PURPOSE OF HEART
A Christians Response to Crisis
What an incredible few weeks it has been with fear and panic over COVID-19. Schools have shut down. Stores are selling out of toilet paper. Only essential employees are to show to work. We have been asked not to leave our homes except for doctor’s appointments and grocery shopping. Two of my favorite seasons have been canceled—basketball and baseball. Some days it is tough to know how to respond to everything that is going on. The course remains the same: Be faithful to God. Though I have lacked many answers, I continue to study the Bible, and God through His word has given me encouragement to meet the pandemic that we are going through.
In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul told Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind”. Fear can dominate and change our lives. Fear can be good but also can become crippling in daily life. Fear of a dog was good for me when I was fifteen. Because of fear, I was able to climb a tree without Blue having me for an evening snack.
On the other hand, because of fear, many people lie. Because of fear many people don’t fulfill their abilities. This is a fear that is nonproductive. God does not want us to live in unhealthy fear but live with confidence that is directed toward and in Him. It is power, love and a sound mind that will help us overcome the tragedy of this pandemic regardless of what the outcome may be.
It is important to remember that in all things, God is in control. Psalm 22:28 states, “For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations. Job in all his despair and losses said, “He makes nations great and destroys them; He enlarged nations and guides them” (Job 12:23). God, in His omniscience, is aware of everything that is going on with every person here upon the earth. Isaiah wrote, “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done saying, My counsel shall stand” (46:9-10). God is still in control and that will never change. He has already seen the end of all things that give us fear in this life.
Having God in control should comfort us. He is powerful and has answers to any problem. He has offered encouragement to many that we read about in the Bible. Joshua, after he took over the command of the children of Israel was given great words of encouragement by God. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage: do not be afraid, nor be dismayed for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Joshua was able to draw strength and comfort from God knowing that God would not leave him (Joshua 1:5). Joshua is not the only example of those comforted by God. David is another great example. In Psalm 27:1, David states, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life: of whom shall I be afraid”. He also wrote those words that we all are so familiar with: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; Your rod and Your staff comfort me”. In Christ, we can find comfort regardless of what is going on in our lives.
God has also given us love. God loves us and wants us to love Him back. Jesus is the greatest example of love. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We should love others. Love is the greatest gift and is exemplified in 1 Corinthians 13. Love is a gift to us from God but also needs to be a gift from ourselves to others. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you all, that you love one another: as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).
Finally, Paul says that we have been given a sound mind. In this crisis, I think of things that will give me a sound mind. To be sound in mind is to be rational in thinking. Three passages help me keep my sound mind. David says, “I will both lie down in peace and sleep: for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8). In Christ I may dwell in safety. I know that this world is not my home. My home is in heaven throughout eternity. I sleep better knowing that I am going to something that is far better than what is here on earth. Because of this reality, I do not have to be anxious. Paul stated, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God: and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:6-7). As one who has suffered with anxiety, I used to think that it would be impossible to not be anxious. I used to wonder how this could be done. Don’t stop reading at the beginning of verse 6. Go on to read about prayer. It is the prayer and requests that will give us peace from God.
Paul lived a life full of prayer. When he came to the end of his life, he wrote these words, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day and not to me only but to also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). After being baptized into Christ, Paul lived a life of persecution. His certainty in life was his service to God. He goes into detail in 2 Corinthians 11:23-30 about his sufferings for Christ. He did not know what would lie ahead of him while on earth, but he was confident in his eternal future.
I pray for all those that are affected by this pandemic. I pray for those who are sick and the ones who are not working. I pray for those who are afraid and have anxiety in their lives. I do not know what the end of all this will be. However, I am confident that God wants me to be a Christian example in all things that I do. God is our comfort. He has not given us a spirit of fear. He rather has given us power, love and a sound mind. I am comforted that God is an encourager and helps me to face trials in life with strength. I am grateful for His love. I have soundness of mind because He gives me peace. It is my hope that during this crisis, you may find power, love and soundness of mind. I pray that you not only find it but also help others to attain it. Let us be comforted by God and the hope of eternity that comes through Christ.
Scott is the minister at the Elm Grove Church of Christ. Meeting times are Sunday at 9:30 a.m. for Bible class and 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. for worship. Mid-week Bible study is on Wednesday at 6:30p.m. Please visit our website at elmgrovechurchofchrist.org. He invites any questions or comments and would love to sit down and study. He can be reached at the Elm Grove Church of Christ at 740-835-6470.