My TAFES small group has been meeting on Zoom, and this evening we had a guest speaker, Pentecostal Bishop Dr Professor Glorious Shoo who spoke on being a Christian in challenging times. He took as his text 2 Tim 1:7, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a Spirit of power, love and a sound mind.”
He encouraged us not to give in to fear and its destructive forces. In times like these with a virus around, it’s good to maintain your immunity, which is influenced by your spirit. There was a discussion after his talk about social media and how to protect yourself from dwelling on negative news.
Instead, we rely on the Spirit of God, trusting God’s power to protect us. Instead of battening down hatches and looking to our own interests, we are freed to look after others. As we love them, God looks after us. The Spirit is not one that disdains medical knowledge or expertise: a sound mind means being aware of the situation and responding appropriately.
This explanation was peppered by examples and stories from the Bible. Like Esther, we must not be fearful and shrink back, for God can find other people to do His will, but it is better for us to do it. Like Shadrack, Meshach and Abedengo, we will find that God is with us in the fire. And, most vividly, the same flood that so terrified the people in Noah’s time and caused them to perish was the same one that lifted Noah up because He had followed God’s instructions. I was encouraged by these stories, feeling that I am not alone but am one of many of God’s people in history seeking to be faithful.
In the discussion I asked people what they thought about the idea that fear can have redemptive qualities, if it motivates people to take precautions. They were intrigued by this new idea but ultimately rejected it, because fear causes you to think negatively. That led me to asking about the role of hope, as in a recent NEXUS article Anne Cook argued that hope is a major factor in motivating people in Tanzania to take precautions at the moment. They agreed with the mechanism, though they clarified that they prefer the language of faith to hope. Also, they tend to talk about avoiding fear, and hope is a by-product of that rather than the thing they are pursuing.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.