Hope from Hopelessness

In this time of uncertainty I wanted to bring some encouragement to those that are feeling that God seems to have taken a back seat, and doesn’t care about what is happening in the UK or the world at the moment.

Others of us are perhaps feeling a little guilty about saying we trust God, yet we are fastidiously taking the recommended precautions, and are worried that our witness to friends and family is suffering.

The thing is I am a scientist. I work in Microbiology, so I know a thing or two about viruses, and have read extensively about the SARS CoV-2 (coved-19) that is currently causing a worldwide pandemic, and global panic. I am also a person who is confident in the fact that God is in control, is able to wipe the virus out in a second, and who heals because He loves us.

How can I hold the two things together without compromising either?

I have long believed that it is far better to start with the solution to a problem that I have (in this case God) rather than problem – the virus.

I am determined not to be scared of Coronavirus. I am happy to treat it with respect, because I have seen what it is capable of, but I am not scared. I know that my God is bigger than anything that this virus is capable of.

I’ve seen lots of posts on social media and listened to people on television who are very fearful. Fear is real. I’ve posted about it before. It can be crippling if you choose to partner with it and agree with what it is telling you. It has been suggested that prolonged fear has a very real effect of weakening the immune system, which could also make us more susceptible to infection.

I saw a post recently that cautioned us not to hide our fears in the precautions we are taking. Following advice is wise, but pretending that we are not afraid because we are taking them is not.

Please understand that I am not suggesting for a second that we dispense with the precautions that science and the government is telling us is essential. It is vital that we take the steps to limit the spread of the virus. Without these steps, the stark reality is that lives will unnecessarily be lost if we refuse to take them.

My plea is that we continue to trust in God, not in the precautions.

We are reminded that we have not been given the Spirit of fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]. (Amplified version)

The second thing I wanted to share I think is especially important to remember in the run up to Easter.

When Jesus was crucified, He was placed in a tomb. A large stone was rolled over the entrance. Everyone thought that was it. No matter what Jesus had said in the past about coming back (they had forgotten that He had promised that anyway), any hope that the Romans were going to be defeated and life improving were quickly discarded. There was no hope whatsoever.

God however had a different idea. From a place of hopelessness came hope. Death was defeated. The King arose.

The truth is that whilst we love the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, defeating death we can easily miss an important truth. God isn’t just the God of that tomb. He is the God of every tomb, of every hopeless situation. Whatever we face, God is God and He is able to bring us forth, out of a place of despair to one of joy and restoration.

I believe that it is time, with the number of cases of Coronavirus set to rise, as more and more fear and despair to grips the nation, for us to give the situation to God and allow Him to shape our thinking and priorities.

I also know that concern over infection with SARS-CoV-2 is not the only thing facing many folk at the moment. There are other giants in front of them, whether physical or mental health issues,  job insecurity or something else. Whatever is in front of you, whatever is filling your mind with worry may I encourage you to give it back to God and allow Him to breath life back into the situation. If you feel hopeless about what is going on, turn to the one who brings hope to the hopeless.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

Don’t live in fear

Even a quick glance at a news service these days, one cannot fail to notice that the world is descending into panic mode. From travel restrictions to self isolation and supermarkets sold out of toilet paper and hand sanitiser, people are turning to survival tactics in anticipation of Armageddon.

I heard it said recently that the most dangerous thing about Covid-19 was the media. I am not denying that people are dying, but if you watch the news or read a newspaper, you could be forgiven for thinking that 80% of the worlds population were heading in that direction imminently.

There is a fairly high chance that in the course of this “outbreak” you or someone you know will be infected. How serious that is for you will depend on a large number of factors, including age and any underlying medical conditions you may have. For the majority of people, the infection will pass like any other flu like illness or bad cold.

Media outlets have jumped on human instinct in a bid to sell more column inches or get higher ratings. They want to be the first in breaking a story, and once sales are up, they will do anything to keep them up. That means they will continue to perpetuate half truths and worst case scenarios in order to make sure people are engaged with them.

What they are doing is creating a culture of fear amongst people.

That is where I come across a problem as a Christian and a Scientist.

As a Scientist who works in the field of Microbiology, I have a pretty good understanding on how this virus spreads, and perhaps more importantly how it doesn’t. I know what is effective in protecting people from infection and what is just over precaution and pretty futile. As a scientist I am watching with interest how a virus is adapting and changing. I am trying to understand the guidelines produced by Governments, and health experts and ensure that I can translate that to my day to day working life.

As a Christian, I am resting firmly in the knowledge that God is in control and I don’t need to be concerned about having all the answers. At least 365 times in the bible, we are told not to be afraid (or words to that effect.) Any time an Angel pitches up the first thing they seem to say is “don’t be afraid.” 

God is not a God of confusion, panic or fear. He is a God of peace and sound thinking.

If we are experiencing fear over the current global situation, we can be sure that that emotion hasn’t come from heaven. It’s time to stand in the assurance that we have in Christ.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave you, nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.”(John 14:27). “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you….” (Isaiah 41:10). “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about you adoption to sonship. And by him we cry ‘Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)

Fear is a liar. It will confuse and bring hurt. It cannot be trusted to bring good.

However difficult your situation is today, whatever you are worried about, be it Coronavirus or something else, may I encourage you to stop listening to the voice of fear, but to turn to the One certainty in all the confusion.

Ask Holy Spirit to bring calm, peace and a lightness to your situation, and allow Him to change your outlook how you react to whatever is being thrown at you.