Saturday, April 4, 2020

Weapons for Fearful Times

by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

On March 16, 2020, President Trump appeared on our televisions to announce his 15 Days to Slow the Spread. And each of our worlds took on a science fiction tint.

All of our plans and routines slammed into a cliff called COVID-19. Social distancing, frequent hand washing, and staying inside became part of our new normal. Home schooling our kids became mandatory. Going to a movie, a restaurant, or even the park became a dream. And watching the news took on even greater importance to get a glimpse of what our future as a nation and a community might hold.

And no one right now can tell us how long this will last. When this will get back to something like normal. We’re all stuck in limbo.

For many of us, when circumstances get tough, we have two escapes: sports and work. Sports were taken away when they cancelled the games of all the major sports. At work, we either faced closed doors or our job duties were drastically changed.

And all this happened within just a couple of days, if not hours.

Unprecedented. An attack by an invisible enemy. Terms like these spin around us as we find ourselves in a surreal world.

When our routines and circumstances are upended like this, fear and anxiety usually aren’t far away, maybe even expected. Let’s face it, if we wanted to have a pity party today, we would have a lot of company.

But, (This is a really good place for a but, right?) God hasn’t gone anywhere. Everything else in the world may have changed, this virus has touched at least 150 nations, but He isn’t overcome by fear or worry. And He doesn’t want His children to be overcome by them either.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

I always get nervous when we talk about this verse. It reminds me where we are told in the Bible to “be anxious for nothing”. And I know I can’t do that. I know God is bigger than any circumstance but a mouse in the middle of the night will still keep me from sleeping the rest of the night. And this virus is bigger than any mouse.

Well, technically, I guess not, but work with me here.

But God didn’t leave us without options, weapons if you will. Instead of a fearful spirit, what did he give us?

Weapons to Fight Fear

1) Power
Thankfully, His power, not mine. I can’t spell pandemic without spell check. When Paul wrote this to Timothy, He couldn’t help him either. He was in Roman staying in Caesar’s special motel, a prison. He had to ask friends to bring him a cloak and his books.

But Paul didn’t see his circumstances as a sign of weakness or failure. Jesus had told him that He had a plan. I’m sure Paul had his doubts and wondered why God chose prison, beatings, and betrayals to spread His gospel—couldn’t He have just started the internet—but Paul knew God was in control during His plan.

The same is true today. We are going to be called to go through different hardships and fears, but God has promised to stay with us. In fact, He gave us His word.

2) Love
One thing I’ve learned about fear, it usually turns my focus inward on me: my troubles and my circumstances. However, when I look outward or upward, fear loses its power.

Look outward to others. What is often the difference in the hero who runs toward the trouble, the burning house, the overturned car; and the person who runs away? The person we call a hero sees someone in need and goes to help. The other person sees danger and runs away. 

Love doesn’t mean you have to endanger yourself, but it does mean you look at others as much as yourself. When you do, when you think of we instead of I, that we are all in this together, then it’s easier to put the threat in its proper perspective.

Look upward to God. I’m not supposed to have all the answers or depend only on my strength. When I look at the allmighty, eternal, creator God we serve, I know I can trust Him with any concerns I may have.

3) Sound Mind 
Some versions have this as self-control. We are living in a fearful time. We seek information but doubt whatever we hear. It seems that everyone has an agenda.

Not only is it hard to trust others, the known facts seem to be constantly changing. Since this is a new virus, the scientists are still learning about it. And since we get most of our news on social media, it has been hard to keep up. Is what I’m reading the latest news or an older post? Even a day, sometimes made a difference.

We are also seeing so many scams and false information being spread. Iran has had hundreds to die because they were told that drinking alcohol would kill the virus.

But God gave us a mind. With it, he expects us to judge what we hear or read. Does it sound real? Does it apply to your circumstance?

And before we say, text or post anything, put it through the Philippians 4:8 test. Is it true? Is it honorable? Will it help others? Is it loving? If not, you probably should keep it to yourself.

This is a scary time, but that doesn’t mean that we should close the blinds, sit in the corner, and tremble. We’ve been through fearful times before. And a lot of you have more than the virus and its consequences to face. Cancer, bills, friends or family who seem to be straying are still with us.

But God. When the whole world and everyone in it seems to tremble like an earthquake, just go back to those two words.

Tim Suddeth is a stay-at-home dad and butler for his wonderful, adult son with autism. He has written numerous blogs posts, short stories, and three novels waiting for publication. He is a frequent attendee at writers’ conferences, including the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and a member of Word Weavers and ACFW. He lives near Greenville, SC where he shares a house with a bossy Shorky and three too-curious Persians. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at