I traveled to Vietnam in January 2020, planning to teach English for a few months. However, shortly after I began teaching, the first coronavirus cases were reported and schools were closed. As my fellow teachers and I processed this turn of events and discussed what we would do, it was easy to feel afraid. I was on the other side of the world from my family and friends, and I didn’t know what to expect in the coming days and weeks. Several teachers decided to leave Vietnam, but I chose to stay, even though I felt deeply unsettled about what was happening.
After a couple of weeks of letting fear take the reins, I was tired of feeling vulnerable and overwhelmed. I no longer wanted to be distracted and knew I needed to specifically address my fear of uncertainty and contagion. I had to make a decision: Would I let fear continue to control me, or would I take a stand against it, with God?
When we are presented with disturbing images and fearful suggestions, we have divine guidance from God to “fear not: for I am with thee” (Isaiah 43:5). This doesn’t mean to act foolishly, but to listen for Love’s guidance in order to act in the most loving and intelligent way possible, which is naturally free from fear. I love how Mary Baker Eddy explains in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures why we don’t have to be afraid: “Human sense may well marvel at discord, while, to a diviner sense, harmony is the real and discord the unreal. We may well be astonished at sin, sickness, and death. We may well be perplexed at human fear; and still more astounded at hatred, which lifts its hydra head, showing its horns in the many inventions of evil. But why should we stand aghast at nothingness?” (p. 563). This passage helped me see with a “diviner sense” that there is only one reality: God and Her spiritual, harmonious creation. Nothing material can have any power over Spirit.
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