Unless you have been living in another planet within the last few weeks, by now you already know of Coronavirus which the World Health Organisation recently declared as a global pandemic. Little did anyone know that what started as a localised infection in a small community in China would eventually move swiftly across borders infecting and killing people in various countries of the world.
Expectedly, the immediate reaction of many has been fear. Governments of many countries have closed schools, restricted movement and taken measures to ensure that the virus does not spread among its populace. Anywhere you turn, you can see that people are afraid although as it is typical for the British, many are putting up a brave face although you can see them flinch if you cough or sneeze near them.
Cambridge dictionary defines fear as, “an unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when frightened or worried by something dangerous, painful or bad that is happening or might happen“. The Corona virus pandemic qualifies for one of those things that can cause the emotion as mentioned in that definition above. It is dangerous, painful and bad and it is happening now.
Does this mean therefore that it is okay for us to be fearful? I believe that in built in everyone is that mechanism to fear when we are facing imminent danger. This is what physiologists refer to as “fight or flight response”. This kind of fear lasts only for as long as the immediate danger is present.
There is however a kind of fear which Christians are not meant to accommodate and that is, anxiety and worry. While “flight or fight response” is a reaction to things we can see, anxiety and worry are often linked to things real or imagined. Extreme cases of anxiety can result in physical and mental health issues and in some cases death.
At this time when we are all faced with the spread of the Coronavirus, what should be the attitude of the Christian? I believe we should be reminding ourselves of the promises in the Bible. One of those promises is found in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”. We have it straight from scripture, “Do not fear!”
Secondly, we should reassure ourselves that God loves and cares for us. In 1 John 4:18 we are told that, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” When we walk in the assurance that God loves us, it makes it easy for us to take all our fears, anxiety and worry to Him knowing that He has all the answers and solutions to whatever problems we face.
Thirdly, focus on others. If we focus on what we can do to help others especially the elderly who are more vulnerable to the disease, it takes our minds away from being anxious. There are a couple of scriptures that encourage us to think about helping others, “ And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16). “not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:4)
Finally, we need to pray. We need to pray for God’s mercy, for the healing and recovery of those already infected and for the protection of those who are at the forefront of caring for those who are infected.
What we must not do is to be paralysed by fear. That is not who we are called to be.