COVID-19 and the Dragon of Fear
By John P. Thomas
Most all of us have seen a photo of a total eclipse of the sun. The moon passes in front of the sun and all we see is a halo of light around a dark disc. This halo is called the corona. The world in the place where the eclipse is complete falls into near total darkness even though it could be the middle of the day.
Then after a few minutes of darkness, the full strength of the sun’s light begins to become visible again as the moon slowly moves aside. At that point all we have is a memory of the corona that was once visible. But during the minutes of the eclipse, all we could see was the corona. Like a powerful magnet, it drew the full attention of everyone who saw it to such an extent that everything paused and people stood in utter amazement even if they knew it was a short lived phenomenon.
An Ancient View
In ancient times, people had many explanations for an eclipse. A popular one involved a great dragon rising up and devouring the sun. The people would pray to their favorite gods that they would be saved from total destruction.
I wonder how it was that the people all believed that the world was about to end in past ages. Was it a kind of fear-induced mass hysteria? Or was some group of people feeding them propaganda in order to take control over their lives?
A New Dragon
Today we face a different kind of dragon, only this time it is not the moon that is obscuring the Sun, but a virus that is obscuring the Son of God.
It breaks my heart to watch Christians cowering in fear during this time. It breaks my heart to watch church buildings being locked up and shuttered because of fear. It breaks my heart to know that fear has gripped the land, and most people connected with church organizations are just as caught up in fear as everyone else. It breaks my heart to watch an ever-darkening shadow of fear cross over the world and obscure faith and trust in Jesus – while mainstream news reports are constantly catastrophizing the dangers of COVID-19 by repeating half-truths and lies.
Even though there is strong evidence showing that COVID-19 is much less dangerous than is advertised, and the evidence of that fact is growing stronger every day, I want to stay focused on my primary message in this article, which is, “How do we respond to Jesus and His Great Commission during times of intense social fear and panic?”
Why Do We Fear Death?
Even if we believe COVID-19 is much more of a danger than it really is, and we say we are followers of Christ – His disciples – His students – His friends, then why do we cower in fear just like the pagans? Why do we act as if we fear death when eternal life lies ahead of us? Why do we stand in awe and amazement like the people of old times, staring at the corona surrounding the sun and hope that the dragon will not be victorious? Why do we quiver in fear of a virus while lost souls all around us might be getting ready to die and go to hell for lack of faith in Jesus?
Did God Give Us a Spirit of Fear?
2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
The question we must all face during these times is whether we have adopted the same spirit of fear that is sweeping across our country and which is occupying the hearts of pagans. Are we clinging to Jesus and the power and love that He has given us? Are we building upon the sound mind that He has given us? Are we being ruled by the Holy Spirit or being ruled by the latest news reports about how bad the corona virus pandemic is getting?
This is the Current Reality!
John 4 (KJV)
35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
People living in a state of intense fear are ready for the truth of God. They are fearing for their lives. Whether or not they speak of their mortality, many are privately wondering about their long-term future if they were to die right now. The fields are ripe for a harvest of souls.
However, many in the household of faith will say, “Not now … the virus is too dangerous … we have to keep the churches shut … we must stay locked in our homes… there are laws we must obey … we must wait until the government says it is safe to share the gospel again.”
Luke 12 (KJV)
51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
The times in which we live are calling those who say they follow Christ to submit first to the Holy Spirit and to go out and do God’s will. Not everyone will agree with the call to go out, and many will try to persuade us to just sit tight and do nothing until someone declares an “All-Clear” signal, but we need to submit to God’s will before taking advice from men.
And What is God’s Will?
Matthew 28 (KJV)
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.
Jesus did not say to only do this during times when there were no viruses floating around. He did not say to do this only when you are given permission to do this. He said to do this always, because He is always with us. His directive couldn’t be more clear than this!
