Tuesday, March 31, 2020

CORONAVIRUS AND FEAR OF FINANCIAL INSECURITY

Cathy Youngblood – March 30, 2020

This week we consider how Adam Hamilton’s book “Unafraid: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times” addresses our fear of the real and potential financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic for us, our family and friends, and the world we live in.  
All around we are seeing pay reductions, positions suspended, and jobs lost.  More and more companies and plants announce shutdowns. Retirement funds plummet due to a panicked stock market.  People in all socio-economic levels are affected, but those who live paycheck to paycheck are truly desperate.  
New York reporter Amanda Hopuch writes, “The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) thinktank estimated a record-setting 3.4 million people filed unemployment claims last week based on an analysis of news reports. Weekly claims have not topped a million since records began in 1967.”  
The headlines read “US Economy Could Lose 5M Jobs in COVID-19 Fallout” (PYMTNS.com)
Our Federal Government signs an unprecedented $2.2 Trillion stimulus package to provide relief to Americans affected by the pandemic.
Discussion has begun as to whether this will go down in history as a “Coronavirus Recession” (already deemed worse than the recession of 2008) or a “Coronavirus Depression.”  
Wow!  I’m sorry to start this off with such a barrage of devastating news, but it only points to the reality of financial insecurity we are all living with right now, and along with that reality comes inevitable fear.  As I write this, I am afraid.  

IS THERE GUILT IN FEAR? 
Next week is Holy Week, when we remember Jesus’ suffering and death, which begins with his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he pled with the Father, through sweat like drops of blood, to remove this cup from him.  With his divine foreknowledge, he knew that his purpose on earth was to “become sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21), die a violent death and be separated from the Father, and he was afraid of that kind of suffering and loss! Who wouldn’t be?  
Let’s remember that Christ, though fully human, was also fully divine and “knew no sin.”  This comforts me greatly, because my perfect Savior knows what fear is like, and by his example he shows me that experiencing fear is not a sin; I need not feel guilty about it. Jesus had a normal human brain, and his amygdala was reacting to the knowledge that he was in danger and it wanted to self-preserve; so when my amygdala goes into high gear over the current financial crisis and the potential impact it could have on my life as I’ve known it, the fear I feel is understandable.  When God says 100+ times in Scripture, “do not fear,” it is not accompanied by a wagging, shaming finger; rather, it is a word of comfort and a reminder of God’s loving presence. What I hear is, “I know you’re afraid, but I want to remind you that I’ve got this.”
Jesus’ famous prayer in Gethsemane shows us, again by example, how to respond with courage and trust: “Yet not my will but Yours be done.”  Releasing our fear to God is the ultimate sign of trusting that God knows the end of the story.  

ADAM HAMILTON ON FINANCIAL FEAR 
Hamilton points out that there are two human factors that determine whether a family can live within their means to avoid financial distress: DESIRE and DISCIPLINE.  Desire can become so strong that it dictates our spending habits: “I want that new car so badly I won’t be happy without it.” Yet when we buy it, the novelty soon wears off and we desire a little bit more (hedonic adaptation).  Putting discipline before desire gives us healthy control over our own spending habits, and balances what we buy with what we can afford. Luke 12:15 cautions us: “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 
Though “living within our means” seems reasonable enough, Hamilton suggests “living beneath our means,” where we develop the attitude that “cheap is cool,” shopping at thrift stores is brilliant, little value is placed on “status” objects, and high value is placed on saving, investing and giving.  Life is really about relationships, experiences and service – not possessions. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21)
Healthy financial fear brings you from a place of over-spending to one of discipline.  Hamilton describes a financially stable lifestyle with five basic principles: (1) budget, (2) avoid debt where possible, (3) live beneath your means, (4) give away 10% or more, and (5) save at least 10%.  

HOW DOES DO I COPE WITH THE CURRENT FINANCIAL CRISIS?  
Adam Hamilton wrote this book in 2018, before the coronavirus scare, so he doesn’t specifically address the financial crisis occurring now. There is no doubt we are in a global crisis – desperate times – and no one will be untouched by financial fear as it progresses.  
But his five basic principles will help us as we adjust: 
  • Budget – Some of us say we budget, but we hold that term very loosely.  What would it look like to track our spending to the penny in spending categories, and let the numbers show us how we need to cut back and re-evaluate what is a “need” vs. a “want?”  

  • Debt – Most of us have mortgages.  Many of us have car payments. Some of us have student loans or medical debt.  A good financial adviser would suggest we work diligently toward eliminating all of these methodically.  Where additional debt is concerned, especially credit card debt, they would urge against it, and encourage doing anything we can to pay it down.  

