By Rev. Dr. Timothy Tee Boddie, Alfred Street Baptist Church; immediate past General Secretary and Chief Administrative Officer of the Progressive National Baptist Convention in Washington, DC
This major health challenge the world is facing has not been seen in generations—perhaps never before! A whole new glossary of terms has been introduced into the global lexicon: Coronavirus, social distancing, self-quarantining, community spread, etc. What began as a viral epidemic only a few months ago has escalated into a global pandemic today, causing unprecedented levels of stress, anxiety, and panic, which officials are now predicting may last for months.
At a recently televised news conference, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York stated that we are fighting two wars—one against the COVID-19, and the other against FEAR. He went on to assert that our more devastating battle is the one against fear because misinformation and confusion generated by fear cause people to become unreasonable and irrational.
Fear is such a treacherous enemy because it is based upon the unseen, the unknown and/or untrue. A familiar acronym calls fear, “False Evidence Appearing Real.” This is why the Apostle Paul reminded young Timothy that, while fear may be natural, it does not dwell in the Supernatural.
“For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1: 7, NKJV)
It is interesting to note in this verse that the antithesis of fear is neither faith nor courage. For fear in these especially trying times is normal. The antidote to fear, according to the scripture, is power, love, and sound mind (self-discipline).
From where do we get the power to operate in love against fear? It comes from a faithful God through the discipline of faithful prayer. It comes from a deep desire to love God with heart, mind, and soul, but just as important in this dire moment, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. John, the beloved disciple, put it this way, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18, NRSV)