Do not be afraid. Do something.
How many times does the Bible say, “Fear not”?
- Isaiah 41.10, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you…”
- Genesis 15.1, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield…”
- Joshua 10.25, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous…”
- Matthew 8.26, “Why are you afraid?”
Some form of “do not be afraid” comes up again and again in scripture. Various searches yield different totals. An internet search suggested 170-365 times when “fear not” comes up in the Bible. Part of the reason for the range of occurrences could be the variance in English translations. The theme of trusting God comes up repeatedly. Yet, at this moment, fear seems to be spreading like a wildfire.
This current wave of fear seems to be spreading because of the threat of COVID-19, commonly known by its family name of viruses: coronavirus. The U.S. stock market reflected this fear as it tumbled last week. The prices of disposable masks have skyrocketed. Travel restrictions and mandatory temperature checks are becoming more common.
COVID-19 is more dangerous than the more common flu. According to CDC data, 0.05% of people in the U.S. who caught the flu this year have died from it. In China, in a study from the China CDC Weekly, researchers found a death rate from COVID-19 to be around 2.3% in mainland China. Fears are not baseless, yet hype in the media magnifies fears. COVID-19 is real. It will spread. It could get bad, and politicians who mishandle the situation could make it worse.
Should we be afraid? Not according to the Bible. However, God does not call people to fool-heartedly run toward danger. When David fought Goliath, the story reflects God’s anointment of David, not an eternal truth for every skinny kid to attack every monster. When we read about the king’s guards throwing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into a furnace, we do not take the lesson that we should dive into a crematorium. The story is about a God who will provide. When Jesus rose on the third day, the takeaway is not to confront empires. It is a story of God’s power over death.
If we should not be afraid, what should we do?
- Wash our hands.
- Use hand sanitizer.
- Drink plenty of fluids, rest, exercise, and continue (or develop?) a healthy lifestyle.
According to the CDC, prevention for COVID-19 includes avoiding touching one’s eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. They also suggest avoiding close contact with people who are sick and staying home when one is sick. Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces are good ideas. All of these suggestions would prevent other communicable diseases.
Don’t be afraid. Do something.