natural defense mechanism in response to something that scares us. This pandemic is legitimately scary. When you talk to God openly about being afraid, you invite Him in to help.
Stay in the moment with Him and tell him what your fear feels like. Describe the possible circumstances that worry you. Then tell Him you want to trust Him.
Ask God for help. Pray words like “Lord I believe but help my unbelief.” Acknowledge to Him that you desire His strength in the midst of your weakness.
Then visualize what trust in Him looks like in the midst of what is scary. Engage in mindfulness by remembering scriptures that promise that God helps us when we ask. Visualize His help working in your life. Think about what it feels like to experience His safety. Recall the scriptures (look them up and read them) that refer to God as having wings of protection. Visualize a baby bird sitting under its mother’s protective wings then visualize yourself sitting under God’s protective wings. Then accept God's help and thank Him for helping you.
The Bible says “He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction” (Psalm 107:20, ESV). The Bible also says knowing the truth makes us free (see John 8:31-32). When we are afraid yet acknowledge the reality of our feelings, our truthfulness opens the door for us to find freedom and deliverance.
Today, it’s time to speak to reality the right way and find His peace in the midst of the chaos.