I don’t know about you, but with wall-to-wall Covid19 news everywhere you go it makes me long for the good old days of Brexit!!
With so much fear and anxiety filling the airwaves, let me share a really short, personal Easter message with you:
Let me give you two very good reasons why I am not afraid and why you needn’t be either, not of Covid19 now or of any other pandemic in the future.
YOU ARE ALMOST CERTAINLY NOT GOING TO DIE AS A RESULT OF COVID19
I guess like most people, at the start of this crisis I was under the impression that to be infected with Covid19 was to receive a death sentence. As the dust has settled it is apparent that this is simply untrue. Even for the minority who will be unfortunate enough to be infected by Covid19, the vast, overwhelming majority of them will simply recover from it with no ill-effects. Even amongst the most vulnerable the recovery rate is still greatly in their favour – many, many more will survive than die (even for those aged 80+ the survival rate is about 85% – even higher if they are in good health). There’s even a distinct possibility that you’ll have had Covid19 all ready and not even realised it!
Of course, the headline “600 MORE DIE OF COVID19” is more sensational than “60,000+ MORE RECOVER FROM COVID19”. [Though in reality virtually no-one dies of Covid19. Rather they die with Covid19 but die of other underlying health issues]. But don’t just take my word for any of this, this article by a professor of pathology and a former NHS consultant pathologist goes into lots more detail.
I am not belittling anyone’s loss or denying that Covid19 is a public health threat. But the message of hopeless despair & impending death that so many are peddling is massively disproportionate to the risk. So, DO NOT FEAR you are almost certainly not going to die of Covid19.
But I realise statistics can be cold comfort – especially if you’re one of the unfortunates ones on the wrong side of the odds. So let me give you a better reason not to be afraid …
YOU ARE MOST DEFINITELY GOING TO DIE!
One of the consequences of this crisis is that it has confronted people with their own mortality. Life is precious but it is also precarious. We have become masters of distracting ourselves from the certainty of our own inevitable fate. Even the remote possibility of dying as a consequence of Covid19 – the very shadow of death – has left many crippled with fear and paranoia.
Even before I realised how overstated the risk from Covid19 was I had no fear of it. Instead my mind kept returning to the lyrics of a very old song:
“Even though I walk through the dark valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil“.The Shepherd Song
The song was written by a shepherd and prolific song writer called David Jesseson about 3000 years ago. The lyrics go onto explain why David was not afraid:
“God is with me; His rod and His staff they comfort me”.The Shepherd Song
A shepherd’s rod was something like a club – they used it to fend off wild animals. Over time it has evolved into a modern mace – a symbol of power and authority.
A shepherd’s staff was more like a typical shepherd’s crook – used almost like a walking stick with a ‘hooked” end for rescuing lost/stranded sheep. It is a symbol of a shepherd’s love and care for his flock.
David feared no evil because God was with him. He knew God’s power & authority over his life – fighting for him and protecting him from enemy attack; He knew God’s love & care for him – gently rescuing him and keeping his life on the right track. Knowing this was enough to comfort & reassure David – even when walking through the valleys of the shadow of death. It’s exactly the same for me today.
“Even though I walk through the dark valley of the shadow of Covid19 [or cancer, or heart disease, or … insert fear here!], I will fear no evil: God is with ME. His rod and His staff they comfort ME.”Shepherd Song (4th verse)
Today is Good Friday – the day that billions of Christian’s worldwide commemorate the day that Jesus of Nazareth was cruelly and brutally executed. Before He died He called Himself “the good shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep“.
I have made Jesus the “shepherd” of my life. He is my God. He is with me. His rod and His staff they comfort me.
If Covid19 has exposed your deepest fears then there is no better day to swap your fear for faith. Let me explain how …
You are created in the image of God. This means you are immortal. Your spirit will live long beyond the demise of your body. You WILL be resurrected. The only question is where?
God has declared “each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgement”. God will judge each and every one of us “guilty” or “not guilty”. The sentence will be Heaven or Hell. And just like any good judge, God’s judgement will not be based on comparison with other people but on what the law says. If the law says DO NOT STEAL, then saying “I didn’t steal as much as they did” is no defence! God’s laws are just, righteous and non-negotiable! They are for your benefit. And you’ve broken them – frequently, regularly and completely. If you’re honest, you know it. Sometimes we console ourselves by saying “I’m not as bad as them”. But if you’re like me you can’t even live up to your own standards, let alone God’s.
We are not worthy of Heaven. Hell awaits. And though jokingly many say hell doesn’t sound too bad, show them life in any of the squalid, lawless, loveless, brutal hell-holes around our planet and no-one would choose it as a destination for a weekend let alone an eternity!
God made us. He loves us. He desires for us to enjoy Heaven – eternal paradise. But our selfishness and law-breaking condemns us. What we need is a saviour! Thank God, He sent us one – Himself. He took on human form in Jesus of Nazareth and lived among us. He took the punishment YOU AND I deserve, and in His love and mercy gave us the gift of forgiveness, freedom and a heavenly home.
Jesus is not dead! He rose from His grave. He has power over life AND death. He is alive. It isn’t a case of “Jesus WAS the good shepherd”. Jesus IS the good shepherd. His rod and His staff comfort me today. In his own words, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live”.
He can become the shepherd of your life today too. Admit you need a saviour. Thank Jesus for taking the punishment for your guilt and shame. Accept His forgiveness. Ask Him to replace your fears with faith. Invite Him to become the good shepherd of your life.
Even if you walk through the dark valley of death, you need fear no evil. Jesus will be with you. His rod and His staff will comfort you. DO NOT FEAR – not Covid 19, not cancer, not heart disease, not even death itself.