Only Love Will Carry the Day

There is no passion so contagious as that of fear. - Michel de Montsigne

Bram thought about it. "Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?" "That is the only time a man can be brave," his father told him. - George R. R. Martin, Game of Thrones

No one knew how we would respond, no idea how we might behave in a pandemic. This is a new experience for all of us and we've seen people reacting to this crisis in all kinds of ways. The deniers still choose to ignore it all together, wishful thinking to the end. The downplayers and conspiracy theorists play it calm and cool, citing a half dozen half-baked reasons why this is no big deal, but they are a minority I would guess.

Most people take this pandemic seriously by degrees. The concerned citizen types are just staying informed and anxious to follow whatever protocol is recommended. Next comes the 24 hour news junkies hanging on every update, charting the body count as it rises around the world gradually coming closer and closer to where we live. And then, there are those we might call the survivalists, who rush to the store to stockpile a huge cache of groceries, hoard the toilet paper and grab the last six bottles of hand sanitizer. Finally, we can find the "apocalypse now" bunch standing in line at the gun shop to add more weapons and ammo to their personal arsenal. Gun sales have spiked significantly in this crisis.

Wherever you fall in these over-generalized descriptions or somewhere in between, we all have one thing in common, at least if we are honest with ourselves. What we all share is fear, a fear that ranges from a low-level anxiety to a debilitating worry to a can't-sleep-at-night kind of terror. We're only human and it makes sense that we would be afraid of an unseen enemy that can be just about anywhere undetected, making us potential accomplices in threatening the lives of those around us, or victims ourselves.

But what troubles me is seeing how many church-going, Bible-believing types seem to respond to this crisis with the same fear-driven motives that others have, their faith so quickly cast aside in a crisis, their concern for others forgotten in a rush of self-preservation.

Indifference to human suffering is not a virtue. 'As long as I'm okay, it's okay' is not a God-honoring attitude. God is not calling His people in this crisis to be the best supplied and well-armed. He will not be congratulating those who have the biggest stockpiles and most ammo. Rather I believe God calls His people to be the most generous and compassionate, to act not out of fear, but out of love, love for God and love for our neighbors. Not to barricade ourselves but to sacrifice ourselves, this is the way of Jesus.     

The next time fear rumbles up in your stomach, try this - do something for someone else. It may be small or simple, it doesn't matter. Share what you have collected. Call and check on someone who is alone. Offer encouragement. Send a gift card to someone who is laid off. Write a letter to brighten a loved one's day. Any expression of love will drive out our fear, because the one who loves from the heart is unafraid. 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18 NIV)

How ever you choose to approach these days of pandemic pandamonium, try to live faith first rather than fear first. Remember the way of Jesus, the way of love, not just when it's clear skies and all is well, but even in the worst of times, even when the unthinkable happens. Only love helps and heals, and only love will carry the day.


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