How do I overcome the guilt from fearing COVID-19?

Hi, everyone :slight_smile:

As COVID-19 is rapidly spreading in the U.S., my anxiety levels are rising. My husband and I, both, work in healthcare, so we are doubling the chance of exposure to ourselves and to our one year old.

God makes it clear that He wants us to trust Him and to keep praising Him, even during times like these (I am currently reading The Book of Job, and it has really opened my eyes).

God has also commanded us to set our minds on Him, rather than on earthly things. I admit COVID-19 has been a distractor in my life, and realizing this has made me feel extremely guilty.

How can I overcome this guilt and steer my focus back to God? How do I ask for His forgiveness, while feeling so ashamed?

I pray all are well :pray:t3:

15 Likes

Bless your heart. My heart goes out to you. I am sure many of us would have the same fear if we were in the “frontlines” of coping with this virus. It grieves my heart to hear you are feeling guilt and shame for having fear. I think it is natural to have fear, especially in your position and the fact that you have a precious 1 year old.
The fact that you are reading Gods word and reaching out to others in the faith, to me, demonstrates that you do trust that God is the only sustainer.
The Psalms are a good example of a people in deep distress and fear, writing them out in poetic fashion. I remember reading somewhere, that when you don’t know what to pray, or you can’t pray, for whatever reason, pray the Psalms. Psalm 91 is a good one to read out loud.
Please don’t add guilt and shame on top of the fear you have in a real situation. Keep seeking the Lord. Keep reaching out for support. Keep praying and reading in the midst of your fear and hopefully, the fear will dissipate or at least minimize.
I am lifting you and your precious family up. I want to also thank you guys with all of my heart for being caretakers :heart:

12 Likes

@OJMCKEE Greetings :slight_smile: Our emotions, whether fear or worry or anger, are never intended to be a source of shame for us. God knows that we are dust; He remembers that we are only human. And He invites us to come to Him when we are weary; when we are frustrated; when we are hurting; and to receive His peace, strength, hope, and love.

Even King David, who is often our example of bold faith, often came to God in extreme weakness and concern. And he was completely unashamed of his humanity; of his weakness. He laid them at God’s feet and allowed the Good Shepherd to renew His strength and courage. I think that is a good example for us.

In the Bible, God is our shelter, our Father, our hiding place when we are weak or afraid. God does not shame us when we run to Him in our need, but instead folds us in His arms. May Christ surround you and your family with His love and set you free from any sense of guilt or shame as you bring your needs to Him by His Spirit :slight_smile:

Matthew 11:28-30 - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Psalms 103:13-18 - As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

Psalms 6 - Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O Lord—how long?

Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise?

I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.

Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.

12 Likes

Praying for the safety of your family and all who are on the front lines. My Daughter an RN in a local hospital that at this time is like you, very concerned, nervous for the safety of all her family and like you she has continued to fulfill her calling. She is being very cautious for her children and us as immune compromised people.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:1 NKJV
Your deep love for Jesus leads me to a different thought of commendation, not condemnation. Jesus spoke to the woman and said neither do I condemn you, you have continued to reach out though you have guilty feelings. That which is greater in you has filled you with strength to do when your thoughts say no.
If I may, Daughter i commend you for continuing in the calling were by you were called as Job said though he slay me yet will i serve Him. I am overtaken with the depth of compassion and love for family and your fellow man, I am inspired by it. Our vulnerability is part of who we are and I appreciate your honesty by reaching out in your time of greatest need.
Three times Jesus asked let this cup pass from me, but said not my will but yours be done.

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Isaiah 41:10 NKJV

Added you and family to prayer list my fellow laborer and friend.
Mike

10 Likes

Hey Olivia :grinning:. I wanted to encourage you that your fears are rational at a normal human level. The fact that you’ve recognised them as a distraction from God is such a positive step too. You’re already doing better than you think!

