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F words in the face of COVID-19

Fear is the F word that needs to be spoken. We need to name our fears, one by one, so that each one can be addressed.

Many words are floating around about coronavirus, some just under our breath, and a whole bunch start with F. As COVID-19 spreads across Canada, I hear concerns for many facets of life. On the top of the list for many people is the concern for their family, those both far and near. Self-isolation is not kind to our desire to be with extended family. Quarantine is even harsher! But worse yet would be if one of our family members contracted the coronavirus. Fear for family well-being is paramount in our reactions right now. 

Finances are the next big concern, although not as openly discussed. After all, we are not prone to sharing financial details. And yet, there it is, just below the deep breaths we take in, as we wonder how we will ride out this economic slowdown. Some people have been told to stay home – some with pay, some with vacation pay, others with no pay. Businesses, especially small businesses, are the heartbeat of all cities and towns across our nation. How can they make ends meet? Fear about our finances dominates our thoughts right now.

What will the future hold for us, especially as the ground on which we stand is shaking? Uncertainty prompts us to grasp for handrails to steady ourselves. What will tomorrow hold? What will tomorrow look like? Will all the hopes and dreams we had for tomorrow fade into an unknown reality, yet to be realized? Fears for our future are also found just beneath the surface right now.

Food. Now this is an issue openly spoken about between family, friends and neighbours! Do you have enough food to last you for two weeks, one month, or more? Have you noticed how the grocery shelves are barren? Can milk freeze and then be good to drink when thawed? Can I survive on beans and rice when all other supplies run out? How can I afford to buy food in the future when the finances are running out? 

And so the F words blur together; all our fears meld together. Worries about family, finances, food and future all rolled up into one and it becomes harder to separate them. Fear has a way of confusing our minds, compounding one fear on top of the other, until we are beside ourselves with anxiety and battered by waves of dread.

We are scared, Lord
Fear
is the F word that needs to be spoken. We need to name our fears, one by one, so that each one can be addressed. Don’t underestimate the presence and power of fear; it needs to be acknowledged as a reality. Yes, we are scared. Fear exists – it is not just a state of mind. If the Bible says 365 times that we need not be afraid, well, that is proof itself that fear exists. God knows that our worries are real. But fear is not the F word that we should focus on. Faith is!

Faith is the other side of the coin from fear. Faith is the belief that all will be well no matter how it turns out, because faith gives us the strength and courage to face the fears we have. Faith confronts the fears we have and flips them over. Whenever we face danger or a crisis, our tendency is to focus on the problem (the pathology of our society). Instead, we should focus on trust, hope and faith. Faith forces fear to turn “tails” and run.

Ephesians 2: 8, that familiar text from the Apostle Paul, tells us that, “it is by grace we have been saved, through faith – and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God.” Faith is given by God – he is its author. He is the giver of all good gifts, and it is to him that we look as we open each day.

Faith does not protect our families. Faith does not put food on the table. Nor does it keep the cash reserves full. And faith does not predict the future. Faith is what keeps us strong in the face of fear. Faith in the Lord is what enables us to put one foot forward when we do not know where our foot may fall. 

And this kind of faith is what makes us stronger. A tree that does not face any wind is not a strong tree. A tree that withstands gale-force winds can do so because it has deep roots and has grown accustomed to facing the wind. 

May we, by the grace and gift of God, made visible in Christ, face the fears we have concerning our families, finances, food and future. And may we live in these uncertain times by faith – the better F word for our lives.

Author

  • Dale is Pastor of Hope Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Courtice, Ont.

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