Globally, the coronavirus is wreaking deadly havoc. Two days ago in Barcelona, a city that has never had a case of the virus—not one in the entire nation—they cancelled the largest technology convention in the world, 100,000 attendees. The deadly coronavirus centered in Wuhan, China, is now affecting the entire planet.
I walked through the Hong Kong airport last Monday and saw half-full restaurants, half-empty flights, everyone in breathing masks. I wore a 3M N95-rated mask I had purchased at Lowe’s before I left. I took the precautions, wore the mask, wiped down surfaces, repeatedly used hand sanitizer. A flight attendant said, “That’s a really nice mask.” I said, “Thanks.” It’s the first time I’ve been complimented on my travel wardrobe.
On my way to Vietnam this week, everyone I encountered was living in fear. I’ve heard stories of entire villages that have closed their borders to outsiders and buildings that won’t let anyone in. I just heard on the news here in Hanoi that hundreds of thousands of schools are closed in over 60 nations.
Over 1,000,000 people die in car wrecks annually. Yet we’ve shut everything down over a dangerous virus that has killed over 1000. As horrible as it is to hear of agonizing deaths, perhaps the coronavirus has disclosed a virulent strain of something much deeper—that, as susceptible as we may be to the virus, we are even more susceptible to fear.
Luke recorded Jesus describing an age when, “People will be so frightened that they will faint because of what is happening to the world.” Another translation says, “Men’s hearts will fail them because of fear…” (Luke 21:26). Fear can cause anxiety, apprehension, chaos, panic and paralysis.
After losing everything including his health, Job admitted, “What I greatly feared has come upon me” (Job 3:25). Fear produced that which was feared. Because fear has power. I want to encourage you today not to live in fear, and here’s why.
Theologically, the opposite of fear is faith. Experientially, the opposite of fear is confidence. Jesus said, “And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33 TPT).
The viral impact of fear can close schools, shut down conventions, or button up whole villages. But more often, fear is used in our lives to close our minds and cancel our dreams.
When Joshua took the lead of the nation—a situation that could breed great fear—God repeatedly told him, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NLT).
This was an actual command to be strong and courageous, to be filled with confidence. I want to encourage you today to live in this kind of faith, and here’s how. The Lord and Joshua’s own friends built up Joshua’s confidence, his resolve, his courage. As a result, he became a great leader and achieved his dreams.
Ambrose Redmoon said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” Lance Witt, in his book Replenish, wrote, “Looking back I realize there’s a correlation between my communion with God and my courage for God. The deeper my intimacy, the greater my tenacity to stand courageously.”
We defeat fear through faith in Christ. We find faith and confidence through God’s Word. We access faith from the Lord and we then build courage in community.
Thank you for praying for us as we’ve traveled through Asia. Let’s pray together that people will be healed of the coronavirus and that gifted medical and science practitioners will stop the spread and cure the disease.
And let’s pray also that men will be discipled and set free from fear, become filled with courage, and live boldly with confidence. Let’s start by praying that over you right now.
Father, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be rescued and experience new life.” (Romans 10:13 TPT) Let that be your answer today as my friend and brother calls on your name. Let fear not close his mind or cancel is dreams, but give him the strength and courage to be the man you’ve created him to be. Amen.
Please continue to pray for our CMN team. Pray for your CMN brothers here in Vietnam and pray for your brothers in CMN meetings around the world. In a world full of fear, this is our season to be bold and confident, to speak words of faith and strength to those around us.