Let’s just be honest. There is plenty to fear right now. And, I admit, I have struggled at times this week. The bad news isn’t just on the news anymore. It’s encroaching and getting personal. People I know are losing their jobs, they’re struggling with tensions in relationships, their loved ones are sick with the virus. Now, the bad news is in phone calls and text messages, not just online or on television.

Craig Groeschel, in his leadership podcast this week, mentioned that the world is actually facing two pandemics. One is the Coronovirus, and the other one is a pandemic of fear and panic. Both are highly contagious. We understand (and hopefully adhere to) the protective measures against COVID-19. We can be wise with physical distancing, hand washing, and disinfecting to help slow the spread of the virus. We also must be just as intentional about protecting ourselves and others from the spread of panic and fear.

 

David wrote that he will fear no evil; he didn’t say there would be no evil. Nor was he claiming to be some brave superhero who stared down the face of evil thanks to the security of his superpowers. He wasn’t boasting of his courage. No, he was very clear as to why he didn’t fear evil. He knew he was never alone. He lived in the belief that God was with him always, even in the darkest valleys.

Let’s again visit the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They eventually realized Jesus was with them all along. As soon as their eyes were opened to this truth, they immediately returned to Jerusalem (even though they’d just walked the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus) to report the good news to the other disciples. “It is true! The Lord has risen.” Easter changed everything! The disciples were no longer downcast; their hope was restored! The circumstances of the world around them remained the same; the threat of the Roman Empire was still oppressive. But, for these disciples, once they knew God was with them, despair and fear no longer controlled them.

 

Scripture is filled with God’s promise of His constant presence. Jesus Himself was named Emmanuel, which means “God with us”. God wants us to live in this security.

 

This week, a friend shared with me about a loved one who died isolated in his hospital room. His family wasn’t allowed to be with him in his final moments on earth. My heart just broke for this family, and I know they’re not the only ones who’ve experienced this. This image just about ripped my heart out, but then I remembered. This gentleman, who served as a pastor, may have passed away in isolation, but he was not alone. I was suddenly overcome with an image of Jesus, in a chair beside him, holding his hand until his final breath. What a beautifully intimate and personal scene. Our Good Shepherd is sufficient. We want for nothing.

 

JESUS IS WITH:
  • the hair dresser who flipped her door sign to “closed”.
  • the ICU nurse bravely stepping away from her young children to work the frontline.
  • the small business owner filling out paperwork for loan relief.
  • the gentleman in the nursing home waving at his wife who is smiling through his window.
  • the missionary in Nicaragua continuing to serve and love others.
  • the pastor videoing his message of hope from his back deck.
  • the business owner laboring to shift their mission to produce medical masks for their local hospital.
  • the working-from-home dad who is now also a homeschool teacher.
  • the teacher missing the students she’s invested in for months.
  • the single mom filing for unemployment.
  • the wife fighting for breath while in isolation in a hospital bed.

God. Is. With. Us.

The question is: Do we believe this? Is it more than just a nice platitude? If we do believe it, shouldn’t our lives reflect that?

There is a beautiful story shared in Mark 9 about a man who falls to his knees in front of Jesus. As he weeps, he begs Jesus to heal his son. Imagine the intensity of this scene. Put yourself in the man’s position. Have you ever felt that kind of desperation? I know I have. The man, looking up at Jesus, says,

“I believe, help my unbelief.”

This man knew his limitations, and he understood the sufficiency of Jesus.

No one has perfect belief. There isn’t a soul on earth who can claim to have 100% belief. And that’s beautiful! That is what keeps us looking up at Jesus and asking Him to fill the remainder. In our times of doubt and fear, may we have the humility to fix our eyes on Jesus.

Jesus,

This is a time marked by fear. When the darkness feels too heavy, please complete our belief. Help us to remember You are always with us. May we not think we are the exception to that, no matter what we may or may not have done in our lives. The belief in Your presence is the antidote to our fear. Thank You for loving us. Thank You for Your relentless pursuit of our hearts and attention.

Amen.