“It [is] the best of times, it [is] the worst of times.”1 This phrase of Charles Dickens can apply to many conflicts. Today, for all of us, in the middle of this life-changing pandemic, those words are relevant to our response to present situation. We can’t control this pandemic, but we can control how we react to it.
We see the best in people who continue to deliver meals to shut-ins, those who grocery shop for sick neighbors, teachers who struggle to master Zoom for their students, our first responders, our health care workers, our mail and delivery workers, people who are filling myriad online orders, volunteers who are showing up at the food banks, and so many more. Unfortunately, at times we also see the worst. A car driving by with the back hoarding rolls of paper towels, toilet paper and Purell. Walkers who with complete disregard jump off the sidewalk into the bike lane to maintain a 6-foot distance almost getting themselves and the bikers badly injured or worse, the angry exchanges that I have seen ensue, and while there seems to be a decrease in crime in general, there is an increase in cases of domestic disputes and violence.
The “worst” seems to stem from fear. And yet, the Bible tells us:
God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Tim 1:7
I am not suggesting that we just shrug our shoulders, say God is in control, and continue with our normal routines. With most things closed down, we cannot do that anyway. But if we follow the guidelines of common-sense social distancing, handwashing, using masks where appropriate and living healthy in general, do we still need to continue to live in fear? It seems that faith in God and living in fear are contradictory. Both Paul and James tell us to “give thanks” and “rejoice” not for all circumstances but in all cirumstances.2 Giving fervent and heartfelt thanks to God for the joy that comes from His faithful presence in our life, will wipe away our fear and anxiety.
Today, we are in the midst of a storm, we are unsure of the future and we are constantly tempted to give in to fear and anxiety. The enemy whispers in our ears to hide, give up, fall apart, blame God and give up your faith. But the Bible says:
“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today.” Exodus 14:13
True faith will not buckle under the lies of the enemy. True faith listens and follows the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. “True faith…only hears God saying ‘Stand firm.’ And then it stands as immovable as a rock…It will not be long until God will say…as distinctly as He told Moses to tell the children of Israel, ‘Move on.’” C. S. Spurgeon
Praying today for that deep faith which will enable all of us to stand firm.
1from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
21Thes 5:16-18; James 1:2-4