We Will Not Fear
In times of danger and distress, it is crucial for God's people to look to Him for help. The psalmist said, "l called on the LORD in distress; The LORD answered me and set me in a broad place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (Psalm 118:5-6). Paul said, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
In Bible times kings stood before God in the presence of their people and prayed. As the threat of a coalition of nations was preparing to attack Judah, Jehoshaphat stood before the assembly and prayed for God's help (2 Chronicles 20:1ff). In part of that prayer (verse 9) the king said, "If disaster comes upon us--sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine--we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save."
In these uncertain and unprecedented times, the word "pestilence" seems to jump out at us from this verse. It's from a Hebrew word which carries the idea of destruction and death. Pestilence is associated with a dreadful deadly sickness, disease, epidemic or even a pandemic. These things can cause the death of a lot of people. From what we read in scripture, some may ask, "Is this particular Coronavirus an act of God?"
In the past, it is true God inflicted people with pestilence as judgement against them and punishment for their unrighteousness. In the context of Leviticus 26, God told Israel He would bless and reward them if they were obedient, but He would curse them and punish them if they turned from His commandments. In verse 25, He said, "And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant; when you are gathered together within your cities I will send pestilence among you; and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.
Again in 2 Samuel 24: 15, King David was punished for his sin of pride. By his own choice, the tragic fallout came upon his own people Israel. "So the LORD sent a plague (pestilence ESV) upon Israel from the morning till the appointed time. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men of the people died."
During the days of Judah's fall to Babylon, Jeremiah warned people not to go to Egypt for help. "So shall it be with all the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to dwell there. They shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. And none of them shall remain or escape from the disaster that I will bring upon them" (Jeremiah 42: 17).
Although God has used pestilence in the past, who can say this is what's happening in the world today? We need to be very careful not to think beyond what we can know of the mind of God (cf. Romans 11:33, 34). The point of Jehoshaphat's prayer is not that God sends troubles, but He is able to help in those tragic times. The king prayed, "If disaster comes upon us--sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine--we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.
It is naive to think Christians cannot be affected by COVID-19 just as anyone else. We're not immune to diseases, accidents, or any other calamity or misfortune that affects humanity. The difference between Christians and the world is we don't stand in fear and despair as others do. We rely on the comfort and help, we receive from God.
"Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer" (Psalm 4:1).
"God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea" (Psalm 46:1-2).
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).
For Christians, our first response to any problem is to seek God's help. If we have sinned, we must make sure to humble ourselves before our Creator and repent. Only then will He hear our prayers. God encourages us to come before His great throne of love, compassion, and mercy with any request we might have. "Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer" (Psalm 4:1). James said, "...The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5: 16b). God is bigger than any virus, any disease, any illness, and any problem we can ever endure in this world or in this life!
The psalmist wrote, "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust." Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday" (Psalm 91:1-6).
Whether or not we have peace of mind, will be determined by our focus. Those who worry about the things of this world, will live in fear. But we put our trust in the Lord. We're confident of our spiritual connection with God now, as we look forward to our eternal destination. "And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You" (Psalm 9:10).
God told Joshua, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).
John continues, "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God" (1 John 5:11-13).
The Lord said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life" (John 5:24).
Jesus promised, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27). —Chris