(Guest Post by: Pastor & Missionary Gerald Steele)
COVID-19 is an insidious virus that is sweeping the world. Like a massive earthquake, it is rattling the very foundations of countries everywhere.
With it we are witnessing a tsunami of fear as people die, money markets become volatile, small businesses padlock their doors, schools are shut down and sporting events are canceled until who knows when.
We are all afraid to greater or lesser degrees. Fear is both a negative and a positive. A healthy fear causes us to wash our hands frequently, wear masks in certain environments, and maintain social distancing.
An unhealthy fear on the other hand, can cause incessant worry and even insomnia. It often paralyzes us. We sit motionless in our living rooms staring at television sets watching every report on the expansion of the virus.
I read recently that the expression “fear not” appears 365 times in the Bible. Wow! That’s one “fear not” for every day of the year.
This does not mean that none of us will experience the virus (I have two of my immediate family members who were tested yesterday and are awaiting the results) but that God’s presence will accompany us no matter what!
Isaiah 43:2-3a, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” NLT
This blog focuses on “The Few,” who dare to exercise faith even in the worst of times. In Judges, chapters 6 and 7, there is a fascinating story about a farmer by the name of Gideon. The narrative begins with Gideon threshing his wheat in a winepress.
Typically, a winepress is located in a valley. It’s where the grapes were stomped on to make juice and wine. However, farmers normally threshed their wheat on hilltops so that the wind would carry the chaff away.
So, why was Gideon threshing his wheat in a winepress? Because he was afraid of an enemy, called the Midianites, that was stealing crops and livestock.
Suddenly, in the midst of his work an angel of the LORD appears to him and says, “Mighty warrior, the LORD is with you.” I’m sure Gideon was thinking to himself, “Me, a mighty warrior? That’s why I’m hiding out in this winepress. I’m a wimp and coward!!!”
But God saw potential in Gideon. Here’s a great lesson, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how we see ourselves, or how others see us, it’s HOW GOD SEES US!!!
God made Gideon the commander of an army. God whittled down the size of Gideon’s army from 32,000 to 300. Then armed, not with guns and tanks but with trumpets, pitchers, and torches Gideon and God’s 300 surrounded the Midianite army of 135,000 soldiers who were sleeping in their encampment.
At Gideon’s command, in the wee hours of the night, they blew their trumpets, broke their pitchers revealing their torches and shouted, “the sword of the LORD and Gideon.” The startled Midianite soldiers awakened from their sleep and fled their camp.
Confused by the element of surprise they actually started killing their fellow soldiers.
In the end, Gideon’s band of just 300 gave chase. Other countrymen joined in. Ironically, they located one of the Midianite commanders hiding out in, of all places, a winepress!!! They killed him there. Wow! Don’t miss the application.
The very place where you experience your greatest fears, can become the very place of your greatest victory!!!
The Bible seems to suggest that the antidote to fear, is faith. However, in the midst of the storm, it’s very difficult to get our heads and hearts around this.
This Easter season, I was meditating on Matthew 28:1-10. Multiple times in the passage I saw the expression, “fear not.” The narrative clearly outlines a pathway that will get us from fear to faith. In verse 8 the Bible said that the two Mary’s left the presence of the angel and the tomb with “fear and great joy.”
Lesson: In the midst of life’s fearful moments we must not allow Satan to rob us of our joy! “The joy of the LORD is our strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
Secondly, in verse 9 the story reveals how when they met up with Jesus they fell at his feet and worshipped him. Again, we must worship God even in the midst of the Coronavirus.
Worship enables us to see the greatness and majesty of God even though the circumstances around us are eroding and exploding.
Lastly, we must remind ourselves that in the midst of all the negativity, Jesus is still with us. The very last phrase of Matthew chapter 28 tells us in Jesus’ very own words, “I am with you always, even until the end of the age.”
So, how do we face our fears? We maintain our joy. We worship. We practice his presence!
SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?
= Do you think we often allow Satan to rob us of our joy and peace?
= From reading this post, why is worship so important?
= What are you going to do differently?