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GUEST SERMON: Faith over fear

["In this week's guest sermon, Pastor Abiodun Olusoji writes that God is calling His children back to the straight and narrow path of intimacy."]
Guest sermon

Pastor Wallace H. Jorden
Special to The Guardian

There are many kinds of fear that adults and children experience throughout their lifetime. But since the beginning of 2020, a new fear has entered our world, known as COVID-19. This pandemic is invisible, highly contagious, and potentially deadly, especially to the elderly and those with chronic health issues.

Until a vaccine is discovered and available, we are encouraged by health officials to take every precaution in wearing masks; maintaining social distancing; keeping our hands clean and our surroundings sanitized. These are the practical things we can do to protect ourselves and others.

COVID-19 has aroused much fear and panic in our world since its beginning. One of the things we need to understand is that our fears in this global pandemic are well-founded. We must not discount the health warnings, nor minimize the seriousness of the times in which we live. But we must also remember that, as Christians, we are a people of faith. We are called to trust God, rather than submit to fear and panic.

Psalm 46 is a call to practise faith over fear: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear” (vs.1-2). This is not to say that fear is not present; it is; but faith in God, not fear, is to be in charge, because God is still in charge. God is still with us!

The Psalmist makes this astounding observation of his day: “Nations are in uproar . . .” (vs. 6). That sounds like a fitting description of our present-day nations.  But, despite all the “uproar”, “The LORD Almighty is with us...” (vs. 6). The way to let faith have the upper hand is to heed God’s own self-proclamation: “Be still, and know that I am God” (v. 10). As people of faith, we need to know God personally and to trust His sovereign will and grace implicitly! Whatever may come or go, God is still with us, and “… we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Rom.8:37)  

Faith, however, enables us to put our focus on God, rather than on the pandemic. By focusing on God, we also experience peace in our lives that quiets our fears. The apostle Paul spoke of this inner peace as “the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:17). Even when it is beyond our understanding, God’s peace within renews our strength and quiets all our fears. We are to overcome fear by our expressed faith in God.

Another problem with giving our fears the upper hand is to focus only on ourselves and not on others. That’s what we see in the panic-buying in the marketplace. That’s why hoarding up essential supplies robs others of the chance to provide for their own families. Faith, on the other hand, focuses on God, rather than fears, which enables us to see the needs of others. We buy reasonably, even share with others from what we have. Compassion and generosity result from focusing on faith, rather than on fear. 

In summary, fear tears down; faith builds up: fear focuses on the problem: faith focuses on the solution. Let’s be a people of faith, not fear, throughout the duration of this pandemic and in the end, give all praise to the God of all comfort.

“The Lord bless you and keep you: the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you: the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” Amen. 

A guest sermon runs regularly in Saturday’s Guardian and is provided through Christian Communications.

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