  • Live beneath our means – This is counterintuitive, but it is truly a joyful thing to cut back on spending; it will do wonders to bring our priorities back in line and make us grateful for the blessings in our lives.  It will give us opportunity to see clearly what our hearts love more, whether money or God (and the Bible reminds us we cannot serve both).  

  • Give – Logic would tell us that in a time like this, we should hang on tight to what we have, that we don’t have enough to share.  But aren’t God’s ways always upside-down to ours? It is in giving that we receive because God honors selflessness and calls us to give and care for the weak, and in doing so, be blessed.  We are challenged to show generosity to test God and see if our needs are not met in greater measure than we can ask or imagine.  

  • Save – The seven years of plenty in Egypt followed by seven years of famine show the principle of saving.  Egypt supported itself and the surrounding nations during the famine. It may be difficult to save during this current crisis, but if we have been saving, we have some cushion to ride out the storm and help those in dire need. 
To Hamilton’s five principles, I will add one more, TRUST.  God’s promises are completely trustworthy: 
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. ... Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin. Are you not of more value than they? I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.”  Matt. 6:25-29
“And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
May it be said of us that we, like Paul, have learned to be content in whatever circumstances we are, how to get along with humble means, and also how to live in prosperity. May we learn the secret of being filled and going hungry, of having abundance or suffering need.  In all things, it is Christ who gives us strength. (adapted from Philippians 4:11-13) 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

33 Scripture References on Fear

SCRIPTURE OFFERING COMFORT IN THE FACE OF FEAR
Consider reading and meditating on one of these Scripture passages each day.  
1.  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10
2.  “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”  Psalm 56:3
3.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7
4.  “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”  John 14:27
5.  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  2 Timothy 1:7
6.  “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  1 John 4:18
7.  “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”  Psalm 94:19
8.  “But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”  Isaiah 43:1
9.  “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”  Proverbs 12:25
10. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
11. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9
12. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34
13. “Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time.  Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:6-7
14. “Tell everyone who is discouraged, ‘Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue…” Isaiah 35:4
15. “…do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”  Luke 12:22-26
16. “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”  Psalm 27:1
17. “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”  Psalm 55:22
18. “Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  Mark 6:50
19. “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6
20. “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.”  Isaiah 41:13-14
21. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1
22. “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?  The Lord is with me; he is my helper.”  Psalm 118:6-7
23. “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”  Proverbs 29:25
24. “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”  Mark 4:39-40
25. “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”  Psalm 34:7
26. “But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.”  1 Peter 3:14
27. “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.  He freed me from all my fears.”  Psalm 34:4
28. “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.”  Deuteronomy 3:22
29. “…Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.”  Revelation 1:17
30. “Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.'”  Mark 5:36
31. “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”  Romans 8:38
32. “For the Lord your God is living among you.  He is a mighty savior.  He will take delight in you with gladness.  With his love, he will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”  Zephaniah 3:17
33. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”…He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.  A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways…“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him…”  Psalm 91

Friday, March 20, 2020

CORONAVIRUS Y EL TEMOR - Cathy Youngblood

CORONAVIRUS Y EL TEMOR
Cathy Youngblood – 19 de marzo, 2020

Algunos de Uds. han estado estudiando el libro de Adam Hamilton llamado “Unafraid: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times” (“Sin temor: Viviendo con valor y esperanza en tiempos inseguros”) conmigo los martes por la noche en la iglesia, y se asombrarán igual que yo de la forma en que el contenido se apega a nuestra situación actual.   Con la llegada del coronavirus, no hay duda de que han decendido sobre nosotros tiempos muy inseguros, y cada día hay nuevos desafíos. ¿Cómo podemos vivir con valor y esperanza como personas de fe cuando todos sentimos algún nivel de preocupación y temor?  
Nuestras mentes empiezan a preguntar: Tengo tos – será COVID-19?  Si me ataca el virus, podré sobrevivir la enfermedad?  Qué pasaría si un ser querido se infecta?  Podría enfermarme del virus si voy al doctor o al hospital?  Qué le pasará a la economía ya que tantos negocios se están cerrando?  Podré cubrir todas mis obligaciones? Vivo solo y soy de alto riesgo, cómo me irá con el aislamiento social? Y siguen las preguntas…  Es fácil de entender cómo el temor y la angustia nos pueden paralizar.   
El autor Adam Hamilton nos enseña las siguientes cosas en su libro, en el capítulo 18 llamado “La ansiedad, la preocupación, y la enfermdad física,” lo cual aplicaremos al temor del coronavirus.  
  • El temor puede ser algo bueno – no es siempre malo.  Dios diseñó nuestros cerebros para que reaccionaríamos a las situaciones de peligro; la amígdala causa que sintamos temor cuando estamos en peligro como forma de auto-preservación.  

