Yesterday I received a text from a young woman I baptized several years ago. She asked, “I was wondering if you had suggestions on Bible verses or even parts of the Bible to read for encouragement. I have many family members who are worried and friends I wanted to share some happiness and insight with.”
Two verses came immediately to mind. The first is 2 Timothy 1:7—“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Situations like the one in which the world finds itself with coronavirus can cause an enormous amount of fear. Changes seem to come not just daily, but sometimes hourly. We can’t get a grip on what’s happening because by the time we do, it’s already changed. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the rapid pace and the dire predictions coming at us from every angle.
So what can we do? Thankfully, God has already given us exactly what we need. First, God reminds us of what we have NOT been given—a spirit of fear. We are not to allow fear to overtake us and begin directing our responses and actions. Instead, we are to focus on what God HAS given us. God has given us a spirit of power—we have the ability to take hold of our emotions, even in such a time as this. God has also given us a spirit of love. While our emotions tell us to think about ourselves first, the spirit of love requires us to think of others before ourselves. And finally, God has given us the power of a sound mind. When we conquer our emotions and use the common sense God has given us, tempered with God’s spirit of love, we are better able to make decisions that benefit not only ourselves but the whole of humanity.
The second verse is from 1 Peter 5:7—“Cast all your anxiety on [God] because [God] cares for you.” This verse is the key to HOW we avoid giving into the spirit of fear. We take all that anxiety the drives the fear and give it to God. God knows what to do with it—remove it as far away from us as God does our sin, “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). Why does God bother to do that with our anxiety? Because God cares for us and wants us to care for one another.
It is hard to see any blessings in a situation like this, but I’d like to point out one. Despite social distancing, we are none of us alone. Every other person on the planet is in the same boat. Together we can fight for, pray for, protect, and care for one another. We have an unprecedented opportunity now to encourage and uplift one another. May we all step up and do our part.