Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

April 14, 2020
Your fears can lead you to hope in the One who gives life

It is not that many days ago when hearing the term COVID-19 would not have caused much interest. Was it a new television series? An improved gaming system? Perhaps a popular weight loss product? Today however we know it as one of the words that are part of a new lexicon to reflect a different time. A time when other words like “social distancing,”  “self quarantine,” or “mandatory stay-at-home orders” are the rule of the day. Things historically foreign to our culture; like rows of empty product shelves or wearing surgical masks to the grocery store are now part of life. 

Fear is not a new word or concept in our personal lexicon, but never in recent memory has it appeared in such large bold letters. Someone wrote “Fear is not a voluntary passion.” We rarely chose what we fear. Fear is usually based on a perceived danger of hurt or loss. Some fear is taught: “Look both ways before crossing the street” is not a reminder to stop and take in the beauty of your surroundings. It is a caution based in the potential of serious injury or even death. 

There are fears that are irrational; they even have their own name: it’s “phobia.” There is also some fear which is discouraged or even condemned: “You shouldn’t be afraid of the puppy,” or “Stop being such a baby, turn off the light.” I am not a doctor nor have I ever played one on TV, but I understand fear can produce either a healthy caution or an irrational response. My opinion is we seem to be struggling to find a balance.

For people of faith, or people looking for a basis for faith, the Bible offers an inexhaustible source of support and insight. My challenge is not in finding appropriate verses but in attempting to focus on what may be most helpful. An obvious choice for me is from the book of Proverbs, chapter nine, verse 10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (NIV).

The fear of a father and the fear of a tyrant are vastly different; if we see God as an angry old guy just waiting for us to mess up so he can teach us a lesson by inflicting pain and suffering, we will have an unhealthy and non-biblical view of who the Lord is. The writer of the proverb is saying that an understanding of who God is brings wisdom, which I suggest gives us access to peace, not panic. 

The Apostle John records Jesus teaching to His disciples not just a personal one-time message, but a concept to be taught for generations. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 NIV).

Years ago, an acquaintance of mine named Thomas Trask said his favorite verse was “and it came to pass,” to which he added, “thank God it didn’t come to stay.” This is a difficult time in our world, not a time that will be quickly forgotten or easily dismissed, but our hope should not just be placed in the next possible vaccine, but in the One who gives life. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:9 NIV). We pray God will heal our land and give strength to hurting hearts.

Bill Upton is chaplain of the Tooele City Police Department.

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