Last summer, I spent a day with my family at Valleyfair, an amusement park in the suburbs of Minneapolis. One of the marquis rides there is a roller coaster called “The Wild Thing.” It climbs higher than anything else in the county, and it plunges, twists, and lurches in a way that helps your prayer life immensely.
This is the image that comes to my mind as I take in the daily, and sometimes hourly, developments of the Coronavirus phenomenon. It can truly make your head spin, and there’s no telling where it will stop. Who knows what we will hear tomorrow? We are all on a wild ride.
Many people are becoming very afraid – for their own health, for their loved ones, for their jobs, for their financial future, not to mention their financial present. There is so much that is unknown, and that frightens us. We are reflecting afresh on the meaning of it all. The pandemic is raising our most basic fears to the surface of our lives.
At the same time, we hear God saying “Do not fear” to us, just as God says over and over and over to us in the Scriptures. Of course, that doesn’t mean to deny that there’s anything to be concerned about, or to pretend that we’re not afraid at all. It does mean that we’re to continually choose to subordinate our fear, to take it captive, over and over and over, to the One who loves us and holds all things together (Colossians 1:17).
Not easy. Our own struggle with fear helps us to stand in empathy with people who are in fear’s grip. So let’s never downplay how terribly hard and scary these days may be for someone else (or for ourselves).
But then let’s let our lives as Jesus-followers point to another way.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4)
The other side of fear is opportunity. Frodo Baggins embarks on his adventure fully aware of his fear (while also not realizing how much greater his fear will become); but he also has a sense that this adventure will change him in a way nothing else can.
The Coronavirus phenomenon could be the defining experience of many people’s lives. I suspect that for most it won’t be a matter of just getting past this so that we can go back to our lives as we’ve known them. We will be changed by this. (So will our families, and our community, and our society, and our churches.) The question is, how?
More on this tomorrow…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Jacobs has served for 13 years as the Senior Pastor of Westminster Church, Rapid City. He shares a deep commitment to see our community thrive in love for one another, especially in trying times like these. If you're interested in more of Bob's writings, check out his personal blog at www.brittlecrazyglass.wordpress.com.