Do you have fear, folly, fatalism… or faith?
Pastor Ken, Covenant Evangelical Free Church // February 19, 2020, 12:03 pm
Fear is something we all have, and much of that is natural. But what about the kind of fear that rules over us, dominating our hearts, directing our actions?
When such fear takes control, our view of God is dimmed and our spiritual convictions dissolve. It paralyses, or it could drive us to make choices marked by worry and excessiveness.
Coming under its grip, even faithful churchgoers among us become virtually indistinguishable from an avowed atheist. This is definitely not what we are called to.
Deadened to the tender heart of God towards human suffering, we lose the earnest expectation of divine intervention.
Folly means to be dismissive concerning the reality we’re faced with. This could come from honest ignorance or worse, arise from empty, presumptuous “faith”. Such pseudo-faith is typically dependent on hollow religious mantras or cliches (Jeremiah 7:4) that bolster a false sense of invincibility and exemption while impoverishing the soul.
It clothes us with a superior attitude towards the worries of others and often belittles responsible prudence. We display a confidence and complacency that is wholly misguided. This is all too dangerous!
Fatalism is marked by a sense of hopelessness and defeatism. This could emerge from dismay over the situation. It could also appear “spiritual”, flowing from awry assumptions concerning the end times or divine judgment.
Whichever it is, fatalism shrivels our hearts. We become resigned, cynical or stoic.
Deadened to the tender heart of God towards human suffering, we lose the earnest expectation of divine intervention. This is also not what a disciple should be like.
RESPONDING RIGHTLY TO PRESENT REALITIES
Here’s where we consider how faith is expressed in such circumstances.
Unlike fear that blinkers our vision, faith broadens our perspective as we fix our gaze upwards. We look to Him, a good and all-powerful God who is far above any crisis. We learn to put our confidence in Him, amid the ongoing crisis and in spite of our human tendency to fear.
Such confidence calms and settles our hearts, developing in us a steadfast spirit and a rested soul. We come to say: “Yes, I may have fear. But I refuse to be ruled by fear.”
Unlike folly, faith is never detached from reality. In fact, faith frees us to face dire realities squarely. This means we can live with a sense of balance so that we respond to the difficult situation with prudence, circumspection and social responsibility.
Of course, faith is never fixated with such earthly realities. It looks beyond them to the ultimate reality. After all, presumption and religiosity may be about faith. But faith is never about faith. Faith is about centring on the object of our faith.
Unlike fatalism, which tells us there is nothing we can do, faith spurs God-directed acts of service. It leads us to resonate with the tender heart of God and care for what He cares about.
Faith demands that we engage in earnest and expectant intercession for these like never before.
It also means that we find practical ways to advance their well-being. This could be through something as simple as considering where to eat, choosing to patronise hard-hit small businesses most in need of our support.
So, unlike fear, folly or fatalism, faith is where restedness of the soul meets responsible action.
It means steadfastness of the heart and service to others. It means to be confident in God and to be concerned for people around us, especially the poor, weak and vulnerable. We look upwards and also look outwards.
May the present circumstances cause us as His disciples to truly learn to walk by faith. And by faith, may we as representatives of Christ distinguish ourselves from the world at times such as these, and so serve as His salt and light to our world.
Pastor Ken is a lay pastor at Covenant Evangelical Free Church and a civil servant working in the judiciary.
To cheer everyone up in this time of COVID-19, Thir.st has also created a special Telegram sticker pack called “FAITH > FEAR”!
WhatsApp users can also install our sticker pack here, but do note that you’ll first be directed to download the Sticker.ly app.
THINK + TALK
- How have you been responding to the COVID-19 situation?
- How can we respond in true faith during these times?
- Which area do you struggle most with – fear, folly or fatalism?
- What are practical ways to respond in faith?