  • El temor se vuelve problema cuando permitimos que nos paralice.  
    • “La ansiedad es un hilo de temor que pasa por la mente.  Si lo alimentamos, empieza a cortar un canal mas profundo por donde pasan todos nuestros pensamientos.”  – Arthur Somers Roche 
    • “La preocupación es imaginar un futuro negativo que probablemente nunca sucederá.” – Adam Hamilton

  • El acrónimo F-E-A-R (“temor”) nos ayuda para saber como reaccionar al temor: 
    • F – FE – la forma de enfrentar nuestros temores
    • E – EXAMINE los hechos, no asuma lo peor
    • A – ATAQUE con acción sus ansiedades 
    • R – RECONOZCA que Dios es mas grande y entréguele sus temores
Veamos cómo podemos aplicar el acrónimo F-E-A-R a la situación del coronavirus.  
F – FE – LA FORMA DE ENFRENTAR NUESTROS TEMORES 
Las escrituras nos recuerdan que el sufrimiento y la enfermedad son partes esperadas de nuestro mundo quebrantado: “ Les digo todo esto para que encuentren paz en su unión conmigo. En el mundo, ustedes habrán de sufrir; pero tengan valor: yo he vencido al mundo. (Juan 16:33) Cristo nos asegura que podemos y debemos responder a las dificultades con esperanza, pues El ha redimido al mundo. Estamos inmunes al coronavirus?  No.  Pero aún en el peor de los casos, Dios es vencedor, y como Sus hijos nosotros participamos en su victoria, ya sea en la tierra o en el cielo.  No hay pandemia que pueda cambia esto.  Dios nos lo recuerda para que tengamos paz al enfrentar el temor.    
Las palabras “no temas” aparecen mas de 100 veces en la Biblia, y amenudo siguen estas palabras de igual imporancia, “pues estoy contigo.” Las promesas de Dios – el estar siempre con nosotros hasta el fin del mundo, que nunca nos dejará ni nos abandonará, que no existe lugar donde podremos alejarnos ni escondernos de El, y que nadie nos puede arrebatar de Sus manos – son cimiento seguro para nuestra fe en tiempos inestables.  
Las escrituras están llenas de evidencia del cuidado de Dios hacia nosotros!  El Salmo 121 es un recordatorio de mucho consuelo:  
Al contemplar las montañas me pregunto: «¿De dónde vendrá mi ayuda?»
Mi ayuda vendrá del Señor, creador del cielo y de la tierra.
¡Nunca permitirá que resbales! ¡Nunca se dormirá el que te cuida!
No, él nunca duerme; nunca duerme el que cuida de Israel.
El Señor es quien te cuida; el Señor es quien te protege, quien está junto a ti para ayudarte.

El sol no te hará daño de día, ni la luna de noche.
El Señor te protege de todo peligro; él protege tu vida.
El Señor te protege en todos tus caminos, ahora y siempre.

Podemos acercarnos a Dios durante estos tiempos tan inciertos, podemos mostrar que nuestra fe en El es real – no es solo palabras.  La paz de Dios en nuestros corazones sobrepasa todo entendimiento mientros oramos durante esta pandemia, dándole gracias a Dios en todo, y cantando nuestras alabanzas a Dios quien nos ama y nos cuida.  Los que alaban a Dios y oran en sus momentos de temor sienten desvanecer sus temores.  

E – EXAMINE LOS HECHOS, NO ASUMA LO PEOR
Hamilton nos recuerda que “los hechos son nuestros amigos.”  Mucho de nuestro temor del coronavirus es basado sobre lo que asumimos, sin averiguar antes los hechos. Los reportes de la television, el pánico público y el internet alimentan nuestra imaginación.  El coronavirus es un problema mundial muy serio, pero cual es la probabilidad que le va a dar a usted el COVID-19?   
Según las estadísticas (obtenidas en el internet), el día de hoy hay 11,410 casos de coronavirus en los EEUU, y de estos 171 han muerto, 108 se han recuperado, y 11,131 no están resueltos.  Tomando en cuenta que los números cambian constantemente, esto significa que estamos a un nivel de mortandad de aproximadamente 1.5%, comparado al 0.1% de muertes causadas por la gripe invernal.  El coronavirus infecta a los demás el doble de rápido que la gripe. La mortandad causada por COVID-19 aumenta entre las personas mayores o los que tienen condiciones previas de salud.  En los EEUU el 27% de los infectados mayores de 85 años de edad han muerto.  
La pandemia del coronavirus debe tomarse muy en serio – es un reto a la vida humana.  Pero esto no significa que si por casualidad se infectara se va a morir.  Viendo el “vaso medio lleno,” si es mayor de 85 años de edad, tendría un 73% de chance de sobrevivencia, y si es un adulto joven, el porcentaje sube a 98.5%.  