I know how oppressive guilt can be, and I want to point out that guilt does not come from God. He often convicts us if our hearts are not in the right place, so that he can steer us back to the right place. But guilt is not from him, so I hope you can rest knowing God doesn’t condemn you for your fears. Continue to pray for God to show you His heart for you and your family. I often find that when I step back from my situation and ask God how he sees it, that my human fears and doubts just melt away.

Praying for health and protection over your family.

9 Likes

Hi Olivia :slightly_smiling_face:

I first want to add that I echo the comments and prayers of the others who have already given feedback to you. I too am praying with you for you and your family during this time. I was just interested to get more of your thoughts on why you believe that you are feeling guilty. Is it because you believe you lack the faith that you think you should have, or is it that you are feeling distracted in that you don’t feel God is the priority in your life? Sometimes it can help to try and get to the real heart of why we think and feel a certain way.

Blessings

6 Likes

Hi, @Brian_Upsher!

The guilt is caused from a couple of things.

I have asked myself, “How can I be afraid if I truly trusted God? I must not have enough trust in Him as I thought I did.”

I’ve also thought to myself, “If I fear death, that must mean I desire to be on earth more than in Heaven with my Lord and Savior.”

I try my best to spread hope in His Word through social media, especially while a lot of negativity seems to flood my newsfeed. Although I do have hope in Christ, I wonder if being afraid at the same time would make me a “liar?”

I guess by asking myself all of this I am trying to determine if I am being a true Christian through this. I wonder if, by being afraid, I am letting God down.

Thank you for your prayers! I pray for you and the whole world! :earth_africa: :pray:t3: :heart:

6 Likes

@OJMCKEE Thanks for bringing this up, Olivia. I too am in healthcare, and during the past two weeks I’ve grappled with some of the same fears. I know from past experiences that God does not hold my fears against me. He invites me to acknowledge them and and put them in His hands. He teaches me through these experiences what’s in my own heart (and that can be painful) so that I would more deeply know Him. We are His, and He loves us way more than we love our own. If my child had a nightmare and came running to me, I would run to him with my arms wide open and hold him close. I would not be disappointed that he was afraid. In his fear, he comes to me. That is a good thing; he knows where to go. As for whether you are being a true Christian, God really wants truth in our inward parts. He’s not looking for human perfection but for the real thing; He already knows our frame and how weak we are. At one point in his life, the great prophet Elijah was depressed and afraid; so was David when he fled to the Philistines. God still loved them and used them. Getting back to our present reality though, it is heartbreaking to see the severe cases (and I see them from afar) and then to think they are at the hospital alone without their loved one to hold their hand. That prompts me to pray that in their isolation, God becomes the One they look to, and in looking they find life and peace. Thanks for praying for the whole world; you have a beautiful redeemed heart.

4 Likes

Hi Olivia and thanks for your reply

I would like to just make 3 further points:

First, it is often the case in Christian circles that we compare ourselves to other Christians. We might see how others live their lives, or especially how others pray, and we compare our faith based on those we watch or fellowship with. My advice is to meet God as you are, to be honest with God, and ask Him to show you how He sees you :slightly_smiling_face:. You want to see yourself with true vision that is of God.

Secondly, the devil will implant lies and deceptions to try to affect your faith and the flow of God’s love through your life. The devil wants you to see a false vision of yourself and therefore of God. Guilt can be a feeling that you have failed or haven’t done enough for God, in other words, guilt can be a failure in your work towards gaining approval from God! But God doesn’t approve you because you are good, you are approved because He is! Again, ask God for power to overcome false beliefs and to see as He sees you.

Lastly, to grow in faith and to grow in trust often requires a growing in intimate knowledge and therefore relationship with God. This doesn’t just happen but should be a continues lifelong journey for all believers. If you continue seeking God and desiring to know Him, He will reveal more of Himself to you and your faith will grow. Put God first and He will take care of the rest :slightly_smiling_face:.

Proverbs 3: 5-6:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

5 Likes

Hi, Olivia. I can only imagine how distressing it may be to work in healthcare right now and have a young baby too.

