We’re learning a lot about fear these days . . . and about hope. Fear produces anxiety, and as I look around, I see many anxious friends and neighbors. Each day, the news becomes more grim. For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic is the clearest and closest confrontation we have had with our own mortality.
COVID-19 is a deadly disease, with no cure, running rampant in every corner of the world. And it creates a stream of “trickle-down” concerns. The economy is spiraling, unemployment is at an all time high, people wondering if they’re exposed, fear that they’ll unknowingly pass along the virus to someone else, and on and on.
I can’t think of a time where our species seemed less in control. But the truth is, we’re in control of a whole lot.
- We’re in control of staying abreast of the news so as to be educated about it.
- We’re in control of following the guidelines to reduce the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19.
- And we’re in control of whether we give in to the very natural tendency to fear or do the smarter – sometimes harder – work of choosing hope.
Don’t misunderstand. Fear, kept in its place, is important, even vital. Fear is a gift. It’s an emotion built into us for momentary protection. It can unleash reserves of strength to face frightening circumstances.
But long-term fear eats away at us and fuels anxiety. The strength it creates runs out. It’s a gift meant to be opened, used and set aside.
Did you know hope is a gift, too?
Unlike fear, hope reduces anxiety. It taps God’s limitless reserve of strength. Fear can help you run. Hope is how we should walk long-term.
One thing I’m particularly encouraged about in these challenging times is how so many people are choosing hope over fear. I’m the president of one of the first online evangelism organizations – Global Media Outreach. We connect with people all over the world on the internet, by mobile and through our own secure communications system. Today’s pandemic is the source of great fear, and we’re bridging that gap to help them see hope instead. If there’s one thing our work has taught us, it’s that when things look grim, people are actively looking for hope.
On an average day, we touch 350,000 people. Of course, these days are anything but average. In the face of global fear, we’re responding with messages of hope to 500,000 people a day who want to know the role faith can play in uncertain times.
The Bible tells us 366 times to “fear not.” Isn’t that another way of saying “choose hope”?
I want to be clear on what I’m not saying. I’m not saying “choose optimism”. It’s often a good thing to do, but let’s not confuse it with hope. Hope comes from Faith–trusting in someone you know to be dependable, capable and committed.
God is all of these and more. He’s the giver of good gifts. He is not ever surprised. So, let’s let fear do what it was designed to, then let’s put it away . . . and walk through these times in the hope God supplies.
We all have the choice – fear or hope.
Jeff Gowler is president of Global Media Outreach, an online Christian organization that shares the love of God in 12 primary languages in more than 200 countries. Now seeing a half-million people per day finding them online, the organization’s volunteers provide guidance to those who ask for it and connect them with a local church community. For more information go to globalmediaoutreach.com.