By: Amanda Taylor Walker
For the past six weeks, I have been in a cycle of fear, faith, rationale, and back to fear. For most of my life, fear has been a struggle for me. But I have not experienced this type of cycle before now. In my battle, it has been a fear versus faith cycle. However, in this world of COVID-19 reality, many “rational” voices seek to cloud my faith. Scientists have one view and set of recommendations. The CDC has another set of opinions. And, still, my state leaders are operating under another set of rules and recommendations. With all these voices all coinciding, how are we to hear the still small voice of the Spirit?
In the last few days, I have been drawn to the book of Philippians. Paul wrote this book when he was “quarantined” inside a Roman prison. I can only imagine his feelings of uncertainty. At any moment, a guard could walk in and inform him that his time on earth was complete. Yet, instead of writing about how fearful or unsure he felt, he encourages us with his faith.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Phil. 4:8-9
This passage of scripture convicts and encourages me because a lack of control causes my fear. I cannot control this virus. I cannot control the economy. I cannot control my state leaders’ decisions. I cannot control much of anything. But the stark reality is that I have never been able to control those things.
The enemy has lured us into believing that we had far more control than we possess. Paul understood this truth. From other letters, one can conclude that Paul also struggled with wanting to be in control. Yet, at the end of his life, he realized that God alone controlled all things (Col. 1:17).
I appreciate that God knew that thinking upon honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable things does not come easy for us. He knew that we would need to “practice” these traits. A few months ago, I wogged (walk/jog) a half marathon. Maybe some people can go out and run a half marathon without practice, but not me. I had to practice 3-4 days a week for almost a year before my body was strong enough to accomplish that goal. The same is true for spiritual disciplines. If we want to overcome fear and experience God’s peace, we must continually think upon things that encourage peace and discourage anxiety. And, then, practice living in faith instead of fear or our rationale.
The world tells us that we are war with a physical virus. But we are at war with so much more than that. We are fighting “against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). For the moment, satan is using a virus to control our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual actions. Tomorrow, he will use something else. The enemy does not care what causes us to turn our hearts away from Christ and onto ourselves. His goal is to distract us from coming to the only One who can fill our hearts with peace. For those who are Christ-followers, satan cannot have our souls, for we are “sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). But he can and does steal our peace. Let’s determine not to allow him that privilege.
No one knows how long our country will be in this state of shutdown. Undoubtedly, there will be plenty of experts telling us what we need to think about and do to survive this crisis. But let’s not get too caught up in the world’s rationale and advice that we fail to listen to what God is saying and trying to teach us through this season. If we conclude that God is in complete control and we are not, this crisis will not be wasted. The Spirit is speaking; am I listening?