An Aside: God in the Days of Fear

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

The world feels like it is spinning out of control. Over the last few days I have had many conversations with all kinds of folks. The tension, concern, worry, it is palpable. In my own heart and mind the fear and anxiety swells. I am not a worrier. It’s not part of my nature. Amy, my wife, on the other hand is very much a worrier. We balance each other out that way. I am often able to provide a safe harbor and she is able to provide necessary caution. Yet, in these days when we are inundated with news of thousands of deaths and a virus that is increasing by 35% a day, worry can creep in.

As we watch the news and read the articles on the internet it becomes easier and easier to become afraid. Many of us begin to look around and ask where is God in all of this? Where is God? Why isn’t God miraculously stepping in and stopping this virus from spreading? Does God even care? These are valid questions. These are the same questions that I am asking too.

When fear and worry arise in me, what do I do? How do I respond?

During a period of time when I was struggling in my faith in God, I learned that the best way for me to see God is to see God in the faces of others. This may sound strange but bear with me for a second. The Scriptures tell us that people are image bearers of God. If that’s true, then when we pay attention to people we should see in them the reflection of God.

I think that John communicates that in 1 John 4:12 when he writes,

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (NIV)

John’s implication here is clear, when we love one another we reflect God to one another. In a very real sense, we see God in one another.

Where is God in all of this? God is in the face of your neighbor and in the face in the mirror. Let me be clear, I’m not saying you’re God or I’m God. What I am saying is that is that if we believe that we have the image of God in us, then we see God reflected in ourselves and in our neighbors, particularly when we love well.

As goofy as it may sound, when I start feeling the rush of anxiety or worry I follow the advice of Mr. Rodgers and look for the helpers. In those people who are embodying love to their neighbor I catch glimpses of the divine. When others selflessly love they show us God.

God becomes more visible as I see the divine image in those around me. Then I find I am able to do some of the other things that the Scriptures talk about in times of stress, worry, and anxiety. Like, rejoicing always and bringing everything to God in prayer (Philippians 4:4-7).

One of the passages that I reflect on during these times is in Romans 8,

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Paul quotes Psalm 44:22 here)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, Or nor heavenly rulers neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39, NIV)

In the midst of all the scary times, the stressful times, the worrying times, we can know with certainty that Christ Jesus is interceding for us and that nothing can separate from the love of Christ.

Rest in the knowledge that the resurrected Christ who spared nothing for us is alive and still at work caring for us and shepherding us. Find rest in the presence of God through his image bearers in the world who are displaying his love. In particular, we see this in the faces of nurses, doctors, police, firefighters, EMS, grocers and all the other women and men who are on the front-lines these days (and everyday).

One last thing I am learning is that we get to show God to those around us by loving well. Do so today. Love your neighbor as yourself and love your enemy too. Look for opportunities to show those around you what self-sacrificial love looks like. In other words, #LoveWell my friends.