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Fighting for Faith in a COVID-19 Age

in Blog, Current events
When the news threatens to feed your fears, here’s how to feed your faith instead.

What is faith? Some believe it’s little more than positive thinking. Others believe that faith requires an object, but that said object’s precise nature matters little. I was once told I could worship an avocado as long as I was sincere! How hollow such ideas ring now as we stand on the edge of a terrifying precipice named COVID-19.

My family and I lived in West Africa during the Ebola crisis. My husband was head of security for our mission. We received special training in crisis management, which was both good and wise. But at the end of the day, we entrusted ourselves into the Lord’s hands and chose to live by faith.

For the Christian, the question of faith was settled at the cross. The moment we put our trust in Christ’s finished work and repented from sin, we were transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). That transaction was punctiliar, permanent, and initiated by God. We can be confident, therefore, that nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39).

But if we’re honest, at times our faith wavers. Seldom has that been truer than as we face the coronavirus. We can easily relate to the father of a demon-possessed boy who confessed to Jesus in Mark 9:24, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

Each new headline brings a fresh wave of anxiety for many of us. If we don’t fear for our own lives, we fear for our aged or immunocompromised family and friends. And we fear especially for our loved ones who have no hope beyond this life.

In those moments, the fight for faith is real. Yes, saving faith was granted to us once and for all at regeneration. But, practically speaking, faith is a daily fight (1 Timothy 6:12). We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling, not in our own strength, but in God’s, who is at work in us to will and to do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

In other words, our union with Christ was sealed by the Spirit at conversion. But our communion with Christ is a daily, hourly, moment-by-moment struggle. And, praise God, because we are in Christ, we are not in this alone.

Hebrews 4 says we have a great high priest and unlimited, direct access to the throne room of the King of heaven. Let us avail ourselves of this precious privilege! We have a high priest who understands us. Isn’t that wonderful news?

Jesus faced life-threatening situations, just like we do. From his earliest days, evil forces sought His ruin. When Herod gave orders to kill the young Jesus, his parents didn’t hang around Bethlehem praying for a miracle. They fled to Egypt and stayed there Herod died, because God told them to. They took the necessary steps to preserve life.

Similarly, during His earthly ministry, Jesus escaped from the grip of His enemies on numerous occasions (John 7:30, 8:59, 10:39). He was not motivated by fear, but by wisdom.

Knowing that Jesus took precautions to preserve His life, let us confidently take every step necessary to ensure the safety of our loved ones. Yet even as we do so, let us remember our Savior’s simple admonition:

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:25-27)

To ward off thoughts that fuel our fears, here are helpful words from the apostle Paul. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

Let this be the criterion by which we filter every thought that passes through our minds. If reading the latest news updates feeds our fears, feed our faith instead by reading Scripture. Let these words of the psalmist be a guide:

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle. (Psalm 103:1-5)

Rather than letting the world fill our souls with panic, let’s choose to fill our souls with praise. Let’s tell our souls what we need, what we must do, to survive and even thrive during this pandemic.

(This article was first published in French at TPSG).

Angie Velasquez ThorntonAngie Velasquez Thornton served with her husband, Dan, and their two daughters in Senegal, Africa, for 10 years. They now live in Montreal, Canada, where she continues to make disciples with Crossworld. Read Angie’s blog.

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