Several polls over the past few months reveal how the pandemic is being driven by fear, not the science. People’s perception of how serious COVID is goes far beyond actual reality.
This past February, Frontiers in Psychology conducted two surveys of people in France to compare their perception of how bad COVID was with actual reality.
According to their polling, the French believe that one in six people who catch COVID will die from the virus. If this is what you believe, a person would be living in absolute terror of catching the disease.
But the reality is much different.
In fact, only one in 400 died in France after catching the virus, with the vast majority over the age of 70. It is the elderly and those with underlying health conditions (often the same people) who are most vulnerable to the virus and need protection.
Nevertheless, based on their flawed perception, the French believe over one million have died of COVID in their country instead of the actual death total of 107,000, in a country with a population of over 65 million people
As believers, we need to respect the virus, but we shouldn’t be terrified of it. But it is easy for that to happen as the mainstream media pumps out a daily barrage of COVID news.
Because of this, it is easy to be caught up in a spirit of fear, that the Apostle Paul warned against in 2 Timothy 1:7:
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
A spirit of fear describes a person who is emotionally controlled by their fear and I believe there are several signs that you have been compromised by a spirit of fear:
1. The first sign is exaggeration.
Exaggeration is one of the classic signs of a spirit of fear. Believing one in six people who catch COVID dies from the virus when the reality is only one in 400 reveals that we have turned our enemy into a monster.
In our minds it is bigger and more fearful than it actually is. In the case of those surveyed in France, their COVID monster was over 60 times larger than it actually was.
A July 2020 survey in America was even worse and had COVID 80 times bigger than it actually was. When asked what percentage of people under the age of 24 died of COVID, they responded with 8%. In fact, it is only 0.1%.
2. A persistent state of anxiety
I know of one single Christian woman who so fearful and anxious about COVID that she can’t sleep at night. When she is safe in her bed, with no one around, she is still being chased by the virus.
And it is not just her, according to psychologists it is happening to people around the world, and they have even come up with a name for it — coronasomnia.
And when people do fall to sleep, some report having nightmares about COVID. And article in the Daily Mail revealed that people who are consumed by a fear of COVID state that half their nightmares revolve around the virus.
The writer of proverbs states that the wicked flee when no one is pursuing them. Now I am not suggesting that anyone who is fearful is wicked, far from it. All I am pointing out that because of an inner fear people flee, even though nothing is pursuing them.
3. Declining faith
In the verse in 2 Timothy, Paul writes that instead of a spirit of fear, that believers should have power exposing another tell-tale sign.
When we are caught up in a spirit of fear, unbelief and doubt begin to rule our hearts. We find it difficult to trust God for our safety during this pandemic. Our prayer life wilts.
When Jesus invited the Apostle Peter to join him on the water, Peter confidentially stepped out of the boat and was actually walking on water. But then Matthew records that the apostle started looking at the waves and storm, and he became afraid and started sinking (Mathew 14:30).
Where is your focus? Is it on God or the virus?
4. Increased harshness and judgmental attitudes
In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul also contrasted a spirit of fear with love, revealing another classic sign as our love for others begins to fail.
We become angry and judgmental of people who are not taking COVID as serious as we are. We are angry at those who are breaking the COVID rules.
And this anger and judgmental attitude will often spill over into other non-COVID areas.
5. Losing our sound mind
The final sign is we lose our sound mind, that according to Paul God has already given us.
I remember a few months back a younger person in his 20s died of COVID in the area where I live. Now it is ‘very’ unusual for a person this age to die of COVID and the article was quick to point out that he had severe underlying health issues.
But when a young person posted this story on Facebook, the first thing she said is “I don’t want anyone talking about his underlying health issues.”
She wanted to tell everyone, including young people, that they should be as terrified of COVID as she was. She did not want anyone dispelling her fear by pointing out that he had underlying health issues, even though the young man would have undoubtedly survived COVID if he wasn’t so seriously sick.
But she wanted none of this. Her fear was more real than solid fact. She did not want to be talked out of her fear. In fact, she was almost angry at any who would try.
Yet, a report released by the CDC last year revealed that 94% of the Americans who died of COVID had on average 2.5 other serious medical issues. Only 6% of the deaths were due solely to COVID.
We need to respect COVID, but God does not want us to be terrified of it.
Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
they will be remembered forever.
7 They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. (Psalm 112:6-7)