“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” -Psalm 23:4
The virus of our day has changed the lives of those who are still living today. Loved ones may have died, while other family or friends have become ill, some quite seriously, but nevertheless recovered. The vast majority of the populace, however, has escaped the ravages of COVID-19. Some even caught it without knowing, got over it, and really never knew they had it. Strange.
According to the media, the large health organizations, and many fearful government leaders, you could really have thought the world was coming to an end. This virus was described in newsprint and television and radio newscasts as the second coming of the Bubonic Plague. Fear was a primary assailant, a stirrer-up of intrigue, and a sure-fire seller of every media offering.
No one will ever quite know if the lockdown and required social isolation made all the difference or not, though it was touted as absolutely necessary. Yet, there is no way to go back and try it over.
The few nations which attempted the practice known as “herd immunity,” just as we always treat the different flu strains seasonally, suffered no worse than the rest of the world who were forced by mandated regulations to a severe lockdown of the economy, isolated quarantines, and eventually the universal required use of face masks.
These measures may or may not have been necessary to save more lives predicted to die from the contagion, but this will not be known perfectly in this unique situation of history. However, if there is another contagious surge of this virus as some predict, it is unlikely that the economy will be completely shut down again. Such may invoke more deaths than the virus itself.
The fear which entered my mind as a person vulnerable to the virus due to age and underlying conditions was quickly assuaged for me by the words of Psalm 23. All believers – those who died or survived, those who caught the virus or the many who did not – were comforted and emboldened by the certain truth that they were accompanied by the Good Shepherd no matter what. The Lord was with them always! There was no need, consequently, for abject, paralyzing fear in the mind and heart of the genuine Christian who believes what the Lord says.
Is this really rational in the face of a very contagious virus for which there is no vaccine or any assured therapy or medicine? Does such faith make any difference in how one contains or overcomes real fears? Does this simple verse or short Psalm quell all anxious worry? Was King David even speaking specifically to you as you face the threat of Coronavirus?
I do not think you can describe a threatening, life-endangering situation better than David did when he used the phrase “the valley of the shadow of death.” This beloved king of Israel is speaking into every situation in every age which is potentially, or even surely, a fatal predicament. Death is the most likely outcome. This is the gravest of circumstances – virus, or cancer, or immediate threat of violence.
Even in the face of death, he says, “I will fear no evil!” Death or life, the Lord is right beside you. He is your sure comfort. He is your life in death. He is your protection from any evil. Goodness and mercy is the promised result for you as a believer. You will not be thrust into despair nor paralyzing fear. Your place of certainty, no matter the outcome, will be in the Lord’s house, where He is present, where He is home!
There is no more secure place for you to be, not just today, but always. The only way to feel and know that this has become your greatest desire is for you to draw increasingly nearer to Christ now. Such is truly within your capability. You can know Jesus like this; such is promised! You can also know that though many others are seeking just such a relationship, they will never get in your way or in any way lessen you having a cherished intimacy with Him.
Pursue Him as you would your child or even a beloved pet who was lost. You just never give up or become fatigued in such a pursuit. You will search the Word for the knowledge of Him as you would cherished love letters from your spouse or fiancé.
Remember, Jesus opened the Scriptures before His two disciples on the road to Emmaus to show them how He is manifest everywhere. You can never exhaust such hungering study of His Word as you earnestly pray for the sights of Him, for your “aha” moments.
“O the deep, deep love of Jesus! Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free, rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me. Underneath me, all around me is the current of Thy love leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above.”
(First verse of S. Trevor Francis’ hymn, “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus,” 1875)
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