Fear; May 6, 2020

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

This would seem to be a very timely verse, when so many people are afraid of COVID-19. However, I don’t think this verse is very well understood. We really have trouble associating love and fear and punishment. (Incidentally, the Japanese agrees that “punishment” is a better translation here than the more traditional “judgment.”) We may not articulate it, even in our minds, but we tend to think that God is “out to get us,” primarily because we have a nagging feeling that we deserve it! Frankly, apart from the grace of God in Christ, every one of us deserves to spend eternity in hell. However, as John 3:16 says so famously, God’s love provided a way out of that. The more we understand the magnitude and depth of God’s love, the less fear we will have of anything at all. That’s not to say that we are to be presumptuous and/or stupid, stepping out into traffic and things like that, but it is to say that we should have an assurance that God will not allow anything into our lives that He cannot and will not turn around for our blessing, if we will release it to Him. (Romans 8:28) We fear death, forgetting that for believers, leaving this life means going to be with Jesus for eternity, and that is glorious beyond words. We fear suffering, forgetting that, as Peter pointed out, “He who has suffered in his body is done with sin.” (1 Peter 4:1) The more we grasp the love of God, the less we will fear or complain about anything at all. We are all imperfect humans, so there is no reason to accuse ourselves when we feel fear, but we do need to understand that fear is an indication that we have room to grow, and ask God to enable us to do so. As David learned, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3) In this time of COVID-19, we need to choose to trust, and so rejoice in our Lord.

I have very little concern for myself personally over this virus, but I would hate to be a vector of infection for others, so I try to be careful. I am very aware that masks are to protect the people around us far more than they are to protect us. Right now we have no reported cases in Omura, with a population of about 100,000, so all the extreme measures being taken seem quite overblown. My precautions at this point are somewhat along the lines of Paul’s not eating meat when he was around those who thought it was participating in idolatry to do so. That said, I know that gradual asphyxiation is a miserable death, as I have observed in someone with COPD, and I want no part in inflicting that on someone else. Also, various other very bad effects of the virus have been observed, including stroke in younger, otherwise healthy people. Again, I have no fears for myself, but I don’t want to inflict any of that on anyone else. Yesterday I distributed a mask and a tract to many of the homes in the area, and I was actually surprised at how grateful several of the people seemed to be. As I rejoice in God’s love myself, I need to be active in transmitting that love to others, so that they too may repent and believe for their salvation.

Father, thank You for being God. The devil is certainly using this virus in many ways, but You have Your reasons for allowing it. I pray that all of Your purposes, and none of those of the enemy, may be fulfilled, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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