By Rob Furlong
One theme has dominated news headlines recently – toilet paper supplies in our supermarkets are running low as a result of "panic buying" by large numbers of the Australian population.
One reason suggested is the false belief that toilet paper can be used as a face mask to protect you from contracting the Coronavirus.
Now we are getting to the root cause of this erratic behaviour – fear - fear induced by the threat the Coronavirus outbreak represents.
But what does this have to do with relationships?
Simply this - fear is a spectre that lurks, seemingly hidden, at the back of our hearts but often drives unhealthy and irrational behaviours.
And this not only damages us but also our relationships, especially the ones closest to us.
Fear destroying relationships has a long history and goes back as far as Adam and Eve.
It was fear that drove them to rebel against God's command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They bought the lie that God was holding out on them and so they acted on this false belief.
This led to more fear.
Prior to their disobedience, the relationship between Adam and Eve was one of openness, honesty, vulnerability and no shame.
Following their disobedience and becoming aware of their nakedness, the first thing they do is cover themselves with fig leaves in a sad attempt to hide who they really are from each other.
Fear had replaced their previous experience of oneness in body, mind and spirit with shame and secretiveness.
And this is played out in relationships in the present day.
A man hides his secret addiction from his wife because deep down he is afraid to face the pain of his past that drives the addiction.
A woman strives constantly to be the "perfect" wife or mother because she is driven by a desperate fear that she is not and will never be, good enough.
Every one of us has fears and left unchecked, they can cripple us.
Fear that my marriage may end in divorce and I will be unable to cope.
Fear that my past will always haunt me – that I can never be forgiven or find peace.
And perhaps the greatest fear of all – death – and what lies beyond the grave.
It is no surprise to discover then that God has a lot to say about fear - it should have no place in our lives!
Time and again, God speaks directly to our spectre of fear and His message is straightforward: "Do not be afraid!"
In fact, God tells us 366 times in the Bible to "not be afraid!" This is a great encouragement because we have one "do not be afraid!" for every day of the year!
God speaking to our fears is also wonderfully on display through the message of Easter.
On the first Easter morning the risen Jesus greets the grief stricken women at His tomb with the words "Do not be afraid." (Matthew 28:10).
The supposed "failure" of Good Friday, and the fear it generated in Jesus' followers is swept away by these words and the presence of the living, resurrected Jesus.
This is why the Gospel is good news – because the death and resurrection of Jesus has dealt with our sin and death and all the fears associated with them.
What are you afraid of today?
That if your husband or wife knew the truth about you, he or she would leave?
That your boyfriend or girlfriend might dump you?
That you are not good enough to be loved?
Then take courage from this – you are loved deeply and infinitely by God and He longs for you to know this.
The Easter message – that Christ died and rose for your sins - dispels all our fears and opens up new freedom in our relationships!•