Shout It from the Housetops
So, if the church buildings are put in mothballs, so be it! As followers of Jesus – His disciples, it is necessary to pray and ask God how to reach out to the lost when there are no church buildings. So, if we can’t get within six feet of lost souls, so be it! Stop and pray – and ask God how you can reach out and share the gospel with those who are waiting to hear it.
Matthew 10 (KJV)
27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
We need to learn what it means to “preach ye upon the housetops” in these days of restriction. Our task is to respond to the Holy Spirit’s lead and direction – to learn to recognize His quiet voice that impresses itself upon our hearts, – to submit to His call to action.
Consider these Options
- Perhaps this is a time to use Skype to share the gospel with someone that God places on your heart.
- Perhaps this is the time to write down your testimony about your salvation and share the document with a stranger.
- Perhaps this is the time to go for a morning walk and ask God to show you a person that needs your prayer for healing, and to ask that person if you can pray for him or her.
- Perhaps this is a time to sit down and write a hand written letter to an elderly relative and tell the person to “Be anxious for nothing,” and explain how God’s promises of eternal life will be given to those who repent for their sins and believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
- Perhaps this is the time to sing a well-known hymn praising God as you walk through the grocery store doing your shopping with the hope that someone will join you in praising the Lord. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”
- Perhaps this is the time to put a sign on your lawn with a Bible verse and your phone number, followed by a note that says, “call if you are worried and fearful for your future.”
- Perhaps this is a time to speak the 23rd Psalm aloud when filling your gas tank so that others around you could hear the promises of God.
- Perhaps this is the time to do nothing more than ask every person you see who is within the hearing of your voice, “Is there anything you need?” and see what God would have you do in response.
Are there risks in doing the kinds of things that I have just mentioned? Maybe. I am not saying break the law. I am saying it is better to fear God than man. We can live in a lockdown and practice social distancing and still be alive to the Spirit of God at the same time.
Who do You Fear and Why?
Matthew 10 (KJV)
28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
So, here is where my comments come to rest. Who or what do we fear? Who or what do we obey? Do we fear the dragon who has come to devour the hearts and minds of lost souls, yes, and even the hearts and minds of Christians? Or do we “fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell?” Are we choosing to be disciples of Jesus even when church buildings are closed? Are we willing to be creative and go out into the world and share the gospel in new and exciting ways? Are we willing to let the light of God that dwells in us shine forth into the world? Which are you choosing?
My Simple Prayer
May God bless us all as we live through these times. May we open our eyes to the continuing effort of the dragon to close the doors on faith in Jesus and to block the sharing of His gospel of salvation. May we do the will of God always – Go! Baptize! Teach to obey! – until the end of the age. Amen!
Wonderful metaphor to explain fear. I was just thinking today that the “pandemic” is really more of a “panic-demic”.
I also appreciate your practical suggestions for how to witness in out of the ordinary ways. I am an “ambulance and airplane chaser,” so to speak. Whenever I hear or pass near an ambulance (or emergency vehicle of any kind) I pray for the people involved including medical personnel. Likewise, when I hear an airplane flying overhead (I live within six miles of a major airport) I pray for all the people in the air and on the ground for safety and, especially, that this day would be of some kind of spiritual significance for them.
God’s Word is not bound, nor are His people. We just need to look around for new opportunities to accomplish His work.
I enjoyed your testimony. I, too, was raised Roman Catholic (plus 12 years of Catholic school). But I met Jesus Christ in November of 1973. :)
Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Hi John, Claudia and I just read your article and we really enjoyed it. I am one who enjoys sharing the good news of the gospel with people when ever I get an opportunity, but honestly lately I seem to fall for the lies of the enemy and get my eyes of Jesus and on on to myself. I have found your article a big encouragement and a reminder how important it is to
walk in the truth of His word and live by faith and show the love of Christ and share the great news of salvation.
Hope you and Kathleen are well and may the Lord bless you both. Marty and Claudia Richard