So i won’t pretend to really understand. But sometimes i believe i have been used as a prophet. So here i go.

This is what the Lord is saying, as far as i can tell.

+++++++
Don’t worry, My child, I have let you experience a weakening of faith and strong fear so that you will be a greater instrument for Me. You will now have deeper empathy and I will release more healing power through you to others. You will experience verification of this message soon. And you will believe. Your holy fire is coming even now.
+++++++

If i got this message wrong I am sorry, Olivia. I’m still practising, like we all are. Peace in you, and through you, and all about you. Amen, so it is.

3 Likes

@OJMCKEE There is no shame in being afraid. It is true that Jesus taught not to worry about the things of this life, but seek Heaven (Luke 12:22-34). It is also true that our Savior expressed fear beyond our imagining in Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46). We cannot possibly comprehend what he experienced. Yet “for the joy that was set before him [he] endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2b, ESV). If the Word was allowed to fear, are we not? We must set our eyes on Heaven so that we can endure whatever God has for us to endure, which is a mighty lot less than what our Savior endured!

4 Likes

I salute you and all healthcare personnel :woman_health_worker::man_health_worker:

You guys are the real MVP and the world appreciates your dedication and stamina in this season.

Everyone have/will experience these feelings at some point, so you are not alone. The trick is not to let it consume you.

What works for me is to think about what I am thinking about and to cast down every vain imagination that exaltes itself against the knowledge of Christ Jesus.

Even if that means sitting for a while in silence before God until I feel a calm in my spirit. Take your sabbath and rest in the loving kindness of Jesus. He wants to hold your hand through it all.

Will be praying for you and your family :family_man_woman_boy:

3 Likes

Hello, fellow Memphian! :wave:
Lots of people have already said what I would also say. That is, those who deeply trust God can and will still experience fear…overwhelming fear, even. Just think of Jesus in the garden…sweating blood…facing something I couldn’t ever imagine having to face. I don’t think we would ever suppose that Jesus ‘just needed to trust God more’!

I think the most important thing you can do is be honest about how you feel with those around you…like you’ve just been with us. The shared experience can connect us more humanly, I believe, to others!

I say that not to diminish or push aside any fear anyone is feeling – I have my fair share! – but as a reminder to myself that I have a Saviour God who is with me, with you, with us in this time. :raised_hands:

Much love to you and the rest of this community!

7 Likes

May I encourage you both to read Psalm 91 and claim its promises. We often do communion together too. Trust Jesus to care for you. Use protective gear. Wash thoroughly, and often. Use common sense precautions. You are in a war, and this virus is from our enemy, whose mission is to steal, kill & destroy.

3 Likes

Hi Brendan @blbossard, wouldn’t you say though that the Word’s fear was different than what we normally call fear? I have a hard time seeing it as fear. Mine is usually the lack of “seeing” God at work and the fear of not having any control over a difficult circumstance. If the Lord says to me, “fear not” then whatever He experienced in Gethsemane would have to be different. May be He was seeing the horror of separation from God? the shame and ridicule and pain of the cross? What do you think? Can you expound on your thought? I was driving home from work yesterday thinking of the verse that says, “in all their affliction he was afflicted …” and it occurred to me He gasped for breath at the cross; every breath he took must have hurt … this is what those patients with the severe covid pneumonia experience. The thought really blessed my heart. He knows and understands. But fear? I don’t know. I have a hard time seeing that because in my experience fear is caused by weak vision. If you don’t mind, I would be interested in hearing a little more of your thoughts on Gethsamane.

1 Like

@ALandis I love that question! My answer is three-fold: (a) fear is a morally neutral emotion that God built into the human design; (b) if we are to acknowledge that Jesus is fully human, then we must acknowledge that he was capable of experiencing the full range of human emotions, including fear; and (c) the text that I cited shows that he experienced fear.

