Is there something to COVID-19 that is beyond physical? Is there an additional assault on the mind and emotions, producing an inordinate fear of death?
There is no question that many people with COVID have struggled with fears of dying, even if their symptoms were mild. That has been documented by the medical profession as well as confirmed anecdotally.
That's why I asked on Instagram, "Did you personally get COVID? If so, was it entirely physical, or did you experience any emotional or spiritual attacks (such as, 'You're going to die' or 'You'll never get back to normal')?"
— "Physical, emotional and spiritual. Unlike any flu I've ever had."
— "Physical and spiritual. The dreams I had were evil."
— "Suffer some physical but definitely there was a lot of emotional/spiritual attack!"
— "Very spiritual. Our family felt an assault of darkness attached to the virus."
It may only be a small minority of COVID-sufferers who experienced this (as suggested by my Twitter survey). But the question remains: Why?
Looking at natural rather than supernatural explanations, the first and most obvious consideration is this: We hear about COVID-related deaths day and night. We read and see the constant flood of bad news and are exposed to gut-wrenching, painful stories. And many of us have lost friends or family members or colleagues to COVID.
How can all of this not affect some of us emotionally?
Surely, in this environment, it is not surprising that many people who get COVID get hit with thoughts of, "You're next! You'll be in the hospital soon, and you'll die there."
The second non-supernatural explanation is provided by the medical profession.
People who are hospitalized with COVID are often separated from loved ones by quarantine rules, removing them from their lifelong system of support and encouragement and hope. They are hooked up to machines. They are visited by doctors and nurses wearing strange outfits, impersonally covered from head to toe. And many of those who are hospitalized are suffering terribly.
As noted in Vox, "The ordeal is so taxing that many wish for death. 'You hear the patients say, "I just want to die because this is so excruciating,"' [critical care professor Kenneth] Remy says. 'That's what this virus does.'"
"Others feel that death is coming no matter what they do. [Todd Rice, a critical care and pulmonology specialist] notes that is much more so for his COVID-19 patients than others he has treated. There seems to be something about COVID-19, he says, 'that makes people prone to having a feeling of, "I really believe I'm going to die."'"
In settings like this, left alone in a foreign environment with nothing but your own thoughts, the fear of death can be very real. And with the fear of death comes a host of other, tormenting thoughts, including feelings of abandonment and despair.
Again, this can all be explained in a totally natural way, without recourse to demonic forces of any kind.
And this may have been some of what I experienced on Jan. 9, two weeks into my bout with COVID. I thought I was getting better, only to lose all my strength and find myself virtually confined to bed. It was then that I got the devastating news that a dear, decades-old friend in his mid-50s died of COVID, despite thousands of people praying for him.
As the night wore on, in a way that is totally foreign to me (being an extreme optimist with deep confidence in God's goodness), those tormenting thoughts began to hit me: "This is how it ends. You'll never make it out of your 60s. All your dreams and goals end here. You will leave your precious wife and family behind."
Where on earth was this coming from?
Again, there could be a perfectly natural explanation to this. And it's even possible that COVID affects the body in such a way that one's emotions are impacted as well. After all, the brain is part of the body.
I can't comment on that possibility at all because of my lack of medical knowledge.
But I can say this. I do know my relationship with the Lord. I do know the reality of my faith. And I do have some understanding of the spiritual realm.
That's why I don't discount for a moment the demonic nature of some of these fears and emotional assaults. (By demonic, I mean originating with the devil, who is as real as you and I are, and actualized by demons, who are also quite real.)
After all, one of Satan's greatest tools is fear. And the greatest fear of all is the fear of death (and, in some cases, fear of what is coming beyond death).
As the letter to the Hebrews states with reference to why the Son of God became a human being, "Because God's children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying." (Heb. 2:14-15, NLT).
That's why it doesn't surprise me that many COVID sufferers have spoken of the tormenting fears they dealt with when suffering with COVID.
There are natural explanations for this. But there are supernatural explanations as well.
Let's not rule any of them out.
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Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Revival Or We Die: A Great Awakening Is Our Only Hope. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter, or YouTube.
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