A – ATAQUE CON ACCIÓN SUS ANSIEDADES  
Cuando nos vemos cara a cara con situaciones que producen temor, es posible enfocar nuestra atención en crear un plan de acción y así afectar cambios donde nos es posible, enfocando nuestros pensamientos y aumentando nuestro sentido de propósito.  
A nivel físico, podemos estar al tanto de la proliferación del coronavirus.  Podemos enterarnos de las recomendaciones del Centro del Control de la Enfermedad (CDC), y obedecerlas.  Podemos practicar el distanciamiento social, o el aislamiento si estamos en la categoría de alto riesgo.  Nos podemos lavar las manos y evitar tocarnos la cara.  Podemos comprar medicamentos de venta libre para síntomas, si llegaran a manifestarse.  Podemos hacer una lista de las cosas que siempre hemos querido hacer en la casa, o las cosas que nos traen gozo pero que raras veces temenos tiempo de hacerlas.  Podemos hacer un plan de ejercicio y de tomar aire puro.  
A nivel espiritual, Hamilton recomienda, “Podemos enfocar nuestra imaginación en la presencia de Dios a traves de la oración, de cantar himnos, compartir nuestros sentimientos con amigos cercanos,… y confiar en que sentiremos que nos sostienen el amor y la misericordia de Dios.” (p.39)  Gracias a la tecnología (una bendición) podemos reunirnos virtualmente para alabar a Dios.  Podemos planear video-pláticas en grupos pequeños y seguir creciendo en nuestra fe.  Podemos enfocar nuestras energias en las necesidades de los demás, los que necesitan asistencia, y así seguir viviendo el reino de Dios en la tierra, aún durante una pandemia.  

R – RECONOZCA QUE DIOS ES MAS GRANDE, Y ENTREGUELE SUS TEMORES  
Esto es algo simple, pero nada fácil.  Es producto del trabajo genuino de las primeras tres fases del acrónico, las partes F, E y A.  El entregarle a Dios nuestros temores es lo que nos proporciona verdadera paz.  Es conocer y confiar en las Manos que nos sostienen.  Gracias a Dios!  

“Unafraid” (“Sin temor”), por Adam Hamilton, es un libro lleno de riquezas espirituales, y es fácil de leer.  El autor dedica cada capítulo a diferente tema: al temor del crimen, del terrorismo, del fracaso, de decepcionar a otros, de la insignificancia, de la soledad, de envejecer y de morir, entre otros.  Haga click aqui para comprarlo en el internet.  

CORONAVIRUS AND FEAR - Cathy Youngblood

CORONAVIRUS AND FEAR 
Cathy Youngblood – March 20, 2020


Some of you have been studying Adam Hamilton’s book “Unafraid: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times” with me on Tuesday evenings at the church and will share my awe at how the content could not have been better timed.  With the onset of the coronavirus, uncertain times have indeed descended on us, and we are faced daily with new challenges of how to live with courage and hope as people of faith, when we are all experiencing some level of worry and fear. 
Our minds start to question: Is my cough a symptom of COVID-19?  If I test positive, will I survive the illness? Will someone I love get it? Will I contract the virus if I visit the doctor or hospital?  What will happen to the economy as we all slam the breaks on life’s daily activities? Will I be able to pay my bills? I am in a high-risk category and I live alone; how will I manage in social isolation?  And the list goes on and on. It is easy for the uncertainty to spiral us downward into paralyzing anxiety and worry.  
Here are some points Hamilton makes throughout the book, some of which come from Chapter 18, “Anxiety, Worry, and Physical Illness,” along with some application to the current coronavirus scare.  
  • Fear is not always a bad thing. God designed our brains to react to impending danger; the amygdala causes us to fear when we are in danger as an aid in self-preservation.  


