(RNS) — Last week, the president was diagnosed with COVID-19. Now more of his aides in the White House have been diagnosed. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are in quarantine. Yet another reason for anxiety and fear, right? Yet another dose of bad news. In fact, I haven’t watched much news, but in what little coverage I did watch, the concern, fear, and anxiety were evident in the voices of reporters and commentators.
I want to urge you as you’re processing the news: Let’s respond with faith and not fear. We’ve had a lot of fear the last few months. It has come one wave after another, one tsunami after another. Fires on the West Coast, hurricanes in the Gulf Coast. We’ve got this constant threat of disease, the stress of racial anxiety. And now the most powerful man in the United States has COVID-19.
So how do we deal with this fear? Rather than stand in front of the TV and fret, stand before the Lord in prayer. Now is the time for God’s people to pray. It’s a time for the Lord to hear the voices of his people. And it’s also the time to respond with faith, to believe that our great God is as alive and active as he ever has been.
God has never promised a life with no storms. But he has promised to be there when we face them. Consider the compelling testimony of the biblical King Jehoshaphat. He ascended the throne of Judah at the age of 35 and reigned for 25 years.
According to the Book of Chronicles, the Moabites formed a great and powerful confederacy with the surrounding nations and marched against Jehoshaphat. It was a military version of a perfect storm. The Jews could handle one army. But when one army allies with another and those two combine with a third? It was more than the king could handle.
Jehoshaphat’s response deserves a spot in the anti-anxiety treatment textbook. He “set himself to seek the Lord.” He “proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” He cried out to God in prayer. He confessed, “We have no power, nor do we know what to do … but our eyes are upon you.”
God responded with this message: “Do not be afraid or dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.”
Jehoshaphat so totally believed in God that he made the remarkable decision of marching into battle with singers in front. I’m confident that the people who signed up for the choir never imagined that they would lead the army. But Jehoshaphat knew that the real battle was a spiritual one, so he led with worship and worshippers. By the time they reached the battlefield, the battle was over. The enemies had turned on each other and the Hebrews never had to raise a sword.
Learn a lesson from the king. Lead with worship. Go first to your father in prayer and praise. Confess to him your fears. Gather with his people online. Set your face toward God. Fast. Cry out for help. Admit your fear. Then, once God moves, you move too. Expect to see the God of ages fight for you. He is near, as near as your next breath.
Remember, you are never alone. And stand in faith, not fear.
Max Lucado is a San Antonio pastor and the author, most recently, of You Are Never Alone: Trust in the Miracle of God’s Presence and Power. Follow him on Twitter: @MaxLucado.