Suffering touches all of us at some point in life. Some more than others and to varying degrees, but it will come. But in my experience the anticipation and “what-ifs” of suffering can be more tormenting then the suffering itself. Imagination is a beautiful thing, but it also can be torturous when we allow the possibilities of evil to run wild in our minds.
Fighting the Unknown isn’t Fair
Last night I lay on the couch, listening to worship music trying to fight the fear that was rising inside. I had been feeling off all day and finally checked my temperature. 99.5 degrees, not technically a fever, but along with the body ache and headache, I couldn’t stop wondering if the coronavirus had somehow found its way to me. I read through the symptom list again, which didn’t prove any help to my wonderings.
We live in uncertain times. I guess that’s always the case, but in these last few weeks and months, even more so. COVID-19 holds the world in fearful trepidation. The virus is astonishingly contagious and so is the panic and fright that come with it.
Fear and dread of disease is not a new experience for me. Some of it comes from unrealistic paranoia and some of it is the result of living through various health conditions and accompanying trauma.
Remembering the Truth of His Word
A few years ago I lay in a hospital bed of the cardiac unit wondering if I would live to see my baby girl learn to walk. Every irregular heartbeat and feeling of faintness added to the growing dread that was welling up inside of me: I imagined what it was going to be like to die. Imagined my kids without a mother. Imagined how and when it would all end.
I remember like it was yesterday how God spoke to my heart in that hospital room. It was a gentle but firm reminder of His rightful place in my life, including my physical being. The verses He brought to mind were these, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” 1
Was God truly the portion of my life? Was He my greatest treasure? Yes, my physical heart was failing me, but was I making God my strength?
A Different Kind of Peace
Jesus said that in this world we would have trouble and oh how true His words are! He also said that He would give us peace, but not the kind of peace that the world gives. I have often pondered about how His peace is different than that of the world.
I think for the world, peace would be the absence of suffering. An ending to pain. A cure to the coronavirus. These are all good things, and I think God in his goodness desires these also. But the peace that Jesus offers us is so much more than freedom from pain and suffering. It is the gift of Himself in the midst of pain and suffering. The Word says that Jesus Himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14). He is our great reward, and when we can realize this amid a world full of panic and fear it is a most amazing miracle.
Jesus has already overcome the world. Do we believe this? Sure, we know it to be true because Jesus said so 2, but do we live it out? Are we living in the joy and freedom that this realization could bring us?
Living in an World that has been Overcome
For me, it has been many years of fighting fear. God has brought me through many of my own medical uncertainties, and I am still living through some. But through it all, I have gained an increasing amount of peace. Not because of the suffering, but because I found Jesus in the midst of it.
After some weeks in the cardiac unit, and several months of intravenous feeding, my heart began to beat normally again. I was able to see my baby learn to walk and enjoy more years of life. But through facing the prospect of death so closely, God revealed more of my fears, and by His grace, showed me how to rely more on His strength than my own.
I was able to fall asleep in peace last night, entrusting my health and that of my family to our good Father. This morning the fever was gone, and although weakness weighed heavily on my body, I experienced the faithful strength of God waiting for me.
The truth is we are always living with a host of unknowns surrounding us. But, one very certain known is that God is in our midst and a very present help for any uncertainty we are facing 3. And because of this fact, we need not be shaken for anything. While the world is being turned upside down, those who look to God will be unmoved because God is with us,
“God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns” 4. I love how this verse describes God’s help coming at dawn. Sometimes we must endure the “night” of darkness and fear before we experience God’s help, but He is still in our midst through the darkness. There is an enduring Presence that we can depend on no matter what surrounds us.
Getting Through the Current Darkness
Friends, we do not know what is to come. For some of us, the coronavirus will be a reality that we live through, for others a possibility that threatens. But, we all have the opportunity to experience the supernatural peace of Jesus no matter what may come our way.
And, we have a testimony to share when others ask us for a reason for the hope that we have amidst these perilous times. Hold on to the promises of God, replace the images of fear with pictures of deliverance from his Word, and speak out in faith when doubts arise. God is faithful, but we must do our part by fighting the good fight until the end.