It’s very easy to be afraid right now.
Afraid of the coronavirus infecting us or our family
Afraid of our hospitals becoming overwhelmed with extremely sick people
Afraid of loosing our jobs or income
Afraid of spending too much time alone
Afraid of running out of food or toilet paper
Afraid of loosing control of our lives
In fact, these fears are not irrational. They are very rational. Right now, we are acutely aware that we are not in control. There is a pandemic virus which is rapidly spreading throughout the world, and it is in our cities, at our doorsteps. People are dying, health systems are being overwhelmed, many, many people are losing their jobs and their incomes. We are being isolated, locked up in our own homes for our own protection and for that of our society. And what’s more, we don’t know when it will end. Will those of us in lock-down ever see our friends and family in person? Will we be able to get a new job? Will life ever get back to ‘normal’?
I realise my own fears as I go to work each day. I work in a medical centre in the heart of the city. Our patients come from all over the world – travelers, migrants, city workers. In the coming weeks we are expecting to see more and more people who could have coronavirus. We are taking sensible measures to reduce the risk to ourselves and our patients. But, by continuing to come to work each day to care for our patients there is a risk I could catch coronavirus. As I leave my family each day to go to work I am afraid for them. What would happen to them if I got sick and couldn’t come home at the end of the day? Would my children be ok if they got sick? What about my husband? Could I infect a vulnerable family member or friend who is at a higher risk of complications?
The Israelites knew what it was to be afraid. They were an oppressed people, who lived in slavery throughout many periods of their history. Even when they were settled in their land they had constant threats from outside – foreign invaders – and inside – unfaithful leaders.
Let’s be clear here, these were not empty threats, the Israelites faced death, starvation, war, disease and very real oppression. If they were afraid, they had very good and rational reasons to be so.
Yet, the people of God knew there was someone they could trust. Someone greater than the powers, someone greater than the fears. Someone who saw the most vulnerable people in society and cared for them. Someone who could be praised despite the situation, indeed, shouldbe praised.
Psalm 113 describes this:
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised (v3)
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
He settles the childless woman in her home
As the happy mother of children (vs7-9)
God knows our fears, and He knows whether they are likely to come to pass. He has a much bigger perspective and no matter what happens, the psalmist reminds us, He can and should be praised always. Praise turns our eyes away from our fears and turns them towards the one who ‘sits enthroned on high’ (v5). Praise puts the ultimate power in the hands of the One who is above all and is in control of all, for all time.
He sees the most vulnerable and cares for them. He will lift them up out of their situation and bless them.
And so, even as we face a very uncertain time, as we walk together through one of the most difficult periods in our lifetime, as we face our worst fears coming to pass in the lives of our communities and our loved ones. We can trust the Lord. He can be praised. And we know that in Christ, those who have lost everything will be given more than they can ever imagine.
Gillian Porter is a wife, mother and GP based in Melbourne. She loves drinking coffee and spending time in the sunshine with her family. She has studied at Ridley Melbourne and loves encouraging others from God’s word.