It’s time to put fear back where it belongs. But as children navigate their return to school and a new season of ministry begins amid climbing COVID numbers, it’s easier said than done, right?
The mainstream media doesn’t do anything to help put fear back where it belongs. After all, fear sells. Case in point: a recent front-page headline (bold and underlined, no less) on a popular Canadian magazine shouts “The Back-to-School-Crisis! An impossible pandemic balancing act has forced parents to quit their jobs. Now everything—from the fight to stop the virus to the fate of the economy—rides on the safe return to class.”
As the days tick by into September, it’s the number one conversation around the virtual water-coolers. How do we keep our kids safe? How do we care for their academic, social, emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual needs? Fear raises its ugly head and taints our days with its poison.
Conversations are good and we need to make carefully informed decisions. However, this is not the time for panic. It’s time for people of faith to put fear back where it belongs.
The phrase “do not fear” (or similar words like “fear not” or “do not be afraid”) appears in the Bible hundreds of times. According to some counts, there are 365 references, enough “fear nots” for each day of the year.
Why is that little phrase repeated so often, you might wonder. Probably because the folks in Bible times had to learn and re-learn that command just as often as we do now!
Here are five important truths to help you put fear where it belongs and face the future with peace.
God knows you (and your kids) personally.
“But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
Put your name, or your kids’ names, into that verse where it says “Jacob” and “Israel.” Now read it again. God knows you on an intimate level. He cares about you—and your kids—more than you can possibly imagine. When you face difficult times, you can rest in the knowledge that you are known, you are redeemed. You are His.
God is going back to school/church, too. (Not that He ever left!)
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Whether you go back to the classroom or stay home, do in-person ministry or meet virtually, God is there and He is at work. You can move forward with courage. Jesus conquered death and fear a long time ago. He is Emmanuel, God with us. Right now, right here.
Prayer unlocks the chains of fear.
“I prayed to the Lord and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)
When the threat of sickness hangs over your head and there are decisions to be made for which there are no ready answers, fear is the default. But when you take those fears to Jesus, He promises freedom. Rest in the knowledge that He is in control and will help you make the big decisions. You don’t want your kids to face difficulty. You don’t want to face it either! But if and when it comes (and it will), Jesus is right there with you.
Focus your heart.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
As Jesus-followers, we can rely on the Holy Spirit’s power to help us overcome the spirit of fear. Remember…the same power that rose Jesus from the dead, lives in us! (Romans 8:11). Some Bible translations use “self-control” in place of “a sound mind.” Do you have self-control when it comes to following all-things-COVID in the news and on social media, even if you’re not sure about the truth behind them? Is it easy to criticize all of the latest developments or blame certain groups for what they’re doing or not doing? Finding ways to express our love and care for others goes a long way in overcoming fear as we focus our heart on the truth.
“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” (Proverbs 12:25).
Fear is a demanding master and everyone deals with it differently. If you see others struggling, take a moment to encourage them, in person or with a phone call, email or text. If conversations tend toward the negative, make an effort to bring something positive into the discussion. As you deal with rules and regulations and masks and lines; practice kindness, patience and joy rather than complaining.
As we move forward with care, we put fear back where it belongs and face the future with confidence. It doesn’t mean there won’t be hard decisions to make or that we will always know what to do, but we can rest in Jesus’ promise:
“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
Kelly Rempel is the Director of Creative Communications for One Hope Canada.