WHEN FAITH OVERCOMES FEAR:Personal Experiences with Covid-19
By Pat Sabiston, Connecting NowFaith
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me: Psalm 23:4
Fear is normal, even for the Believer. Yet, in mid-July, when our state reported Florida had one of the highest numbers of Covid-19 cases in the nation, anxiety seemed to be a constant within our communities. Christians are not immune to this unseen and deadly enemy, so we wanted to learn how those who have been infected responded to this potentially fatal health challenge.
If you don’t have to be out … don’t be!
It was difficult interviewing Theodore Floyd, known as “Teddy” to many, because his breathing was extremely difficult. However, he was insistent on sharing his experience from his hospital bed, since he felt the timely message was important.
“I’ll admit, I was really scared because I’ve never had to face anything like this. It snuck up on me, and I didn’t understand it,” said Teddy. “My only symptoms were a dry mouth, shortness of breath, and I was so tired, I felt drained.” Then, diarrhea and body aches followed.
As a Deputy for the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, Teddy always wore a mask.
“But even when you wear a mask, you sometimes have to lower it to talk with people,” he said, which may be how he contracted the virus. “After I realized I wasn’t feeling right, I told my wife I was going to get tested. When the results were positive, my wife got really upset and cried nonstop. But then, my mother, who is a pastor, began to pray, and things turned around almost immediately.”
Now that Teddy has recuperated and returned back to work, he has some practical advice to share, followed by some spiritual guidance.
“From now on, I’m going to wear a mask and gloves,” he said. “Do what the health officials say about washing your hands and social distancing, but if you don’t have to be out, don’t be, because we don’t know where this thing is coming from.
“And, I want to tell everyone – If you are ever going to become a Believer in Jesus Christ, now is the time! Then, every day when you wake up, give God praise! And, keep yourself anointed in season and out.”
Saved by the grace!
Maria Orozco, a local business owner, always felt Christians had a special shield around them to keep bad things from happening. She admits how wrong that theology was, especially following a trip she made to Puerto Rico.
“I’m not sure if I contracted the virus on my trip, at the airport, a store, or doctor’s office,” she explained. “I began feeling tired, and then came down with hot flashes and fever, followed by stomach flu-like symptoms, and a pain in my bones that was beyond description.”
Maria had to text her responses for this interview because she was too sick, with coughing spasms, to talk. The illness not only affected her health, but it significantly impacted her business – Elegant Events and Party Rentals.
“We closed the business in March and reopened in June after the tests came back negative. Some of the staff went from full-time to part-time,” she said. “Immediately, we implemented strict cleaning procedures. Today, we continue to follow social distancing and other governmental guidelines as well; plus, do consultations by phone or by appointment.”
Maria believes the only way we can defeat the virus is to stand together in prayer as a community, do our best to keep others safe, and prevent the spreading of the virus by staying at home. She noted, “Money always comes and goes, but we can’t recuperate our life or our families.”
Trust the process and redirect your energy to God
Susan Aguirre’s COVID experience tested her faith to the core.
“I can honestly say we were afraid. When the virus invaded our house, it infected four of the children at once. The symptoms were varied from a terrible sinus headache and runny nose to severe fatigue and lethargy. Another child had chest and lung pain,” she said.
“As a mother, I was concerned, not knowing what to expect next, what was coming, and waiting for impending doom. I felt as if we were facing a storm, blindfolded, and on our own.”
Susan explained that she experienced emotional and psychological torment, where she obsessed over her children. Regularly washing their hands and reminding them not to cough on one another. And yet it was this very cautious alertness that transferred a sense of worry to her youngest child.
“My three-year-old son began having night terrors because he was suffering from the anxiety he’d picked up from others in the house,” Susan admitted. “I was an emotional mess, giving in to fear, but I changed my attitude. I assured the kids that we were going to do this together and get through it.”
Susan could feel the outpouring of support and prayers covering her family. COVID-19 indeed stretched her faith in God and gave her a new outlook on life. She confirmed the importance of not being consumed by fear. “We need to remove the fear factor from this pandemic. Trust the process and redirect our energy to God.”
In all three of these situations, the truth of God’s faithfulness shines through. In addition, there were several lessons to be learned:
Don’t panic. Instead, cry out to God and ask others for specific prayers.
Don’t let fear take your breath away.
Reach out to others who are sick with encouragement and tangible help, like food, running errands, or cutting their grass.
When pressed from all directions, don’t lose hope.
So, yes, fear is normal even for Believers, but it evaporates when we trust God, who
will never leave us nor forsake us.