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How to Choose Faith in the Shadow of Death

Christians face a choice each day, and it isn’t an easy one. We have to choose between faith and fear. COVID-19 is changing our lives and the world as we know it. One can hardly have a conversation without the Coronavirus becoming the subject matter. For many, it started as news from the distant land of Wuhan, China. Little did we then know that this deadly virus would reach our doorsteps. But COVID-19 is here, and we are yet to understand its full impact.

According to the latest statistics, approaching the end of April, over two and a half million people have contracted the virus and there have been nearly 190 000 deaths. These numbers grow daily. How do we respond to such a deadly threat that has changed almost everything? There are two options: fear or faith. The choice is yours. What will you choose?

David knew what it felt like to walk through the valley of shadow of death. Yet he remained confident

Choose Your Point of Focus

I have delivered a series of reflections titled: faith or fear. They attempt to take our eyes off of the scary stories and figures by shifting them to the comforting and enduring Word of God. The reality is that some of you reading this article will suffer loss. It may be your job, savings, or even someone close to you. Scary as that may sound, God exhorts us by his Word to respond with faith, not fear. But how do we make that choice in the face of such calamity?

We might start by looking at the words of David, a man who knew his fair share of trials and tribulations. Hear his words in Psalm 23:4, “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.”

“I fear no evil, for you are with me”

David’s rock solid confidence in the LORD is both evident and striking. His faith was not based on the assumption that evil would not come. Yet many think their faith will cause God to prevent any evil or suffering from coming near to them. They put their confidence in that erroneous belief. Not long ago, I heard some believers giving assurance to each other by saying that they need not to worry about COVID-19. For they believe that they are the untouchable ones of God. The virus will not even touch them. Such a perspective of faith is dangerous.

Many think their faith will cause God to prevent any evil or suffering from coming near to them. They put their confidence in that erroneous belief.

If you read the Psalms, you will quickly notice that even David, the man after God’s heart, the chosen King, did not enjoy a trouble-free life. He faced external enemies and on-going opposition to his leadership, even from his own household. His life was in danger many times. He faced evil from within as he suffered the consequences of his own sinfulness. David knew what it felt like to walk through the valley of shadow of death. Yet he remained confident. His faith in the Lord did not waver. How did he make that choice? Well, David tells us the reason for his confidence. He was not afraid in the face of evil and calamity because the Lord was with him throughout suffering.

But how does it help to know that God is present with us in the midst of COVID-19, you may ask?

“I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”

Well, growing up as a young Israelite boy, David would have heard stories of how God parted the waters and rescued his people from the Egyptian armies at the Red Sea; how the wall of Jericho came down as God’s people sang and walked around the city in obedience to his Word; and many other stories of God’s powerful hand at work in the lives of his people. David himself could share personal testimonies of the numerous times God had rescued him. We need only think of Goliath. The bottom line is this: David knew God’s powerful presence. Knowing that humbled every fear, no matter how dark the valley. Knowing that helped him to choose faith and not give in to fear.

Do not let the valley obscure your faith in our trustworthy and powerful God

So, as we self-isolate and come to terms with the impact of COVID-19, we must remember that we are not facing this alone. God is with us. He has the power to stop the virus. He is the Creator of the universe. No problem is too hard for him. In fact, we know he has set a day when all disease and trouble and pain will be no more. As we read in Revelation 21: 3-4, “I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

“Fear not, for I am with you”

Ultimate defeat for all our enemies is certain – guaranteed. This end is assured by God’s promises and proven faithfulness. For now, there are moments when it will feel like we are in the valley of the shadow of death. Facing COVID-19 is such a time. The valley will be darker for some. We may even contract the virus and become a statistic. Yet faith remains the right choice. Not fear. The worst the virus can do is kill us, though many are actually recovering from it. As believers in Christ, we know death is not the last word. For Christ conquered death. Though Christians die now we will be raised to new life, to life eternal with God. Do not let the valley obscure your faith in our trustworthy and powerful God.

Ultimate defeat for all our enemies is certain, guaranteed. This end is assured by God’s promises and proven faithfulness

At times we may cry out, as Christ did on the cross, “my God my God, why have you forsaken me?” Surely, there are moments in which we feel that way? But deep down, let us recite and rest in those comforting words of the Father in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Fear not. Choose Him. For he is with you.

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