Guatemala announced its first cases of COVID-19 Friday.
We sent the kids home with all their stuff, including textbooks.
And sure enough, yesterday the President announced that all schools here are canceled for at least the next 21 days.
Is God surprised by this pandemic?
Has He suddenly lost control?
Did this sneak up on Him?
Of course not.
He knows your details.
And He knows mine.
He knows that no one from the U.S. or Canada is allowed to come in after Sunday.
He knows that there isn’t adequate running water in many places in this country to wash hands properly.
He knows all the mission trips canceled, all the people and ministries impacted, all the fears and concerns.
He knows how long this will last.
He knows the economic impact.
He knows – and He has it all under control. Truly.
Friday my Bible lesson for 3rd and 4th grade turned into talking about fear and Coronavirus and the Holy Spirit.
All week we had been studying how Peter was transformed from a coward to mighty mouthpiece for God, simply by the addition of the Holy Spirit to his life.
How he went from denying the Lord to leading a worship service where 3,000 got saved.
And how we too can be transformed from fear-filled to faith-full.
That was the content of the lesson for the week.
But the application on Friday was what that looks like when you are 8 or 9-years old – or much older than that – and scared.
What does it look like to trust God in this time, in this place, in this global crisis?
And I shared with them how God’s Spirit is NOT one of fear but instead HE is the Spirit of Power, Love and Self-Control. (2 Timothy 1)
So if you are a follower of Christ, you have already been given all that you need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1).
You received the gift of the Holy Spirit at salvation.
And with that gift comes unlimited power.
Power to battle back the negative emotions and the “what-ifs”.
Power to love other people and put their needs ahead of our own.
Power to rest in His strength, the knowledge of who He is, the certainty that He is in control.
Power to take every thought captive to Christ. Every worry. Every fear. Every time.
The Spirit of Love that says, “You first” instead of “Me first.”
Love that says, “No, I probably won’t get it. But if I stay home, I will lessen the chance of YOU getting it.”
Love that says, “How can I help? What can I pray about for you? How can I put feet to my prayers, too?”
Love that shares instead of hoards.
Love that seeks to help, not blame.
All wrapped up in the package of self-control.
Controlling our fears.
Controlling our tongues.
Controlling our thoughts.
Controlling what we post.
Controlling our responses.
Because the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in me.
The same love that held Him to the cross flows through me.
The same self-control that kept Him from calling down 10,000 angels to intervene keeps me together.
And you, too.
It is a gift.
He did NOT give a spirit of fear.
But He DID give the good stuff.
Or rather, the Good Comforter.
The Good Power Source.
The Good Help In Time of Need.
So now it is up to me to unwrap the gift.
To not just acknowledge His presence with my mouth.
But to live the truth that I am indwelt by the God of the Universe.
I can cling to the spirit of fear that is pervading society and trying to pervade my heart.
Or I can rest in the Spirit of the Living God.
I can feed the spirit of fear.
Or I can feed my faith with the truth of Scripture, the Bread of Heaven and the Living Water that flows through me.
I can act like fear is my honored guest, allowing it free access to every thought, every corner of my heart and all of my actions.
Or I can treat it like the hostile invader that it is and use the power of Almighty God to take it captive.
What does that look like practically?
I replace each fearful thought, each time it crosses my mind, with a fact about God, a truth from His Word, a record of His faithfulness, a promise He has made.
And then I fill my mind with what is good: praise songs, sentences from Scripture, and memories of His faithfulness that I have seen in my life.
Which one will you do today?
Feed your fear?
Or kick it out every time it tries to return and feed your faith instead?
You already have all you need to do the second.
Because You have NOT been given the spirit of fear.
But instead You have inside you the Spirit of the Living God.
Please, please, unwrap the gift and use it. Use Him.
You will be so glad you did.
And the watching, dying, hopeless, fear-filled world will see a difference in you. They will want to know what you have. And you can share the hope instead of the fear.
May COVID-19 cause us to die to self, die to fear, die to selfishness.
May it cause us to live for Him.
So that the world may know Him, too.