The present pandemic is doing more than making us fearful about our physical health. It is also breeding a fear of the unknown. That’s largely because we are facing a brand-new, invisible virus. Not even the so-called experts know all of what it may do or how long it may last. That fear by itself would be bad enough, but to make things worse, the media is regularly bombarding us with drastic, worst-case scenarios of what could happen. They are constantly telling us how bad the epidemic might get and how bad the economy might get.
I recently had a small reminder of how powerful my own fear of the unknown could be. Over the years, three different doctors recommended I undergo the same medical test–it involved a lot of needles. I won’t describe it because I don’t want to distract your thoughts right now. Last week I finally had that test. (And may I add that it turned out I was fine. I didn’t need it!) What I did learn is that the fear of having the procedure had been much worse than the actual procedure itself. It wasn’t anywhere near as painful as I had anticipated. I actually learned that the needles were not my biggest problem. My fear and worry were the biggest problems.
The final death toll from the coronavirus may be less or may be more than all the predictions. I don’t think that the death toll is our biggest fear, though. The biggest fear for most of us is: “Will I be a victim of this deadly virus?” In other words, “Is it going to kill me?”
Many of our fears are just the result of our own imagination, but the fear of death is not only real but also, ultimately, unavoidable. Mankind universally fears death. The Bible reminds us that we all, whether we admit it or not, have a fear of death. It makes us “… subject to slavery all of [of our] lives” (Hebrews 2:15).
Death always looms dark and foreboding. Though we all try to ignore it, we still know it remains 100% certain for all of us. Down deep we know that if the virus doesn’t get us, eventually something else will.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could be totally set free from the fear of death? Thankfully, we can! We don’t have to shudder every time we think about dying.
Christians just celebrated the solution last week. The key to conquering the fear of death is the resurrection of Jesus Christ! When Jesus rose from the dead, He made it possible for us to have a glorious life beyond the grave. Not only that, we can also have exciting companionship with Him until we get there. The risen Christ tells His followers, “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19).
Imagine the impact that Christ’s resurrection had on those first-century followers of Jesus. Three days after His horrific execution, the disciples were still hiding behind locked doors, fearing for their very lives. That was a realistic fear.
On another level, it was amazing that those disciples were actually still afraid. Here is why: Several women had already reported that they had seen Jesus alive. Two other disciples had met the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus as well (see Luke 24:33-35). The disciples had heard a variety of personal testimonies reporting that Jesus was alive.
Why were they still afraid? They had heard the good news, but here is the problem: They had NOT experienced the good news. That is why Jesus appeared personally to them inside those bolted doors. “So, when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples THEN rejoiced when they saw the Lord” (John 20:19–20).
It wasn’t until they had seen the risen Christ for themselves that their lives were changed. Jesus turned their fear into courage. We know this because a few days later Peter and the other disciples boldly confronted thousands of Jews in Jerusalem about their need to repent and trust in Jesus (see Acts 2:14-36).
Just as Jesus pursued those fearful, doubting disciples, He could be pursuing you too. We all need Him to pursue us. Jesus came to earth because we need to be rescued from our brokenness. He came to renew our hearts so we can have a relationship with the One who made us.
Jesus’ resurrection has the power to change your despair into hope, your fear into joy, and your doubt into faith. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
That same powerful transformation from fear to faith can be yours today, too. As you read about the change in the disciples, ask yourself, “Have I personally turned from my sin and put my trust in the risen Christ? Has Jesus transformed my fear into joy?”
Always remember that Jesus declared that He came “as Light into the world so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness” (John 12:46).