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This is no time for fear to rule

by BOB SHILLINGSTAD/Special to The Press
| August 29, 2020 1:00 AM

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline.” Timothy 1:7

Pastor Tim Remington, who has also been appointed to fill a term in the legislature from District 2, quoted that scripture this last week as he addressed the legislature. This is a needed admonition of God’s word that we need to hear. In Psalm 27:1 it says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?” Fear is spoken over 500 times in the Bible and “fear not” is actually written 365 times in the Bible! But if you turn over to Psalm 31:13 we read, “I hear many whispering, ‘Terror on every side.'” Does life seem this way today? As I write this the gulf coast is preparing for a major hurricane to come ashore, another storm to interrupt our lives. If only our storms were limited to wind and rain. Our tempests consist of the big “Ds” of life: difficulties, divorce, disease, and death. Do you know where to find a shelter that is suitable for these gales? It is not in a state of fear.

We see little children at the store or walking down the street with masks on and a look of fear in their eyes. Shopping, dining are avoided because it has ceased to be enjoyable to be out in society, there is so much fear. Many are wondering, does the science and data support this fear? A new poll asked Americans how many people have had COVID-19 or died from it. Their answer was that 20% of Americans have had it and 9% have died from it! The reality is that 1% of Americans have had it and 0.04% have died from it! The median age of those that have died with the virus is 78, which also is the average life span of Americans. Jane and I are both close to this age, we realize, as Max Lucado says, “the book of life is lived in chapters, so know your page number.” We are healthy but realize cancer and heart disease are a risk and each will kill over 600,000 this year. There are many threats to worry about that threaten us with heaven. The vast majority of COVID-related deaths were over age 70 and nearly half were residents of nursing homes. The average stay in a nursing home is less than a year. Each death is a loss to families but we know that this awaits us all.

This brings us to the issues of today — should we continue the fear and restrict education and the reopening of schools? What is going to be long term effects of this pandemic? The Centers for Disease Control has given us the stratified data on COVID with regard to age. We now know that for children under the age of 15 they really couldn’t come up with a percentage of a risk to this age group from the virus. From age 15 to 24, high school and college, 99.8% would have no serious effects from the virus. A recent U.K. study showed that there is no evidence of students transmitting the virus to teachers, in fact they are not bringing it home to parents or grandparents in any measurable way. Sweden never closed their elementary schools and most western countries opened schools last spring.

Why is this important? The consequences of our decisions in this country are alarming. We are seeing issues of serious depression up 80% and suicide up 25% this year. Schools play a critical role in supporting the whole child, not just their academic achievement. In addition to a structure for learning, schools provide a stable and secure environment for developing social skill and peer relationships. Extended school closures deprive children who live in unsafe homes and neighborhoods of an important layer of protection from neglect as well as physical, sexual and emotional maltreatment and abuse. They need to be in an atmosphere of no fear.

Trusting God’s control in these times allows us to rest in Him, to pray for our nation and the world, and to reach out with boldness and compassion. The past few months, rather than honestly dialoguing with those who disagree with the established view surrounding COVID-19, some media and tech outlets have sought instead to discredit, censor, or emotionally shame opposing views, accusing them of being heartless or uncaring. Today, we can see many Americans fearfully demanding for more government control and benefits in exchange for freedom.

Isaiah 8:13 says, “Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” God alone is the one Whom we must fear. For the Christian, to fear God is not to be terrified of Him; rather, it is to have a holy, reverent, awe and respect for Who He is. A genuine fear of God our Father motivates our service and provides immense comfort, knowing that He cares for us every moment. If you know Christ, are you trusting or worrying? Are you being faithful to serve Him in these difficult times?

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Bob’s religion columns appear Saturdays in The Press. Email Bob: bjshill@mac.com