(a) Fear is a morally neutral emotion that God built into the human design. Merriam-Webster defines it as “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.” There are other uses of the term; I think that this is a reasonable definition for our purpose. It is like anger, sadness, happiness, and whatever other emotion may exist. These are the dashboard lights that God built into human nature. They signal that something is or can go right or wrong. We then choose how to proceed with the information that the signal is giving us: we can ignore it and proceed apace; we can proceed with increased alertness to potential hazards or rewards; or we can completely alter our course. What we choose to do carries moral weight. The emotion itself carries no intrinsic moral weight.

Many people behave honorably in the midst of fear. Do you think that Medal of Honor recipients do not feel fear? Do firemen and policemen never feel fear? If my wife or son were kidnapped and I had an opportunity to rescue them, I would be morally obligated to rescue them even though I may feel afraid. There are many other more mundane opportunities to experience fear. In no case should that fear ever drive my behavior.

I looked up afraid and fear in the English Standard Version of the Bible. These appear in many contexts, in only a few of which Jesus implies that those being fearful have little faith, e.g. during the storm on the sea of Galilee in Mark 4:40. The two primary contexts that you may have in mind are Matthew 10:16-33 and Luke 12:4-34. These contexts have Jesus presenting fear of persecution and death, and fear of losing or not getting temporal treasure in the context of staying focused on God and Heaven. A careful reading of these passages reveals that Jesus is actually telling his disciples not to let fear of temporal things drive their actions. In other words, he was warning his disciples against allowing any feelings of fear that they may have to metastasize into worry and spiritual timidity and its consequential behavior. These latter things are what we can properly call sinful because they truly belie an idolatrous faith in things less than God.

(b) If Jesus is fully human, then he was capable of experiencing fear. I think that you and I probably agree that Jesus is both fully human and fully God; therefore, I will immediately move to the second part of my answer to your question. I think that it is reasonable to conclude that if God built fear into the human design, then to deny that Jesus was at least capable of experiencing fear is to deny that he is fully human. It would be akin to saying that Jesus was not capable of being angry, or happy, or sad, all of which emotions he demonstrated according to the writers of the Gospels. I am willing to pursue this point further if you think that I need to; but I think probably you can see the logic of this step.

(c) The text that I cited shows that he experienced fear. First, here is the text from Luke 22:39-46:

And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Note three things:

  1. He stated that what he was about to experience was not his will and prayed for his Father to “remove this cup” from him. Why would he pray this if he felt no fear of what he was about to experience–the “horror of separation from” his Father and “the shame and ridicule and pain of the cross,” as you put it? I think that you would agree that he was not asking his Father to remove a mere inconvenience from his path to glory. Yet he set his own will aside and did his Father’s will. He expects us to do this, too, despite any fear we may have of earthly consequences when we do.
  2. He needed an angel to strengthen him. If he was not afraid, then why did he need a being that he created to come to give him strength? God does not need angelic help. Man does. The fully human Jesus felt fear, and his Father sent an angel to aid him and enable him to continue to pursue his Father’s will.
  3. He experienced such agony that he had to pray more intensely and sweated blood. This is a common subject of many sermons so I will not site any research for this. I think that it is enough to observe that this is the only time that the Gospel writers record such an intense spiritual struggle as this. If Jesus ever experienced fear, it was at this moment. He still continued along this horrifying path that was his Father’s will.

So this is why I believe that Jesus experienced fear. Fear is intrinsically amoral–a signal just like other human emotions. Jesus was capable of experiencing fear because he is fully human. He experienced it in the Garden of his passion, yet still pursued his Father’s will even though he did not want to. He handled his fear exactly as he expects us to handle it. There is no shame in feeling fear. Rather, there is honor in pursuing God’s will in spite of our fears.

5 Likes

Thank you so much for this wonderful and thorough reply. I have found that when my heart is cold, nothing draws me back like Gethsemane @blbossard. In my earlier response I was thinking more of the result of fear, but now I see it more clearly, and I agree wholeheartedly. One thing though that puzzles me is the “not my will, but yours be done” In other scripture we read how He came to do the will of the Father and that it was His pleasure to do God’s will. So He wanted to do God’s will but yet asked if it were possible for the cup to pass from him. To me this is amazing. Thanks again, Brendan, for your well thought-out response.

