Captured and castrated, enslaved in a foreign land, forced to serve an idolatrous ego-maniac dictator.  Instructed to eat unclean food, practice unclean acts, within a corrupt system of government.  Four young men, united in one thing—obeying the One True God.  They chose to obey God. They confronted the system and said yes to God and no to the dictator.  I believe they must have been full of fear.  But they acted in fearful courage.  Their story is told in Daniel 1.

 

Twelve leaders chosen from the entire nation.  Chosen for their bravery, tenacity, and history of leadership.  Each given the unique opportunity to cast their vote in whether their tribe and their nation should cross over a river and fight a formidable enemy.  Only two voted yes. Only two men out of twelve believed in the promises of God over the majority opinion.  They said yes to God and no to mainstream media.  Fearful courage.  Their story is found in Numbers 13-14.

 

When a 13-year-old boy entered the valley, he heard a giant of a man ridiculing his God and his nation.  His only reaction was a passion to fight.  He had never fought in such a battle.  Everyone, including his own brothers, shamed him for even considering such a possibility.  He stepped out, obeying God.  Fearful courage.  See 1 Samuel 17.

 

In March of this year, we learned of the coronavirus, now known as Covid-19. The whole world was enveloped in fear.  We didn’t know much.  Was this like Ebola? Was this such a strain of virus that people would be falling over dead, bleeding out in the streets?  After 10 months we know a lot.  We have discovered that healthy people, immune strong, children, and young people are barely impacted by it.  Yet schools, churches, small businesses, and restaurants have shut down.  The fear continues unabated.

 

We have also found that the side effects of isolation have been devastating in our nation!  Suicides are up 30%, domestic violence 35%, divorce 45%, and mental anxiety 50%.  A few recent articles:

 

“There is a high cost associated with the essential quarantine and social distancing interventions for COVID-19, especially in older adults, who have experienced an acute, severe sense of social isolation and loneliness with potentially serious mental and physical health consequences.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7306546/)

 

The same article continues, “Loneliness is associated with various physical and mental repercussions, including elevated systolic blood pressure and increased risk for heart disease. Both loneliness and social isolation have been associated with an increased risk for coronary artery disease-associated death, even in middle-aged adults without a prior history of myocardial infarction (Heffner et al.2011; Steptoe et al.2013). Furthermore, research has shown that both loneliness and social isolation are independent risk factors for higher all-cause mortality (Yu et al.2020).”

 

Frontiers in Psychology magazine writes, “The most common psychological disorders emerging are anxiety and panic, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, insomnia, digestive problems, as well as depressive symptoms and post-traumatic stress (Rogers et al., 2020). These are not only a direct consequence of the pandemic but also largely driven by the effects of prolonged social isolation – that is the objective lack of interactions with others (Leigh-Hunt et al., 2017). The medical journal, The Lancet, recently published an article from which a clear and alarming picture emerges: periods of isolation, even less than 10 days, can have long-term effects, with the presence – up to three years later – of psychiatric symptoms (Brooks et al., 2020).” https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02201/full

 

We are in need of fearful courage! But don’t misunderstand what I’m saying.  Not everyone should leave their home or their aged loved ones, due to pulmonary issues or a compromised immune system.  But if ever we needed to walk in fearful courage, now is the time.  Even if you are quarantined at home, have fearful courage. Even if you are still not sure what to do, have fearful courage.  Use the time to pray, spend hours in God’s Word, build up your faith! Stay connected to your friends and church. Fully live!

 

Fearful courage is courage in the face of fear; fearful courage is acknowledging your fears but trusting God when all your questions aren’t fully answered.  Fearful courage is the air we breathe as Christians.

 

As we enter 2021, I pray that we will have fearful courage.  It’s the only way to really live!

 

Living with Fear,

Pastor Steve