Of Fears and Certainties

Panic is defined as "a sudden, unreasoning fear, often spreading quickly."  One of the chief contributing factors to a panic is the fear of the unknown.  Our globe today is being ravaged by panic - the fears of the unknown.  The coronavirus is causing nearly every nation on earth to react in such ways that people are moved with fear.  Cruise ships lie in anchor, that is if they can return to a port.  Airlines are cutting back on flights as planes are nearly empty.  Countries are closing borders or at least demanding a 14-day quarantine period for those entering therein.  (My scheduled tour to Israel in April has been canceled because of the threats of quarantine).  There are talks about either canceling March Madness or at least having the games played in empty arenas.  Conferences across the globe are being canceled, leaving hotels with vast numbers of unoccupied rooms.  Some schools are being closed as students are required to enter into that 14-day quarantine period.  And on and on the list goes. 


Why is there not this same panic because of the flu-virus?  According to the last report I read, over 20,000 Americans had died this year because of flu.  Yet, only a handful of Americans have died because of the coronavirus.  Why haven't conferences been canceled because of the flu?  Why haven't people been quarantined because of the flu?  The answer is very simple.  We know about the flu.  We know its life-cycle.  We have vaccines for the flu.  We understand the flu.  And, friends, when you understand anything, then fears are either totally removed or at least diminished.  The coronavirus, on the other hand, is something new.  We do not know its life-cycle.  Will it subside as the weather gets warmer?  We don't know.  Will it morph into newer strains as has the flu virus?  We don't know.  And it is this unknown that is driving the panic we are seeing.  I believe that once scientists have figured this out this coronavirus and can readily explain it to us, then the panic will subside and we can get back to being somewhat normal once again. 


One of the commands from God to us that is repeated most often is this: "do not be afraid."  Over and over again God tells us to "not be afraid."  Fear is our enemy.  Fear of the unknown is a giant that we face almost daily.  God tells us our fears are to be replaced with trust.  Trust in God.  I am reminded of a lady from our church - whose funeral I am preaching at on Friday - who always could be heard saying, as she battled cancer - "I don't know about the future, but I know who holds the future."  What a powerful statement that relieves our fears.  God is in control.  God is not in panic-mode.  How satisfying it is to know this truth.


The panic from the coronavirus has caused the financial markets to plunge to record lows.  Trillions of dollars have been lost over the past few weeks as the markets have reacted to this new disease.  401(k)s have taken a beating.  Retirement portfolios have been hit hard.  But, as I was reminded this morning by one of the men in my Wednesday morning study group, "I am glad my hope does not rest on my IRA."  Jesus said that we should lay-up treasure in heaven where moth and rust and coronavirus have no impact.  The red-ink of Wall Street should be a reminder to us that this world is not our home. 


The third major news story continues to be the Democratic primaries.  After yesterday's contests, it would appear that former Vice President Biden will become the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate.  Meanwhile, in Israel, there is great uncertainty about a government moving forward.  The result of last week's election keeps the country in political gridlock.  Neither Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Likud Party nor Benny Gantz and the Blue and White Party could gather enough seats to form a coalition government.  Yesterday, an attempt was made to form a minority government coalition, excluding Likud and Blue and White.  It, too, was unsuccessful.  Next week Prime Minister Netanyahu goes on trial for corruption charges.  As I have written before, this is unprecedented in Israeli politics to have a sitting Prime Minister going to trial.  There is a growing sense that Israel will need a fourth election to break the political stalemate - if, in fact, it can be broken. 


Friends, these are days of uncertainties.  How we wish we could gaze into a crystal ball and see how things will be resolved.  Yet, these are also days of certainties - of hope for tomorrow because our confidence and trust is placed in Jesus Christ.  Here is the verse that has challenged me every day: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" (Colossians 3:23).  That is the certainty that drives me each day.  I am working for Jesus.  No panic - no fear - just certainty.  God is in control!

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