Nothing like a health crisis to stir up blind panic.
Today’s New York Times reports that the Chinese government has expanded its campaign to round up suspected victims of the coronavirus beyond the city limits of Wuhan. The Times reports the mass quarantines have been chaotic and some people are being herded onto buses without preventive measures and others are left to die alone.
A few days ago, some pundits were speculating that President Trump, who apparently has a phobia about germs, may respond to the situation with a rash action (pardon me).
Fear is the motivator behind all this. That’s not telling you anything you didn’t know: people fear getting sick, they fear dying, and they especially fear any kind of situation that is beyond the control of themselves or other people.
Fear is the motivator behind climate change activism. It’s the motivator behind protests against pipelines. It’s also the barrier to ministering to people in poor urban areas.
A “progressive” think-tank in the USA recently identified fear as the motivating factor behind conservative reactionism, as opposed to the peaceful calm with which progressives handle situations. I hate to break it to you, kids, but progressives, too, use fear to rally the troops.
But fear happens to be what I call The Eleventh Commandment.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.— Psalm 91:5-6
If you read the “old” King James Version of that passage, it begins, “Thou shalt not fear ….”
That comes across as one of the Commandments, doesn’t it?
And among the things that thou shalt not fear is “pestilence”. Rampant disease. Epidemics. Pandemics. Health emergencies as declared by the World Health Organization.
That’s how Jesus Christ changes the approach to our world: we approach things in faith, not fear.
Faith is the belief that regardless of the circumstances, God will come through for us and be true to His promise.
Fear is the belief that God will not come through for us and be true to His promise.
As Jerry Savelle says, “Fear tolerated is faith contaminated”.
Let’s walk in faith in this and other situations — the faith that we are protected from sickness, we are healed before anything even touches us. If we do get caught up in some totalitarian scheme “in the interests of public safety”, let’s walk in faith that we will not be harmed and use that as an opportunity to witness the Gospel to others. In short, let it be like Jesus’ promise to those who believe:
[In My name] they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them*; they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.”— Mark 16:18
Jesus took care of the biggest fear of all — death — so how much more are we able to handle lesser things, like sickness, climate change, financial considerations or being mugged in a dark alley, with Him on our side?
*Do not take that as an invitation to slug back a bottle of battery acid, or to walk into a pit of cobras with a mouse tied to your belt. We’ll deal with that one another time.