None of us would have thought that life could become so complicated. Yes, there have always been difficulties. Hardship and misery have always been part of world affairs. But what we have experienced in recent months is more than a local hardship. Around the world, the Coronavirus has affected humanity, and it is predominantly the elderly who are affected.
This rampant hardship naturally raises questions about the future. Or should we rather call these questions “worries?” You know what I mean. What lies behind us, no matter how problematic it may have been, we have overcome with God’s help. It is the future that makes our lives difficult. And that is often the case, especially in the life of an aging person.
When we talk to others about the future, there is always someone who adds another word and talks about the “unknown future.” And that encompasses everything. You do not know what I mean? Let me explain it to you. We are completely helpless in the face of the “unknown future!” More precisely, we do not hold the steering wheel in our hand and have no influence on where the way leads us. We don’t know what to expect, and we don’t know what may come upon us. And that is difficult. Even the strongest can get scared.
Do you still read the daily newspaper? Or maybe you’ve dared to get acquainted with technology and get your information via the Internet. No matter how, the supply of news is taken care of. We are informed. Whether everything that we see and hear is true, nobody knows. In any case, we absorb news, information, opinions, and ideas. And the more we expose ourselves to this news, the more complicated our world becomes. I’m sure you’ve experienced this as well. It almost seems to me that people become more than informed. They become weighed down. Fears complicate life, and for some, it is almost to the point of intolerability. And since we are “generous,” we don’t keep the fears to ourselves but then burden others with them as well.
Angst. This German word, meaning fear, says so much that it has been incorporated into the English language. Angst knows no national or linguistic boundaries. It is everywhere, and is constantly looking for new victims. Someone said, “I am like David, I am facing Goliath. Only I have two Goliaths!” Perhaps it is a little exaggerated, but nevertheless, thereby much is said. It seems it cannot go on.
The Bible also speaks of fear. One example is found in Numbers 13-14. Before taking the land of Canaan, Moses sent out twelve spies. They were to scout out the land that lay before them and then report back. Upon their return, ten insisted that this land was impregnable. They spoke of a people who would be “too strong” for them and even mentioned giants they had encountered. When this news was heard and received by the people, a great fear settled on all of them. They shouted and cried, grumbled, and wanted to appoint a captain who would take charge of leading the people back to Egypt. They listened to the report of these men, and fear overcame them to the point of despair.
Fear has a paralyzing effect. Fear robs us of courage and zest for life. Fear attacks our health. Fear keeps us from performing our tasks and duties. Fear does many more things that could be mentioned here.
Is there a cure for fear? How can we become master of the situation?
I once came across a book that was a great help to me. Maybe it can help you too. Actually, I didn’t even open the book. I did not take any ideas from the book. I did not even read the explanations of the author, although they were surely good. It was the title of the book. Big letters stared at me, and on the cover I read, “By the Way, God Is Still Here!” I wrote those words down and attached them to my filing cabinet with a magnet. When fear wants to overcome me, I take one look at the statement, “By the Way, God Is Still Here!” How many times have these words directed my gaze to the Lord and lifted me up!
May I go back to the scouts? Ten “gave a bad report of the land,” it says. But let us not overlook the other two spies, Joshua and Caleb. When the people spoke of returning, they were of a completely different opinion. They saw the situation through different eyes. In their assessment of the situation, they included the living God: “Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them” (Numbers 14:9). In plain language, “By the way, God is still here!”
What the future will bring for us, we do not know. It is unknown whether a vaccine will get the Coronavirus under control, whether the economic situation will soon improve, whether…, whether…. But one thing we do know: “By the way, God is still here!”
And this great God has promised to be with and for us. Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” We know that the New Testament is a translation from the Greek. Linguists speak of this verse as containing a fivefold negation and actually translates literally as, “I will not forsake thee! Never! No! Never and in no way will I forsake you.”
Brother and sister, do not let the mountain of negative news weigh you down! Do not let fear overwhelm you! Let me shout it to you again: “By the way, God is still here!” Only seven words and yet what a tremendous encouragement! You could also do as I did and write down the seven words and mount them somewhere. That way, they can remind you every day that God is there and will help you through the day.