Fear

BY: Deana Bell, Director, Restored Marriage
I had an unexpected thing happen to me this past weekend. In the midst of what the world is now calling a "Global Pandemic," our daughter became fiercely ill. Her symptoms included some of the same symptoms that have been associated with the "Coronavirus," or COVID-19. I could feel "fear" lurking around in my vicinity.

Last night, I watched President Trump carefully choose his words as he addressed the nation and declared that travel to the US from Europe will be suspended for the next 30 days. This morning I received a news alert that the NY Stock Exchange dropped 7% in the first 15 minutes and trading was halted. I also received a call from a friend yesterday who will be out of a job until April because her school district is closing for the next month and she is an adjunct employee, not able to receive pay during this time. On Saturday I went to my local Target to pick up a few things and was shocked to see signs declaring limits on cleaning items and other items "out of stock" until further notice.

My stories are not unusual. I'm sure, if you could tell me now, you would all have your very own stories to tell. All of these stories affect me in some way on a personal level. Some, more than others.

As the world seems to be changing so rapidly around us, we have a choice in how to respond.
On Saturday evening when my husband and I decided to take our daughter to the ER, I did three things:  First, I went to my "prayer closet" and sought the Lord. Then, I trusted my husband’s discernment that her condition warranted a trip to the hospital. Finally, I decided to ask a few close friends to pray for me, my husband and our daughter as we ventured off into the unknown of the ER.

When we arrived at the ER, we had no idea what we would face inside. Our daughter, although very sick, was also very scared. I chose to remain calm and pray under my breath whenever  I felt the tension rise. As we entered the ER doors, the waiting room was empty. Yes, empty. We walked right up to the sign-in desk and told the clerk about our daughter's situation and symptoms. The clerk didn't blink an eye. He didn't call for back-up or treat us any differently than he would have treated another family. He treated us graciously, with care and concern, but never any panic. At the end of our short interview, he calmly handed our daughter a mask and asked her to put it on. Then he told us to have a seat.

Next, the triage nurse opened the door to her room and invited us in. She took my daughter's vitals and asked a bunch of questions. She treated my daughter sweetly and kindly and empathized many times with her symptoms, saying, "I bet you feel like crud, huh, sweetie?"

Within just a few minutes they moved us to a private room for our daughter to be seen by the doctor. After a flurry of nurses and doctors coming in, they decided to do three tests: a nose swab for the flu, a chest x-ray for pneumonia, and a throat swab for strep throat. All of the nurses and doctors were friendly, bubbly, and in control of any emotions that they may have had; just as I would expect them to be as professionals.

When two of the three tests came back negative, the doctor came in to tell us that our daughter had tested positive for the flu. He carefully and succinctly described how we should care for her at home, giving us as many details as possible to reassure us that our daughter would recover in 5-7 days. We left the ER about 90 minutes after our initial arrival and were home within 2 hours.

As I sat down to reflect on what transpired, I was so thankful to the Lord. Can you look back at my story and see how the Lord intervened many times for us during that ER trip? Can you see how He used doctors, nurses and medical personnel to bless us instead of curse us? Do you see how we had a CHOICE to conduct ourselves -amid a global health crisis -in a way that aligned with Scripture?

There is are two additional things you should know about this story, that I purposely left out until now:
  1. My daughter started public school for the first time ever, 2 weeks prior to her getting sick.
  2. My daughter was never exposed to the Coronavirus and there are not currently any cases in our immediate area.

If I am completely honest, I can tell you that "fear" WAS indeed, lurking around in my vicinity.
"Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are." (1 Peter 5: 8-9 NLT)

Coincidentally (or maybe not), this is the SAME VERSE the Lord gave me during my marriage crisis. And not so coincidentally, that verse gave me peace each time it was given. Scripture is always intended to provide a safety net for its believers. When we are in trouble, we know where we should turn.

This whole problem we are facing in the world today got me thinking. I believe we, as Covenant Keepers, have a unique and timely opportunity to show the love of Christ during this crisis. A mother at my son's college perhaps said it best. "I know everyone is worried about the health and safety of our children. I want to encourage you though, and remind you that the world is looking at us believers and watching how we react to this crisis. Are we living by faith? Are we trusting The Great Physician? Are we being Ambassadors of Christ? Are we calmly doing what is asked of us? Are we ministering to the fearful?" (Liberty University Parents FB page, Lori Leckrone)

I would add that we, as Covenant Keepers, have an even greater responsibility to the world around us. We have all been through a "crisis" ourselves - our marriage crisis. And even though we may have initially reacted in fear and uncertainty, we have collectively decided to follow God's path for our lives, not the world's. We have rejected the world's standards for our lives, our marriages, and our families and we have fervently prayed that He would restore all that is lost - all in the face of circumstances that speak the opposite. How much more qualified then are WE to take our faith, endurance and stand into the world and teach the fearful?

In the face of tragedy, we have already won the battle in the prayer closet. The Lord has given us His Word time and time again, exactly in the moment that we needed it. He has provided us with a network of people to surround us in prayer and to lift us up when we are weary. And He has ultimately given us peace about our situations. So much so, that we can carry on in a world riddled with divorce and know that our Savior hears our cry.

We are uniquely qualified to minister to those believers and non-believers who fall into fear of the enemy's scheme for their lives during this global crisis. We are armed with more Scripture about fear than any other topic in the Bible. We can minister God's shalom peace to the needy. We have received it, therefore it is ours to freely and abundantly give away.

I urge you to pray instead of panic. I urge you to look specifically for the Lord during this outbreak. Seek Him first above all things (Matthew 6:33, paraphrased). Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3: 5-6). Decide in advance how you will respond. Base your response on what the Lord says about you. "He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber." (Psalms 121:3 NLT)

I would also recommend looking at what some of the trusted pastors and prophetic voices have to say about this crisis. If they are promoting or engaging in fear, it is not from God. If you don't already know, Shawn Bolz of the Translating God show on TBN and founder of Bolz Ministries, has released at FREE e-book today called, "Standing in Faith Against Coronavirus" (link here...Standing in Faith Against Coronavirus.) It's worth a read.

Friends, I am praying for you and your families. And I pray that what I have said here today does two things:
  1. Places your dependence on God
  2. Urges you to walk INTO this crisis with a heart like Jesus.
DEANA BELL:
Deana is currently one of the Directors of Covenant Keepers, International. She graduated from the Dove School of Leadership through Chesapeake Bible College and received her Pastor's license in 2019. Previously she and her husband, Koji, served as the Mid-West Regional Directors of Covenant Keepers and as small group leaders in that area. She has a degree in Secondary Education as well as experience in counseling from a biblical standpoint. For the last 20 years, she has also served her family as a stay-at-home mom and homeschool teacher. Deana's marriage has been restored since 2013.
 
She is passionate about having a relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. She has seen many miracles in her life as well as in the lives of the people around her. At her core, she is an encourager and disciple of Christ, spending most of her days ministering to people and digging into the Word. She also speaks at conferences, loves to write, and teach the Word of God. She and her family currently live and attend church in the Charlotte, NC area.

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