This message was preached last March 14, 2020, by Pas. Rolly Seveses.
We are beset by a local challenge that has now become a worldwide-pandemic which is COVID-19. This has resulted to a lockdown of NCR and possible community lockdowns. COVID-19 has changed the way people deal with each other–there is now social distancing; work habits have changed; people have become health-conscious; planned vacations have been canceled; even church activities have been disrupted.
But one change it has brought to people evidenced by the panic buying spree that we see around us is that people are anxious. One member texted me that she is about to go crazy because there are PUIs in her office and there is no way that she can work from home. Another mentioned that he is becoming paranoid. Unbelievers and believers alike are worried.
While there may be a hundred or more infected with COVID-19, there may be a million or more infected with panic and paranoia. I want to address the root of panic and paranoia this morning which is the state of anxiety.
Let me give you seven Biblical antidotes to anxiety:
1. This is the best antidote to combat anxiety. And it is easy because you don’t have to line up. You don’t have to wait for your number to be called. You can do it anywhere.
2. Phil 4:6-7. This is not as absolute as absolute can be (cf Phil 2:20; 2 Cor 11:28). There is a proper kind of worry which we call “concern.” But what this refers to is an anxiety that is marked by worry over the things and the circumstances of this world which in the first place you have no control over. Let’s call it sinful anxiety, carnal anxiety, earthly anxiety.
3. There is great temptation to be anxious these days because of the what-ifs of the situation: what if I am laid off; what if I get infected; what if my tickets are not refunded, what if my scheduled wedding will not push through, etc. Though we are to be concerned, these were real issues, according to Paul, we cannot be unduly worried.
4. What are we to do? We are to lay before the Lord whatever worries us and if we have done that sincerely and trustingly God will change our worry to peace. Whether the Lord addresses our need or not is really not the issue at this point. What is being addressed is not the cause of worry as much as they worry itself. God promises that if we pray and petition with thanksgiving our worry will change to peace. How much therefore do you pray when worry hits you? The peace of mind that you will have in troublesome times is directly proportional to how much you pray during those times.
5. 1 Pet 5:7. There are times when the providence of God is heavy and this is meant to humble us. Such is suffering. There are other circumstances like sickness, poverty, loss, failure, disease. What are we to do? Same as Phil 4, we cast our anxiety on Him because He cares for us. Note how we cast (cf Lk 19:35). Also, Ps 55:22.
II. Fill your minds with Scripture.
1. I’m sure your minds are filled with news and information about the COVID-19 that if people ask you about it you have an answer. In fact, that may be the culprit of your worry, you know too much! Here’s the good news, you can also fill your mind with God’s word. Why do I say that this is an antidote to anxiety? Luke 10:41.
2. Scripture makes us strong (Ps 1:3); it also aids us in overcoming an idle mind (Phil 4:8). An idle mind is a fertile ground for anxiety to grow. But a mind that is filled with the garden (“your word is like a garden with flowers bright and fair”) of Scripture will more naturally resist the weeds of anxiety.
3. Have you skipped devotions or Bible reading just because you want to be updated with the news? Jesus is calling your name and saying…”blank, blank you are worried over so many things..”
III. Meditate on the greatness of God.
1. Fear usually stems from viewing something larger than it is supposed to be. The invisible virus becomes a huge intimidating mountain. People become paranoid.
2. But when we talk great, who is the greatest? When we talk large, who is the largest? When we talk power who is the most powerful? When we talk invisible who is the invisible being that we shd fear?
3. Is 40:21-26. Elevate your thoughts about God and problems become smaller. God is in control (not the devil and not the virus). He is sovereign. Nothing will happen to you that God has not allowed. And if He allows it to happen it will be for your good.
4. Is your response to the crisis showing that your God is great or the virus is greater?
IV. Call to mind that in any and every situation God’s eyes are focused on you.
1. God is watching over you (Ps 34:15-18 cf 1 Pet 3:12).
2. Also Ps 1:6; Ps 23:4,6; 121:7,8; 139:2,3; Is 66:2. We are God’s children; God’s sheep; God’s church purchased with the very blood of Jesus. He will never leave us or forsake us.
3. The hand that brings about trial or chastisement is the hand of our loving heavenly Father.
V. Fix your eyes on Jesus and not on the troublesome circumstances of life.
1. Heb 12:1-2. This is the posture of the Christian race amidst the many difficulties and challenges that we encounter. We don’t look to ourselves or look back or even look at our circumstances; we look to Jesus (Mat 14:30).
2. We look to Jesus for grace, for help, for example, for comfort, for guidance, for protection (Ps 56:3).
VI. Think about the dangers of worrying too much about the world.
1. Mat 13:22. The worry of the world affects faith greatly that ultimately it kills it. Of course, true faith cannot be killed. But it can be hindered and weakened by too much worry.
2. One example is Demas (2 Tim 4:10).
VII. Focus your thoughts heavenward looking forward to better things.
1. Things may improve in a few months, we look forward to that, but what about after? When will the next pandemic take place? There is no real rest in this world; it is filled with trouble (cf Job 5:7).
2. Col 3:2; 2 Cor 4:16-18. When is your best life? Is it now or the future?
1. For Believers: Be people marked with peace and trust however challenging the situation. Continue serving and continue hoping that the day of the Lord Jesus would come and bring us all to glory.
2. For Unbelievers: Fear God more than COVID-19. God is a more dangerous enemy than Covid19. Be God’s friend by trusting in Jesus for salvation.