Retired Pastor Pat Duffin,
High Prairie Christian Centre
Are you weary of hearing about and coping with COVID?
I certainly sympathize.
However, chances are if you are not fearful of this invisible, random nemesis, you probably know someone who is at least seriously nervous. For some among us, the fear is almost paralyzing. Certainly, it has affected every one of us as to how we live our lives compared to last year.
A little bit of fear is a healthy thing. Fear is a ‘baked-in’ survival mechanism from birth. When operating in balance, it keeps us out of harm’s way without ruling how we feel or live our lives.
For example, natural fear keeps me from putting my hand on a hot burner. Like everyone else, I learned to fear that indiscretion through painful experience acquired when I was too small to remember. I also carefully avoid the edge of cliffs even though I have never personally walked off one. Common sense and prudence tell me it is not a good idea.
That perception has been confirmed and refined through a myriad of anecdotes which have reached me in ways too many to count. Now, I just intuitively ‘know’.
On the other hand, unbalanced fear destabi- lizes our perceptions and decisions. It confuses and controls our actions. It becomes irrational, unhealthy, and controlling.
So, when it comes to coping with COVID, I realize ‘informed’ common sense should guide me as I navigate this naturally hazardous world with its millions of ways to get hurt or die.
For example, it is no lack of faith for me to wear a parka when I go out into a Canadian winter. Nor is it unbelief to wear eyeglasses. God gave use the creative genius to make these things. He also gave us the brains to make beneficial use of them.
Why then should it be a lack of faith to wear a mask or gloves when in certain circumstances it might be prudent and appropriate?
It does not matter how much I resent the law of gravity. If I take a short walk off a tall cliff, I am in for a fall.
There are natural consequences to natural laws that hurt us, but also allow us to do wonderful life-enhancing things. When we work with the physical laws, we can fly like a bird to faraway places that would take us possibly years to reach, rather than hours. Most of us probably would never get there because of lack of stamina, natural barriers, or hazards.
Water is essential to life but is also a natural hazard. Using technology, which is simply man-made means, we can go scuba-diving at depths which normally would be fatal to us if we stayed more than a few minutes without the use of artificial means. But now we can visit exotic life and experience scenes which would have been otherwise inaccessible to us.
Likewise, faith does not despise the use of means. Making beneficial use of technology is not a repudiation of our dependence on God. It just makes logical sense. It is a rational glorifying of God because He was the ultimate source of those abilities that also come ‘baked-in’ when we are born.
It is not a lack of faith to avail ourselves of healing therapies such as surgery or medicines. It is not a turning of our backs on God when we look to science or technology for enhancing or sustaining our quality of life. Instead, I thank God for science and medicine. For it is still God that built the restorative powers into my natural body. It is, also, God who gifted me with skilled practitioners who apply their skills to my benefit.
And I thank God for the gift of technology because, as an ordinary ‘Joe’, I live a higher standard of living than even the richest royals lived just a hundred years ago. I love my central heating, especially in the winter.
And I thank God for a comfy night’s sleep without having to wake and tend the fire several times through the night. It was God who gave us the imagination and ingenuity to conjure up all sorts of comforts, conveniences, and life-saving technology.
Ultimately, all good gifts come from our Heavenly Father [James 1:17].
It is also faith that points us toward God in times of hardship and fear. Calm winds do not make good sailors.
Similarly, adversity and danger become a threat, to our faith as well as to our lives, when we allow them to get between us and God. They then become a barricade between us and God.
But, like true sailors, we learn to put the winds of hard times to our back and use them to push us toward our benevolent Creator who is our safe harbour. When we arrive, we are ripped and battered by the storm, but the Carpenter goes to work and repairs the damage and sends us on our way. Then, even our worst troubles become blessings in disguise when we completely put our trust in Jesus.
For the intellectually inclined, faith can be complicated subject. But faith can be reduced to this simple two-word statement, “Just trust.”
So, when we stop struggling with our self-will [Psalm 91:11-12] and yield to God’s will [John 15:5], our problems, great or small, become instruments in God’s hands to shape us and mould us much like the potter shapes the clay. After the necessary squeezing and pounding, that useless lump of wet dirt has a semblance of usefulness but is neither beautiful nor useful until it has been fired in the kiln. Put into extreme heat, the object often becomes invisible in the inferno and appears to lose its identity as it takes on the intensity of the heat until its very nature is transformed. When it comes out, it is at least a functioning vessel. When the maker is creative and skilled it often becomes a work of exquisite beauty as well as usefulness.
God is the potter. We are the clay. [Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 64:8; Jeremiah 18:4] Therefore, let not fear rule your heart. Rather, let it push you readily or reluctantly into that throne room of grace and mercy and help in your time of need. [Hebrews 4:16]
Choose faith, not fear in these perilous times of pandemic, economic hardship, and uncertain future.
Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me.” [John 14: 1-31]
In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world. [John 16:33].