“On a scale of 1-10, how afraid are you of the corona-virus,” my eye-doctor asked me at my exam yesterday. I answered “zero,” because I tend to present myself over-confident.
But then it got me thinking.
This year, Covid-19 ushered in a global panic, and it’s not just a fear of illness and death and the unknown.
Investors and those living paycheck-to-paycheck have major financial worries. And there’s the very real FOMO (fear of missing out) affecting many of us as our plans get canceled. It feels like one person’s fear of illness catalyzes another’s fear of being denied a pined-for experience.
We respond to fear differently too. One person exaggerates, another exasperates. Some roll eyes at poorly-sourced news, others scroll screens to find smidgens of new information; both are vying for a sense of control and stability.
At first, I was arrogantly annoyed by the fear-mongering. My break from social-media preserved me from the immersion of toxic of over-thinking. The other night though, the “what if’s” surfaced and I couldn’t sleep. I needed another look at the World Health Organization’s updates; I needed to feel control.
That’s what information falsely promises: a sense of control. It’s like a placebo effect that wears off the moment we unplug from the screen. So we return to the screen, the newspaper, or our favorite channel to stay in-the-know (advertisers count on it!).
That night, as my mind reeled, God compelled me: “come to Me first.” I shrugged a “yes” to God in my groggy state, and blessedly, found rest. A few hours of REM sleep later, I woke ready to read my Bible. I turned to 2 Timothy, the passage our students were reading in youth group last night, and picked up where we left off.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Tim. 1:7
My jaw dropped at the perfect timing of this verse. I sat and unpacked the implications all morning. Eventually, I did check for updates on the virus, but the information did not affect my level of fear or need for control. God had already taken care of that through His word.
I didn’t need more world news. I needed the Good News.
I’ll share my aha-moments from 2 Timothy soon, but for now, would you join me in turning to the Lord first for reassurance in the chaos? As God’s people, we can approach fear differently, by holding the hand of our big, good Father, whom no scary thing can threaten.