According to a story on Fox News yesterday “Americans are feeling isolated and anxious. They fear they or their loved ones will get sick. They worry about their jobs.” They go on to tell us that according to the COVID Impact Survey by NORC
“Roughly two-thirds of Americans say they felt nervous, depressed, lonely or hopeless on at least one of their past seven days, the poll found. For each of the four emotions, close to 2 in 10 Americans said they felt that way on three or more days. Fourteen percent said they felt reactions such as sweating, becoming nauseous or hyperventilating when thinking about their experience with the pandemic.”
We are facing new challenges today. There are fears associated with the virus itself. Fears of what happens with our economy. Fears of the divisions in our country. Even fears about the future of our food supply. Escapism can become a temptation for us when we are facing things like these. To hide or ignore the challenges in front of us. To allow these evils to dominate us. The only other choice available to us is the choice to confront the things we fear.
The Bible is filled with stories about God’s people being faced with new challenges. Challenges that often seemed insurmountable. A teenager named David faced a nine foot tall professional warrior named Goliath. Gideon faced a Midianite and Amalekite army, with only 300 men, that was as … “thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.” (Judges 7:12). Paul confronted immorality in the church of Corinth when it was reported that there was …”sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?” (1 Corinthians 5:1-2).
Every generation of God’s people have had to face new challenges. The challenges of David, Gideon, Paul and all the other challenges we see in the Bible show us over and over one single consistency in the challenge and in the confrontation of the challenge, God was always there.
The LORD will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:5-6)
And not only is God with us but He tells us that the future is His and that we have nothing to fear.
“But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:32-33)
But to whom is this promised? Is it promised to all those in this world or only to the moral or only to those who are righteous? It is clearly not promised to the whole world but could it apply to all the moral people of the world? Each of us have known people that were moral and yet not followers of Christ. People who have compassionate hearts, who tell the truth, who do not steal, who do not envy. People that are living “good lives”. Are they too protected by this promise?
For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. (John 17:8-9)
Clearly it is for those who believe in Jesus. Before all this began we were asking the question, are people’s lives better when living by God’s laws? We examined all of the final seven commandments and we determined that all people who live by them are better off, regardless of being believers. But we also know that while living by these moral rules enhances our lives, no one can keep them all perfectly and that is what being righteous means.
What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:9-12)
So how can we take comfort from the promise of Jesus? Because Jesus stepped down from His throne and became one of us and He did it perfectly.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
He then voluntarily went to His death to pay the penalty we deserved.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
You see Jesus is “the Righteous One” (Acts 7:52). We are not made righteous by moral living because we cannot meet the standard of always living morally. We only become righteous in God’s eyes when we choose to believe in Jesus. When we put our faith in Jesus. When we confront our fears with Jesus.
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:20-26)
How do we overcome these challenges today? How do we overcome the fears? We overcome them through our trust and faith in Jesus Christ.
for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4-5)