We were returning from a trip to Philadelphia when we saw the first alarming news of the spread of swine flu on CNN in the airport waiting room at Dallas Fort Worth Airport. Since then the news has been grim, but according to the physicians in my life also overblown and exaggerated. Fear is just as contagious as a virus at times. Fear was actually the topic of my last sermon, its difficulties and the way it can freeze us in our tracks. We live in a time of fear---fear of disease and storms and terrorism and economic collapse. The world is a scary place, but it has always been scary to be human. The important question to ask is how do you deal with that fear so that it does not consume your life?
My fear is made manageable by the family and friends who love me and care about what's going on in my life. I heard just this morning from our former Chinese teacher, who has returned to teaching in her university in China. She had seen news of the swine flu in Texas and wrote to ask if we were okay. I wrote back to assure here we are fine at the moment. I'm praying for all of those who have been affected by this disease, including those like my husband, sons and daughter-in-law who are physicians caring for those who are ill.
But mostly the way I deal with fear is by turning to God. The text I preached on the Sunday after Easter was from the Gospel of John and ended with the author's explanation that the gospel was written so that we might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing we might have life in his name. Not constant fear, which is no way to live, but life abundant and joyful. That's a lesson I have to regularly relearn, and I have my own times of fear and grief and sadness. But I have learned to turn to God for comfort in such dark and fearful times, and I've never been disappointed or left alone when I seek God's presence at such times.
Grace and Peace,