  • Fear becomes a problem when we allow it to paralyze us.
    • “Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.” – Arthur Somers Roche 
    • “Worry is imagining a negative future that may never (and likely will never) happen.” – Adam Hamilton


  • The acronym F-E-A-R is helpful in reacting well to feelings of fear: 
    • F – face your fears with faith
    • E – examine your assumptions in light of the facts
    • A – attack your anxieties with action 
    • R – release your fears to God 
Let’s look at how we might apply the F-E-A-R acronym to the coronavirus situation.    

F – FACE YOUR FEARS WITH FAITH
The Scriptures remind us that we should expect suffering and illness as part of our broken world: “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) Christ assures us that we can and should respond to trouble with hope because of His redemptive work.  Does that mean we are immune to coronavirus? No. But regardless of the scenario, God has overcome, and as God’s children we participate in that victory, whether here or in eternity.  No pandemic can change that. He has reminded us of this so that we may have peace in the face of fear.  
The words “do not fear” appear more than 100 times in the Bible, and they are often followed with words of equal importance, “for I am with you.” God’s promises – to be with us always, even to the end of time, that He will never leave us or forsake us, that there is no where we can go to get away from Him, and no one can snatch us from God’s hand – are the strongest foundation for our faith in uncertain times.  
The Scriptures are full of evidence of God’s care for us!  Psalm 121 is a comforting reminder: 
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore. 

We can choose to draw closer to God during these uncertain times; we can show that our faith in God is more than words.  God’s peace in our hearts can surpass understanding, as we pray through this pandemic, giving thanks in all things, and singing our praise to God who lovingly cares for us.  Those who worship and pray amidst their fear, feel their anxiety fade away.  


E – EXAMINE YOUR ASSUMPTIONS IN LIGHT OF THE FACTS
Hamilton reminds us that facts are our friends.  So much of our fear of coronavirus is based on false assumptions, which are exacerbated by media reports and projections, mass panic, and the internet (which can be both a gift and a curse).  Coronavirus is a real health concern, but what are the chances you will contrive COVID-19? 
According to the coronavirus statistics as I write this (yes, obtained on the internet!), of the 11,410 cases of people infected in the US, 171 have died, 108 recovered, and 11,131 are yet unresolved. Realizing the numbers are in a constant state of flux, it means that we are currently at a 1.5% mortality rate, compared to the 0.1% of deaths caused by seasonal flu. Coronavirus infects others twice as fast as the seasonal flu. The COVID-19 mortality rate increases among the elderly, or those with prior health conditions.  In the US, 27% of infected people over the age of 85 have died.  
The coronavirus pandemic should be taken very seriously – it is a real threat to human life.  It does not mean, however, that if you contrived the virus you would face certain death. Looking at the glass half full, if you are 85 or older, you would have a 73% chance of survival, and if you are a young adult, your survival rate rises to 98.5%.  


A – ATTACK YOUR ANXIETY WITH ACTION 
When we are faced with situations that produce fear in us, we can choose to focus our attention on creating a plan of action to affect change where change is possible, focusing our thoughts and increasing our sense of purpose.  
At a physical level, we can keep abreast of the spread of the coronavirus.  We can be aware of and obey the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control.  We can practice social distancing, or isolation if we are in the higher risk category.  We can wash our hands and avoid touching our faces. We can be sure we have over-the-counter remedies for symptoms, should they manifest.  We can make a list of things we’ve always wanted to accomplish around the house, or things we enjoy doing but rarely have the time to, otherwise.  We can be purposeful about exercise and getting fresh air.  
At a spiritual level, Hamilton suggests, “we can focus our imagination on the presence of God through prayer, singing hymns, sharing our struggles with close friends,… and trust that we will sense God’s love and mercy holding us near.” (p.39) Thanks to the blessing of technology, we can participate in virtual gatherings for worship.  We can plan video chats with small groups and purpose to continue growing spiritually. We can turn our concern to the needs of others who need assistance, and so continue to live out the kingdom of God on earth, even during a pandemic.  


R – RELEASE YOUR FEARS TO GOD
This is simple, though not easy.  It comes as a byproduct of working through the F-E-A parts of the acronym.  Release is surrender that brings true peace. It is knowing and trusting the Hands that surround us. Thanks be to God.  


“Unafraid”, by Adam Hamilton, is rich yet easy read addressing a long list of fears, with chapters dedicated to the fear of crime, terrorism, failure, disappointing others, insignificance, loneliness, aging and dying, to name a few.  

Click here to purchase the book online.  There are Kindle, Audio book (free), and hardback versions available!
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CORONAVIRUS AND FEAR OF FINANCIAL INSECURITY

Cathy Youngblood – March 30, 2020 This week we consider how Adam Hamilton’s book “Unafraid: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Ti...