The Covid “Delta Variant” is here and so more fear mongering seems to again be plaguing our world, nation, state, and city. We’re now approaching two years into responding to a mysterious virus that arrived unexpectedly and continues to profoundly impact everything. And, as of now, there is no reliable sense of when the perceived threat, and the turmoil it brings, will end. Nor is there any true sense of agreement or unity as to how organized society should respond individually or corporately going forward. What could have been a marvelous opportunity to draw people together against a common foe, has been lost as fear motivated disagreement has split us, exploding even lifelong friendships and blood family relationships.
Why? Because while we must obediently “mask up” in public, the virus is at the same time unmasking our hearts. People’s true character is getting exposed as they’re asked to not just consider, but to declare, what really matters to them. Circumstances have ruled silence or passivity on the great questions of life no longer an option. More and more we are now forced into public declarations on those uncomfortable “politics and religion” questions that have heretofore been deemed socially unsafe to talk about in polite company.
To say that I am constantly thinking about what God may now be doing as Sovereign over all—which means the virus too—is an understatement. I think about the life-and-death importance of noble Christian testimony in crisis, and I want to get it right. I pray for our church, and its array of ministries, to continue to respond well. I want to please God with my personal witness.
In my contemplations that tend to fuel research, I found something helpful from John Piper entitled “13 Reasons Not to Be Afraid.” The list applies to Christians, redeemed by faith in Christ alone, and comes complete with specific Scripture references underpinning each reason. I pass these on to you today, with full credit to Pastor John:
- We will not die apart from God’s gracious decree for his children (James 4:15; Matthew 10:29–30; Deuteronomy 32:39).
- Curses and divination do not hold sway against God’s people (Numbers 23:23).
- The plans of terrorists and hostile nations do not succeed apart from our gracious God (Psalm 33:10; Isaiah 8:9–10).
- Man cannot harm us beyond God’s gracious will for us (Psalm 118:6; Psalm 56:11).
- God promises to protect his own from all that is not finally good for them (Psalm 91:14).
- God promises to give us all we need to obey, enjoy, and honor him forever (Matthew 6:33; Philippians 4:19).
- God is never taken off guard (Psalm 121:4).
- God will be with us, help us, and uphold us in trouble (Isaiah 41:10, 13).
- Terrors will come, some of us will die, but not a hair of our heads will perish (Luke 21:10–11, 18).
- Nothing befalls God’s own but in its appointed hour (John 7:30).
- When God Almighty is your helper, none can harm you beyond what he decrees (Hebrews 13:6; Romans 8:31).
- God’s faithfulness is based on the firm value of his name, not the fickle measure of our obedience (1 Samuel 12:20–22).
- The Lord, our protector, is great and awesome (Nehemiah 4:14)
What I love about this list is the centrality of Scripture. I could probably come up with a few more Scripture-backed reasons to add to John’s list, but please realize that anyone can find these assurances if they go with intentionality to the Bible, the single source of eternal truth. You do not need me, Pastor John, or anyone really, to serve as a mediator in your accessing of the truth.
As the world we knew has seemingly spiraled downward with unprecedented speed over the last two years, many sincere believers have asked me if we are indeed in the end times. My response is always the same: “I don’t know, but as a believer, you have nothing to fear.” I also remind them we have more pressing things to focus on. I always seek to encourage people to live faithfully, and therefore fully, in the here and now.
Young ones, assuming you have saving faith, pursue your heart desires because God made you for this moment in history. Young couples, allow God to bless you with children, even though the future—in your temporal view—may not look bright for them. Those of you in your middle years, delight in God’s graces that got you this far, and be sure He will hold you fast as He already has for decades. Older ones—you grey hairs like me—rejoice in the unimaginable promise of eternity in fellowship with God. In short, yes, the daily news is terrible, but it should not be paralyzing. Because God is who He is, we do indeed have nothing to fear!
Am I personally tempted at times to choose low character responses to the heavy circumstances all around me? Yes, that is just me being a Christian short of glory. However, in my clearer moments of faith, I see that I should fear to disobey my good and gracious God more than any temporal developments. What is Jesus asking of me in our present age? I’m not all the way sure yet, but my prayer is that I will be counted as faithful on the day of my judgment. John Henry Sammis' hymn from 1887 perhaps most elegantly evokes the primary lesson from today’s blog: "Trust and obey, for there's no other way!"