Who We Believe In

It’s been an interesting case study in social dynamics to watch how our country has reacted to the COVID-19 crisis. There’s a segment that has been exceedingly concerned from the beginning, always believing the worst possible projections, and ready to shut down everything to avoid those apocalyptic scenarios. On the other side, there are those who haven’t taken the whole pandemic seriously at all, convinced that it’s all an over-hyped over-reaction.

I tend to fluctuate some from one side to the other several times a day. Sometimes I think it’s overblown and everyone will figure it out soon enough, and other times I think it’s about to get very bad for all of us. I get most of my “news” from social media, which I have to constantly remind myself is NOT real life, and doesn’t reflect where most Americans live. I also know that social media tends to blow everything up, and feeds off of high drama and bad news, so I’ve tried to filter what I read with that in mind.

But the reality is, we all have access to the same facts, the same data, the same daily reports, and yet we come down on completely different sides as to how bad we believe the crisis is, or is going to be. And it’s pretty predictable how most people will respond by which camp they were in when it all started. People usually bring their presuppositions and biases with them when they read the “facts,” and many choose to live in their own echo chamber, listening only to those who already agree with them.

I would submit to you that the issue is really one of faith, for all of us. Not necessarily biblical faith, but faith nonetheless. As in, who we “place our faith” in, who we believe, the sources we find credible, the news channels we choose to watch, the websites or social media accounts we follow. Most people, even those who would say they have no faith at all, practice faith daily on what they choose to believe on a hundred different topics. And the COVID-19 crisis is a classic example of that very thing.

The reality is most of us live by faith far more than we ever realize. Let me give you a few examples. For instance, when we fly commercially, we get in an airplane, with no clue how the aerodynamics work to allow a huge, heavy metal tube to get off the ground and move across the sky safely at several hundred miles an hour. And we trust a pilot to fly that big tube, though we don’t know him, and have no idea about his credentials and training to fly. That’s faith.

Or, how about this one? We are referred to a doctor that we have never met, who does tests on us we don’t understand, gives us a diagnosis we have never heard of, and writes us a prescription we can’t read. We take it to a pharmacist that we can’t see, who gives us a chemical compound that we can’t even pronounce, and we go home and obediently follow the instructions without hesitation. Again, that’s faith.

I was thinking about this recently when I was making a turn across a busy intersection. My side had a green arrow, allowing me to turn, and I assumed the lane coming toward me had the same. As we came to the intersection at a pretty good speed, both of us in the respective turning lanes were basically heading right at each other, playing chicken. Except we both trusted that the other would be turning instead of going straight. If one of us decided not to turn, a nasty head-on collision was all but guaranteed. And even though I knew nothing about the driver coming at me–I didn’t know if he was a good driver, was awake, was paying attention, was not impaired–I assumed he was trustworthy enough that I placed my faith in him and turned right in front of him. (And he did the same in front of me.)

This kind of thing happens thousands of times a day, where we place our faith in something or someone else, without really knowing whether they had ever earned that kind of faith. We trust people who may or may not be trustworthy, because it’s what we do, out of habit. And we never even give it a second thought.

Since we walk by faith so regularly, you would think in times where faith is most needed and most required–as in, when we face a potentially life-threatening pandemic–that we would have no problem placing our faith in a God who loves us and has consistently proven Himself faithful. Yet, people fret and worry and try to take things into their own hands, instead of trusting the pilot who has everything under control.

So, as we face another day of confusing news reports and disturbing predictions, not knowing who to believe, be careful who you listen to, and who you believe in. I will offer you these words, from the apostle Paul, from Philippians 4:6-7:  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication  with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And  the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We are going to get through these crazy times, and I hope we come out with stronger than ever faith in our faithful God. I miss you all, and I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me.  Be safe, be wise, be careful, and stand firm!

–Pastor Ken