Sunday, March 15, 2020

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt

In the past couple of weeks, I witnessed fear, uncertainty and doubt gripping the entire world. Now that COVID-19, or the coronavirus, has been called a pandemic, everyone is running scared. I see people buying up toilet paper, beans, rice and everything else they can get their hands on. This morning I went to do my weekly grocery shopping only to find the parking lot filled with more cars than I had expected. Grocery carts were scarce and when I went down some of the food aisles, food was even scarcer. Shelf after shelf were emptied. I talked with some of the vendors trying desperately to restock the shelves. One told me that fifty-six cases of bottled water flew off the shelves in one hour. Everyone listening to the President’s address declaring a state of national emergency decided to run to their local stores and buy up everything. One of the checkout clerks told me that she had people with grocery bills of $400. Words like “crazy”, “irrational” and “nuts” peppered the conversations of people who were there just to buy their weekly groceries.

I am not saying that you should not be prepared for shortages of essentials; however, I ask you to really think hard about what is happening. Televangelists are shouting the message of doom and the “end times” while also asking for more donations. They all say that Judgement Day is coming soon. If the end is coming soon, then why are so many asking for more donations? It is quite simple. They, like others, are fanning the flames of hysteria, fear, uncertainty and doubt. 

Listen to the news. Each day there is more and more information and even more misinformation. People in Iran are drinking industrial-grade alcohol which can cause blindness and, in some cases, death, because someone said that drinking it would kill the virus. Some are even gargling with undiluted bleach. All of these “treatments” are deadly, but people are afraid. While in the same store today, I saw people with surgical gloves on. I realize that people do need to be cautious and try to avoid contact, but there is a point when you must stop and think about what you are doing.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus reminds us of what people will say about the end times. He says in chapter twenty-four, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

Throughout the annals of man’s existence, people have declared that Judgement Day is at hand. Some go as far as to actually pick a date. Many have fallen victim to these claims and have sold their homes, belongings and even cashed in their retirement. Each waited for the very moment of the end and when the moment came, nothing happened.

Years ago, people were afraid of the year 2000. Y2K, as it came to be called, was the date when computers would go crazy and microwave ovens would seek the blood of their creators. Yes. Many fell for this and began to stockpile supplies. But, when the day came, nothing happened. Computers did not become self-aware and launch nuclear missiles to start World War 3. Nothing happened. 

Somehow, through all of this, we forget the words of Jesus. He told us not to panic. These things must take place. 

I was talking to a couple of people and I ran through all of the different health emergencies that we have seen. We had swine flu, H1N1, MERS, SARS, Zika, West Nile and a host of others. I ended my discussion by saying that we survived those and we will survive COVID-19. I asked them to think about the best things we could do to protect ourselves. They listed washing our hands, avoiding touching our faces, and a few other ones. Simple things that everyone should be doing regardless of pandemic or no pandemic. Every doctor I know of has said the exact same things. We just need to stop panicking and get on with our lives by using a little common sense and realizing that life is too short to waste on running around flailing our arms in the air and screaming that the sky is falling.

John, in chapter four of his first epistle, writes, “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.

When there is love, there is no fear. Why should we be anxious or worry about things that we have no real control of in our lives? Is that fear being motivated out of possible punishment for our transgressions? But, you should not focus on that. You should focus on the love of the Father. He has provided salvation through His son, Christ Jesus. He, as John points out, loved us first. Through His love for us, He gave His son as our atonement sacrifice. All we have to do is accept that gift of salvation and His love and begin our daily walk close to the Lord with no fear or trepidation in our lives.

This emergency will pass into the past. Another chapter of our existence that will one day fill a future history book. How should we end that chapter? Will the author write that everyone was scared senseless and turned on one another like a pack of wild animals? Or, will the author write that people came together and loved one another while helping those in need? 

If we are to truly love one another, we must realize that we have nothing to fear and that we are able to do so much for one another. Each day I see a glimmer of hope in the selfless acts of others. Nurses, doctors and a host of healthcare workers give to those in need without fear or reservation. Each does what comes naturally to us all, caring for others. But, sometimes, we let fear, uncertainty and doubt rule our lives. When we allow that to occur, fear becomes our watchword and our way of life.

Don’t let fear rule your life. Life truly is beautiful and the best part of it is you. Each of us can either love and care for others or we can separate ourselves and be selfish. The choice is up to you.

Isaiah records, in chapter forty-one of his book, the words of the Lord, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

So, as you go through this day and weeks ahead, I ask you to think about what you are doing. Are you allowing fear, uncertainty and doubt to fill your mind and heart each moment? Or, are you living like God intended with no fear and with His strength? When you live as God intended, you are able to stand firm in His grace.  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

No comments:

Post a Comment