2021 has been a year dominated throughout the world by the fear of Coronavirus – vaccination hopes and fears (side effects and not properly tested), new variants (Delta and now Omicron), Lockdowns and “Covid Passes” …all driven by:

  1. A sincere desire to protect others from catching a new and potentially serious virus. Let us respect those who feel this way.
  • A sincere belief that we must “do our part” in trusting God – just as we would not blindly walk into a fire saying, “I trust in God” (unless He specifically told us to do this), so it could be argued that “I am called to protect myself through distancing and vaccination while trusting in God to do His part”. Let us respect those who feel this way.
  • A fear of contracting the virus and dying from it or at the very least getting the dreaded “Long Covid”. Conspiracy theories have fed into this and come out of this – Chinese “germ warfare”, government take-overs, the “End Times”.

I feel great sympathy for a world without God. I am not surprised that they are living in fear of Coronavirus. It seems uncontrollable. It seems arbitrary in who it passes by and who it strikes. To the unsaved it signals a possible end to their existence.

Yet I am concerned by an unprecedented (there’s that word again) fear of the virus that has taken hold of many Christians. For we are told – at least 365 times (every day therefore!) – “do not fear” for “I am with you”. Indeed, we have just come out of Christmas, one central message of which comes through the angels to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid” (Luke 2: 10) What does “do not fear” look like?

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart (Proverbs 3) – does this mean we can trust Him to not allow us to get Covid-19? Well…if that is what He has told you, then YES. However, I think it is not this for most of us- it is to trust Him to be in control of our futures; He knows what He is doing; He knows the plans He has for us – and these are plans to prosper us (Jeremiah). So what is there to fear?
  • We know where we are going – everlasting life in Heaven – so what is there to fear? Oh death where is your sting, O grace where is your victory? We should have no fear – for where we are going is far, far, better than where we are now – a place of no more death or crying or pain (Revelation). Paul couldn’t decide what was better – to go to Heaven or to stay on earth to help us. This is encapsulated in the angel’s pronouncement in Luke 2: 10 “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news”. We don’t need to fear any longer because we know the Good News.

So, we look back on a year of fear – but look forward to a year of hope – where there is no more fear.

I am reminded again of the state of fear in the nation at Christmas 1939.

Great Britain was at war.  The Third Reich of Nazi Germany had ruled in Germany since Hitler took over in 1933.  Germany had become a fascist totalitarian state and the Hitler regime had spread terror across Europe.  In September 1939, Great Britain had entered the Second World War.  And in three months, the nation was gripped in the clutches of fear.  With every air-raid siren that pierced the ears of the English people, anxiety increased and fear overwhelmed them.  Uncertainty for the New Year reigned in the hearts and minds of Great Britain’s citizens.

In December 1939, King George VI was England’s reigning monarch.  As was the custom, the king addressed the nation on a BBC radio broadcast on Christmas Day, and, in the uncertain last days of 1939, the king spoke words of peace to calm his nation. He reminded them of the only true King, the One who can provide true peace and real rest in such troubled times.  As King George concluded his message of encouragement, he read the preamble of a poem that had been brought to his attention by his young 13-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth:

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied:

“Go out into the darkness and put your hand in the Hand of God.  That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

British poet Minnie Louise Haskins (1875-1957).  Published in 1908 and titled “God Knows”

The Apostle Paul, in Philippians 3 verses 13-14 modelled what should be our attitude as we enter this new year by saying:

But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, 14 I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.