Whenever God allows a crisis, such as a pandemic, He uses it to draw people to Himself. This virus is often described as a plague. We should remember that when plagues came in biblical times, they did not stop until people looked to God. We are being reminded that we are frail. While it may feel that we have lost control, our eyes are only being opened to the truth that we were never in control.
Fear is one of the side-effects of thinking we are in control when we are not. Writing to Christians scattered by persecution, Peter wrote, “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:14-15).
The Attractive Nature of Hope
Peter was actually quoting from Isaiah. There was a day when Israel faced a threat so serious that “the heart of the people shook as the trees” (Isaiah 7:2). God sent Isaiah to comfort, but a chapter later, Isaiah was shaking in fear. So God said to him, “Do not fear what they fear…but the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear…and he will become a sanctuary” (Isaiah 8:12-14). Peter drew from this story to say, “I know you’re afraid. Isaiah was afraid too. But if you’re afraid like everyone else, you won’t be a light. Now is the time to see Christ as holy and run to Him. If you will, Christ will give you hope, and this hope will be attractive to a world trembling in fear.”
The Confusion of Fearful Christians
At the heart of Peter’s instruction are these words: “Have no fear…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy.” When Christ is our Lord, we can resist fear. But when we are acting as lord of our life, everything we cannot control (i.e., stock market, grocery store supplies, health) creates fear. For some, this fear turns into anger. Many trust a gospel that says, “If I say ‘yes’ to God, He will make me as safe as I desire.” This puts man on the throne and God as the servant. When this broken world presses in on them, they become resentful of God, who has not made their lives as safe as they desired. This resentment is noticeable and confusing to the world.
The Fear-Crushing Sovereignty of God
When we see Christ as holy and yield our lives to Him as Lord, we draw near to the One who is sovereign over our birth, our life, and our death. Sovereign over birth means of all the millions of people who could potentially have come from the union of your parents, Christ created you! Sovereign over life means Christ works through all that has happened and will ever happen to you to advance His purpose for your existence! Sovereign over death means Christ is in control of the timing, circumstances, and the outcome of your death, which for a Christian is Heaven! When we draw near to Christ and rest in His sovereignty, His presence removes our fear and gives us hope.
Some Steps Forward
First, let me urge you to spend time in God’s Word. We will not honor Christ as holy until we see Him as holy. As you read the Bible, ask, “What does this say about Christ?” In time, your growing admiration of Christ will cause your hope to expand and your fears to diminish.
Second, let me urge you to resist acting as lord of your life. We were created to orbit around God. When we orbit around ourselves, we break down. Fear appears in every area that is detached from Christ’s Lordship. When fear arises in a particular area, reestablish Christ as the King there.
Third, let me urge you to view all of your life as Christ’s. ‘Our children’ are now loved ones who belong to God that He has entrusted to my care, love, and teaching. ‘Our work’ is now the service God has gifted me to do to benefit society and provide for needs. ‘Our life’ is now the time that God has given me to serve at His pleasure until He calls me home. Keep your hands open to Christ.
Fourth, let me urge you to speak of your hope. As hope grows in you, it will be seen around you. As others see your hope, you will be able to tell them why. As you speak of your hope in Christ, do so with gentleness and respect.
Finally, to those who have never trusted Christ, let me share something that may sound strange. God is not trying to fix this world. God has revealed that He is on a mission to rescue people out of this world and bring them to heaven. We need to be rescued. We have all sinned against God. Sin is like a virus that ends in death. God takes sin personally. In love, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sin. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, declaring that if we will trust in Him, He will forgive us and bring us to heaven where all brokenness will cease. I invite you to trust Him today!