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By Philipp Rüsch
Europe, Global, NW Europe
Jesus knows we have fears, and he is aware of the reality of troubles and worries in our lives (John 16.33). He never belittles our fears and actually takes them quite seriously. But he also knows how fears can limit our faith, confine our actions, cause our souls to wither and lead to irrational decisions.

Fear is helpful to some extent. Fearing danger is for our own sake and protection. If we wouldn't fear anything, I would be worried about our general state and emotional balance. Healthy concerns help us to protect ourselves and prepare for unwanted circumstances. What I see today happening, however, is how uncertainty widely leads to fear, anxiety and irrational behavior.

I for one am concerned about my parents’ health in this coronavirus situation. They are older and have some preconditions, so the potential risk is not to be taken lightly. I think this concern is legit. But we need to be careful about the moment when concerns turn to fear.

Because fear can paralyze you. It limits your thinking capacity for long-term good decisions, and you just want to run and flee, which in many situations might not be the best option. Fear and anxiety also have many more negative effects on your body and brain; our immune system and the way we think is directly affected by this form of stress. I believe that is why we read so many times in the Bible: “fear not” (apparently 365 times, but I didn’t confirm this). If fear wouldn’t be so dangerous, would we read these many encouragements that speaks directly against it?!

My personal guiding verse through this current crisis is Daniel 10:19 (MSG): “‘Don’t be afraid, friend. Peace. Everything is going to be all right. Take courage. Be strong.’” It is part of God's big love to invite us not to fear but to trust him. I think we read this so many times in the Bible because Jesus knows it is not a one-time act to cast our fears on him but something we regularly need to do. We need to make this a habit in our lives.

When we see paralyzing fear creeping up again, we need to cast it to Jesus. Again and again. Habits are hugely important in life in general and especially in our current situation. Our brain is a wonderful tool and it remembers how we have dealt and acted before. Thus, routines and habits will get easier time after time. I believe this is true for casting our fears to Jesus. Do it regularly. Daily.

The wonderful thing about giving our fears away is that we get something in return: Peace. Looking back at my life, I have experienced the reality of God the most in situations when he exchanged my fear with his peace. He loves doing that. And I can testify there are no fears bigger than God's peace. God's wonderful peace is all-encompassing.
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