Fear often seems the strongest human emotion. There’s a lot around at the moment. We ask ourselves: am I sensible to feel so scared about this? Fear prompts panic buying. This frustrates us when we find empty shelves. Fear keeps us social distancing. This helps us stay safe but makes us feel isolated.
We hope for a vaccine but it seems a long way off. Can we live in fear for 18 months? Is there an antidote to our deepest worries? There is.
Surrounded by fears, rational and less rational, Christians have long found great comfort in the Biblical book of Psalms, particularly number 23 in this inspired songbook. In Psalm 23 we find the antidote to two great fears: of being alone, and of the unknown.
Fear of being alone
The media make money from showing us scary images. We see people alone in hospital, fighting for their life with all visitors banned. We worry about being left behind if precious loved ones die.
But the testimony of every Christian is that they are never alone. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, has promised always to be with every one of his sheep. David spoke from his experience in Psalm 23:4:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me.
The Bible is realistic. It speaks of the shadow of death, like the gloomy darkness down a mine shaft. But it also speaks of the antidote to fear: to know that you are not alone – God is there with you.
Just as a little child reaches out for his father’s hand, and the baby snuggles into her mother’s arms, so the believer finds comfort in God’s presence. The believer knows a comfort from their heavenly Father that is greater than anything else, for “underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27).
Fear of the unknown
We also fear the unknown – will I get this coronavirus, or my family? How bad will it be? With our Prime Minister in intensive care we are reminded that Covid-19 does not just affect the oldest and most vulnerable.
Uncertainty is currently gripping the world. Politicians and people alike don’t know what will happen. Experts are constantly revising their predictions. The Christian finds in the Bible a certainty that is the antidote to fear of the unknown. Psalm 23 ends like this:
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
The follower of Jesus Christ knows that nothing can separate them from his steadfast love. He will never leave them or forsake them. Even death is like climbing from downstairs with God in this world, to upstairs with him in heaven.
How can we experience these antidotes to fear? We need to begin where David the songwriter began: “The LORD is my shepherd.”
Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, laid down his life for his sheep. Death is fearful if we face judgement on our record. We stand condemned for breaking God’s law, his 10 Commandments. But Jesus laid down his life as a substitute for his sheep. He was punished so his sheep do not have to face condemnation, but can dwell in his house, in heaven, forever.
An antidote is only good for a dying person if they receive it. Have you ever asked the Lord Jesus Christ to be your shepherd? Can you say, with David, “the LORD is my shepherd?” He offers forgiveness of sins and freedom from fear to all who will turn from going their own way and say sorry to him.
We do not know how Covid-19 will affect us and those we love. But we can know the Good Shepherd with us through it. Only Jesus can give us these two great comforts: that we are never alone and, as forgiven sinners, that we heave a certain future in heaven.
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