People are feeling afraid.
Afraid of getting sick.
Afraid of dying.
Afraid of losing loved ones.
Afraid of being left alone.
Afraid of losing their jobs.
Afraid of losing their minds.
Afraid of not being able to pay the rent.
Afraid of not having enough.
Afraid of the unknown.
People are feeling really, really afraid.
And fear is a bit like a virus. It attaches itself to living cells and spreads relentlessly from one host to the next, causing immeasurable harm as it does so. Fear is dangerously infectious – and the realisation of that fact must surely lead us to search for a cure.
But is there a cure for fear?
There are certainly all sorts of things that might help us to feel less afraid. Things like:
- Facts: understanding what it is we’re dealing with.
- Advice: understanding what we need to do by way of a response.
- Provision: of adequate protective equipment and medical supplies.
- Reassurance: being told by people we trust that there will be enough food and other essentials to go round; being told that, in the end, this too shall pass.
Each of those things is important – each of them is actually really, really helpful. But I’m not convinced that, on their own, they are enough. I can’t help feeling that something more is required. There’s a line in the Old Book that, for me, holds the key to it all. It says simply this:
“Perfect love casts out all fear.”
Perfect love: the cure for fear.
Before anyone jumps to suggest it, I haven’t stumbled into hopeless idealism. I haven’t lost sight of simple practical realities. Because the fact is that love – real love – is intensely, profoundly practical. It is the deepest of all human needs.
What we need right now is a whole lot more love:
Love expressed in a phonecall to a friend or family member.
Love expressed in a knock on an elderly neighbour’s door.
Love expressed in doing their shopping.
Love expressed in buying only those things we really need, making sure that there is enough for everyone.
Love expressed in the kindness shown to strangers.
Love expressed in sharing what we have with those who have less.
Love expressed in time spent listening to the questions and concerns of our children.
Love expressed in gratitude shown for all that we have been blessed with.
Love expressed in putting others before ourselves.
Love expressed in words.
Love expressed in deeds.
A little less Me. A little more We.
Here’s some more of that ancient wisdom – drawn from a passage that has likely been read at a thousand weddings:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…
“…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
In the face of all our fears, these three remain: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.
(Picture by the extraordinary Charlie Mackesy. Used with permission.)