I’m a regular, periodic writer for Connecticut’s Forum on Faith column, and this is my article that came out in three newspapers today. You can read it online in the Connecticut Post here, the Stamford Advocate here, and the Danbury News-Times here. You can also read it below:
Coronavirus, fear, and God
While our hearts cry out for all those who have been so unnecessarily brought down by the coronavirus, I want to acknowledge here that I do not believe that this whole thing is God’s will. That is why it is so devastating to stand by and observe it.
Psalm 91, which is so reassuring in general, has this one disturbing verse embedded in it, “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.” Good news for us it seems, but why not for everyone?
God tells Job regarding a “proud wave,” “thus far… and no farther.” Jesus’ only civil words to Satan were, “Get thee hence.” It seems to me that this coronavirus is unGodlike hubris, which God is perfectly capable of stopping in its tracks.
Lets look at some of the more comforting verses in that 91st Psalm. Mentally and prayerfully, we can “dwell in the secret place of the most High,” and “under the shadow of the Almighty,” where nothing scary can reach us. God can be our “refuge and fortress,” strong and trustworthy, “our very present help in trouble.”
That Psalm also says that God will deliver us from the “snare” and from the “pestilence.” I find it a relief to hear that as a promise that we will not be trapped by this disease.
It goes on to say we shall be protected under God’s “wings” and nestled in gentle feathers. I love that image of being tucked up under God’s wing, all cozy and safe, comfortable and cared for in those soft, downy feathers.
The psalm implies that there is no fear or threat there. There, we have immunity not only to disease, but to anything unlike good. There, not only are we healed, we’re guarded and unassailable.
The foundation of any pandemic is fear. In Christian Science we learn that fear is also a major cause of disease. Fear is rarely good for us, and we recommend removing fear, instead of inciting it.
So it is not surprising that in Psalm 91 to read that, “we shall not be afraid by the terror by night… nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday,” while it explains God as our shield and defense. The Bible also declares, “Perfect Love casts out fear,” and that, “God is Love.”
God, as infinite Love, surrounds and enfolds each one of us; we cannot get outside of it; there is nowhere else to go. We literally live, move, breathe and have our being in God, the atmosphere of divine Love. Therefore, Christian Scientists reason that there can be no contagion of anything but good in God’s all-powerful presence, and we seek to establish ourselves there.
Returning to Psalm 91 we read, “Because you have made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall be no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”
Further in that psalm, we are told those angels will protect us, and not even let us stub our toes. We are assured we’ll be invincible against frightening things and even “trample” them under our feet, subduing them with our God given dominion. We are reminded that we can call upon God in our trouble.
So I don’t know why we are in this mess, but I believe there is a way out of it. I think we need to calm our thought, and turn to God, full of love and trust, expecting to receive defense, preservation, and tender care. I believe God is large and in charge, and that disease is not.
When knowing this, we’ll have the poise needed to clearly hear those angels directing us out of harm’s way. We’ll have the unruffled obedience to respond correctly. We’ll have the equanimity to know what we need to do or not do.
Meanwhile, we can abide under God’s wing, feeling safely hidden in the refuge of those wonderfully fluffy feathers, convinced that there is no reason to fear, where infinite, all-powerful Love, God, is present.
by Polly Castor, a Christian Science Practitioner, and member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Ridgefield, CT. She can be reached at PollyCastor@gmail.com
[…] As I wrote in this newspaper article about the Coronavirus and fear at the early stages of this situ…, Christian Scientists face down disease as a foe to be trounced. We do not cower in fear of it, knowing that fear is a large part of the problem. So given that, some of you have wondered why we are staying home and moving our services online. I explain that there is a difference between fear and wisdom, and it is important to be wise. We are also going the extra mile with others that need this of us, following the golden rule, and expressing love by protecting those that feel susceptible. […]