NEWS FROM THE CENTER FRIDAY DIGEST February 25, 2022 - The COVID Symptom No One Talks About: Fear
When I received my positive COVID test I was prepared to deal with the body aches, fever, lung congestion, and even the fatigue. I was not prepared for the one symptom no one talks about: fear.
I am old, overweight, have COPD, heart stints, and artificial joints. Ever since March 2020, I have been consistently told by my medical professionals, “If you get COVID, you will die.” My doctors instilled in me a fear that the only place I would go is to the funeral home if I visited my grandchildren, went to the store, worshipped in my church, or flew in an airplane. The media and the government added to the fear as I heard daily case numbers, hospital shortages, death rates, shelter in place orders, and mask mandates. I was led to believe that if I ventured outside without a mask I would either die or cause others to. I lived in fear.
Being locked out of my church, I faced a spiritual crisis. On the one hand, I do not fear death, for Jesus died and rose again to give me the free gift of eternal life, which I look forward to with great expectation. On the other hand, I am not eager to place my family in jeopardy through the trials of illness and pain of death.
I missed the fellowship of believers to share my burdens and concerns. Virtual was helpful for the mind, but did little for the heart that longed for the human touch.
The dark fabric of fear tore a little when I first masked up and ventured out to visit family. Each successful trip led to another. Life seemed to be brighter as my church opened up, store shelves were filled, and I could gather with family and friends around the dinner table. The fear retreated.
Darkness returned with the word that there was a vaccine! The world went crazy looking to the vaccine as a way out of the fear, but it just created more as long lines, short supplies, and uncertainty about its effect griped the media.
As a member of the second class to receive the shots, I was relieved but guilty. Why should I be the recipient of this magic shot when my children couldn’t? I lived in fear that I would bury my children or grandchildren. The fear returned.
The world shifted and now everyone could receive the shots that would save lives, fear should have diminished, but it didn’t. Fear danced on the media reports of vaccinated people getting COVID. Fear abounded in fights over mandates. Fear escalated as thousands of workers were fired for no reason other than not being vaccinated. Fear caused panic, frustration, and anxiety over not being able to provide for the family’s basic needs. Fear drove people to anger, despair, and depression.
There were a few voices that stood out, telling us that God is in control, we have nothing to fear, we will have food and clothing, our families will be fine, and this is only temporary. These voices were drowned out by the government and the media shouting their messages of fear.
Then came the day that I tested positive for COVID.
The fear in my heart knowing I had COVID was greater than when the doctor told me I had cancer. When I was told I had cancer, the next sentences were all about treatment plans, survival rates, and having a positive outlook.
The COVID diagnosis hit hard. I was numb. There were no words of treatment plans or survival rates, only the sentence that I should stay home and wait for the inevitable.
The fear closed around me.
I was afraid to tell family and friends, for I didn’t want to add to their fear.
Fear dominated . . . for a season.
Then one night I was tired of the fear and tried to hit it head on by listing what it was I feared. I came up with death, suffering, pain, and the impact my illness would have on my wife and family.
Then I was able to treat the fear. All I had to do was go back to the words of comfort found in the Scriptures. It seemed too simple. I prayed and opened my Bible.
God laid His Word on my heart, with verses such as: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7). “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow” (Matt. 6:34). “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you’” (Is. 41:13). “He said, ‘Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them’” (2 Kings 6:16).
It worked as fear dissolved in the light of God’s Word.
Now that I had COVID I can say firsthand that:
1. I didn't die.
2. The symptoms were no worse than when I had a bad cold or flu.
3. My breathing was labored but manageable.
4. If I never took the COVID test, I would never have had the fear. I would have isolated myself like I always do with a cold. I would have rested, taken fluids, and meds, but there would be no fear.
I succumbed to the fear, which I should not have and will not again.
Fear is real. Fear is dangerous. And fear disappears when confronted with God’s Words of hope, promise, joy, and love.
Richard Cohrs is a Commissioned Minister, Emeritus, having served as a Principal/Educator in Lutheran schools and as a Manager for Lutheran Hour Ministries. He now serves as Brand Ambassador for the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty.
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