Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say. This is one of those times. Those times that “try men’s souls," to quote Thomas Paine. He was encouraging a brand-new United States of America to fight on for freedom and push through the weariness to reach the end goal — a goal all the more precious because it was hard-won. People back then weren’t very different than we are today. We too, need encouragement to press on. To win freedom not from a tyrant, but from a germ.
Our enemy is tiny — microscopic even — but more powerful than George III ever was. This enemy has brought the world to its knees. Not just two countries, fighting it out over who would rule who. This enemy, too, wears a crown — a corona — and this enemy, too, will be overcome.
I’ve been thinking a lot about fear. I’m not afraid, per se, but I am apprehensive. And while I optimistically don’t think anyone I know will die, it still is a concern. I don’t want to die either, for that matter. Though death itself doesn’t frighten me, I’m not excited to go through the process. I am excited, though, for what lies beyond when the time comes. I’m just kinda hoping that time is pretty far off.
I tried to remember the times that I have been afraid in my life. There aren’t many. A couple small moments in my childhood came to mind. And then I remembered West Berlin, circa 1988. I had gone to the American military base after school, as I usually did. I had to walk through it in order to get to the German subway stop, the U Bahn station called Oskar-Helene-Heim.
As I approached the exit gate that was just across the street from the U Bahn station, I heard a lot of noise coming from the road but, due to the fence around the base, I couldn’t see what was making all the racket. I exited through the gate and the light was red, so I stopped, along with a few other people. The noise was getting louder. I looked down the busy road and finally saw what was making the entire street come to a stop.
It was a battalion of tanks, heading off for maneuvers or something, I didn’t know, all I knew was that in that moment I was the most terrified I have ever been in my life.
It was a combination of things that made the experience so frightening. The sheer volume of noise as tank after tank rattled past was enough to make a person crazy, but added to that was the size of the machines and the knowledge that these things were made to kill.
I couldn’t get away from them. I was petrified, unable to move. I didn’t even think to turn back, to re-enter the base. I just stood there, my heart thudding, tears springing up in my eyes. About a dozen tanks rolled by, slowly and laboriously. Stop lights turned from red to green and back again, but still they came, blocking traffic.
I felt like I was in the war. The Oskar-Helene-Heim station existed during World War II. It had seen tanks rolling past, bringing death. I wasn’t afraid of them opening fire upon me, but I was horrified by the potential.
But then, in the middle of my almost paralyzing fear, it dawned on me: these tanks were American. They would have brought freedom when they rolled through Berlin.
My fright didn’t vanish — the noise and the sheer power of the machines going past me was too great to alleviate that — but it was a fear tinged with thankfulness and relief.
Tyrants come and go. And we fight on. Disease is different than war, yes, but fear is basically the same whatever it is that spurs it, I think. When we are afraid, we long for peace, whatever the cause of our distress. We want things to be as they were, before the battle began.
Jesus, when encouraging his disciples in their confusion and grief, said, “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 16:33 (NIV). Peace of mind is a precious thing. If it could be sold, it would be flying off the shelves these days, along with toilet paper and pasta. If we stockpiled peace, the world would be a better place.
The truth of God’s Word — of Jesus’ actual words when he was with us on earth — is that the world can have peace through faith in Him. Yes, there is trouble in the world. The worst trouble many of us have ever seen. But peace is found in the midst of our troubled world, because Jesus is greater than the world. He has already overcome the world and anything it can throw at us. We can take heart because we are not alone. Thanks be to God!
If anyone has a prayer request and would like people to pray for them, you can contact me at my Love INC email. People are meeting virtually daily to pray together in this time. We would love to hear from you. firstname.lastname@example.org