3 Likes

Olivia, I’m jumping in here after a busy few days and not being able to participate in Connect as much as I’d like. I just wanted to say, I hear ya sister! Your feelings are not bad. Our pastor taught a wonderful lesson on emotions not long ago. He said our feelings aren’t always bad. It’s what we do with them that matters. When you get to a point that you have a feeling like what you’ve described you have a choice to make. Your feelings of fear can lead you to sin and despair, or they can lead you to draw closer to God and other positive actions. Which way will you choose to go? When I feel as you do the first thing I do is pray to God and tell Him ALL about it. I then ask Him to make me feel the way He wants me to feel, for example, at peace, strong, confident in His control over the situation, etc. God can take away our fears and replace them with something better if we but ask. And I don’t know how persistent you are but I encourage you, don’t just pray once, keep praying when you feel that fear coming on, or better yet, pray first thing in the morning before it even happens. Pray for God to keep you strong all day. I hope you are feeling better about this after all the encouragements in this post!

Here is the sermon that I mentioned that our pastor gave us on emotions. It was so good that my husband, who hates talking about how he feels, said he wanted to get up and leave in the middle of it. It made him so uncomfortable but he said it was wonderful and really helped him. :blush:

4 Likes

Olivia,
There have been wonderful, helpful responses on fear and shame/guilt, so I don’t want to revisit those but add a complementary thought.

First, there is a difference between and abstract and a concrete fear and how we should overcome them.

Abstract is fearing that an enemy might come and break down your door. It becomes very concrete when you actually hear him using an ax on the door. I think in one you need to remap your perspective/feelings/emotions and get your imagination under control, in the other you actually need deliverance. (And what is God’s story with mankind from the beginning if not deliverance?)

Your risks with COVID-19 are extremely concrete. And you were created with a brain wired to protect your child at all costs. So give yourself a lot of grace in processing your feelings and anxieties.

We are all in the refiner’s fire right now. These struggles are for our benefit so we have an opportunity to seek him and grow in our trust. I’ve seen several articles online about how pandemics in the Roman Empire during the early church were a means of expansive growth of Christianity, because it was Christians that stayed behind and cared for the sick and dying. It’s impossible to know how this will shape our world, but being in the frontlines enables you to be a light in the darkness and peace in the chaos.

Pray for deliverance. Pray for protection for your child. Pray for peace and continued courage to face the crisis everyday. Ask the Lord, “what lesson do you have for me in the midst of this?” And be thankful in all things, especially this crisis. And know, with confidence and boldness, that God has lifted you up for this purpose and he will work through you and complete his work in you.

We will all be praying this for you and your family.

5 Likes

From the bottom of my heart, thank you, ALL, for your uplifting words. It made me emotional to read such loving and reassuring responses!

I want to share something positive, in the midst of this.

I am so grateful for technology and for the ability to stream church service online, as we are “social distancing.” I hosted a watch party on Facebook last Sunday, thinking “Why not? It’s our only way to spread the gospel at the moment!” I was blown away by how many people joined in.

Although this is a scary time, I have witnessed that the crisis we are in has brought out the vulnerability in so many people, drawing them near to our precious Savior.

I have mixed feelings about this pandemic. Some days I have to just lay my fears at His feet when I am overwhelmed with concern and uncertainty, but other days I rejoice from the overwhelming gladness that fills my heart when I witness the very miracle He is performing right now- saving those who are lost and gifting them with eternal life! I, myself, have drawn even closer to Christ during this time, and it seems as if I thirst for Him more every day.

Thank you, all, for your genuine prayers. You all have continued to be in mine, as well.

Stay safe, and praise The Lord, through the good times and through the trying times, for He is good, all the time! :heart:

5 Likes