I thought I was handling the pandemic gracefully–resting, exercising, enjoying the extra time with my husband and dog. My obsessive cataloguing of the numbers on my iPhone Notes should have clued me in.
Oblivious to this warning sign of anxiety, I headed to the bank drive-through yesterday to make a deposit. I took hand wipes and sanitizer as a precaution, just like the news suggested.
While waiting behind six cars, I was surprised by the fear-thoughts that began to percolate. All those people are touching the canister, I thought. The pen! I’ll have to use the pen they’ve held! I squeezed a bit of hand sanitizer and rubbed it in as I moved a car closer.
Oh my gosh, the teller isn’t wearing gloves after touching everyone’s money and checks all day! Another squeeze of hand sanitizer.
By the time it was my turn, my racing heart pounded visibly. I had to force myself to take the canister and put my checks in. When I signed for cash back, an unbidden “EWWW!” erupted as I held the pen. With the transactions completed, I pulled forward and stopped in the empty parking lot. After a few calming breaths, I sanitized my driver’s license that had traveled in the canister-cesspool. I sanitized my hands and arms up to my elbows. For good measure, I used the hand wipes on the cash I’d gotten… then the steering wheel, gear shift, and dash.
I closed my eyes and tried to pray. But what came out was an echo of the verse I’d read that morning in Mark 4: “Don’t you care, God?”
In the passage, the disciples face a furious squall. As crashing waves threaten to swamp their boat, Jesus sleeps. These disciples had seen Jesus heal lepers and paralytics. They had watched him drive out demons and listened to his powerful teachings. Yet they don’t have faith that his presence in the storm is enough to save them. Their fear of drowning causes them to panic. They wake Jesus and ask,
“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”Mark 4:38, NIV
I want the pandemic to end, the numbers to begin decreasing, the deaths to stop. I’ve prayed for that. Christians worldwide are praying the same. Yet, when we don’t get the answers to prayer that we desire, it can seem like Jesus sleeps. We can feel a panicky urge to shake him awake and ask him: “Don’t you care?”
Once Jesus stills the wind and restores the calm, he answers this question with two of his own:
“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”Mark 4:40 NIV
His questions show us the link between fear and faith. When one is present, the other cannot exist. That means our fear can overshadow our faith, but it also means our faith will conquer our fear.
Pandemic or not, we will always have storms in life. And during those times, our prayers may seem to go unanswered, like Jesus is sleeping unawares. When we feel that way, fear can overwhelm us. But we can overcome it by strengthening our faith. How do we do that? Through prayer and praise and reading God’s word.
Fear will try to creep back in. It’s sneaky that way. And determined. When we feel it rise, it’s a signal to refocus on the glory of God, seek Him in prayer, and fill our minds with the Bible’s promises.
King David shares one of those promises in Psalm 34:4:
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”
In the midst of this storm, we can hang on to that!
What promises are encouraging you during this time? Please share to help us all strengthen our faith and conquer our fears!
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for being awake and always present in the storms of life. Turn our focus away from the crashing waves that threaten to overwhelm us and toward you, the one who delivers us from fear.