By Wayne Hollett

Throughout 2020 the world has been in the fierce grip of the fear of the COVID-19 virus. Daily news reports and government updates remind us to live in fear until the saviour vaccine arrives. We are repeatedly told how many people have been infected and the number who have died. The reports almost never include any mention of the vast number of people who have recovered and resumed their daily activities. This deliberately obscured and distorted use of data fuels anxiety in people everywhere, including Christians, who have drifted from a life that is anchored in Jesus Christ.

None of us are immune to fear and anxiety. It is essential to discern that we are more afraid than many of us are admitting. We have fears about the virus and fears about the government. Freedom from fear comes by focusing on who God is, who God says we are and His eternal purposes. We need to study the scriptures and ask God to show us what He is doing.

Not The First Time

This is not the first time such fear has come to the world. After World War II, the fear of Hitler’s Third Reich was soon replaced with something new – the fear of atomic, nuclear, war. At that time C.S. Lewis wrote with godly wisdom and perspective. The following is an excerpt from his essay, “On Living in an Atomic Age”, published in 1948 in the book, Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays. As you read it, substitute “COVID virus” in every place that Lewis writes “atomic”. Remember that prior to COVID, global fear, anxiety and impending doom were being fuelled by climate catastrophe. Keen observers are already noticing that this fearful message has begun to reassert itself as the COVID crisis is fading. Read Lewis a second time and insert “climate catastrophe”.

“In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. ‘How are we to live in an atomic age?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.’

“In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors – anaesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

“This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb – when it comes – find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

There is Hope in Christ

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honour at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”

(Paul’s encouragement to the church in Colossae, in Colossians 3).