Maybe it’s just me, but it seems we live in a culture that is addicted to fear and anxiety. Were things different before, or is it just my imagination and misinformed idealism?
I live in the United States of America. We used to be bold and brave and feared no person or nation. Our military was among the absolute best in the world. When we heard scary news, it was usually happening somewhere else in the world, and we were jumping up to help. We accepted a certain amount of inconvenience, personal pain, suffering and sacrifice as inevitable and developed a very westernized, “tough,” individual mindset about getting through life.
To start off, many people hate spiders, snakes, lizards, cockroaches, silverfish, scorpions, rats, or any other pests or vermin that might have crawled into their homes. If you live in Florida, you might find an alligator in your front yard! That would make life rather unpleasant and fear-inducing.
For the rest of us: we have to put locks on everything, even in our own houses with our family members. In many neighborhoods, we have iron bars on our windows and doors and a gun under our pillows. We are glued to our devices that we train to feed us a never-ending stream of news, mostly bad. Heinous crimes, horrific accidents, wars, and rumors of wars are a daily occurrence. We see a story about how our new Internet-connected vehicles can get hacked remotely from someone’s laptop, or how some intruder broke into a house in the middle of the night and kidnapped a 5-year old girl sleeping from her bed, or about the latest shooting rampages, like the ones that happened in San Bernardino, California, or La Loche, Saskatchewan, Canada, and we’re shaken for days.
We like to scare ourselves (or maybe I’m the only one who does this!) following those links late at night to subjects about scary historical photos, strange but fascinating facts, and haunted buildings at the ends of those Internet articles we read on our Face Book pages. Horror, action, and disaster movies are their own genres, now with several sub-genres, with more movies being made every year.
For many of us, the harsh realities of losing our jobs, our businesses, our homes, our pets, and our closest loved ones are too much to bear.
Privately, just the gnawing fears that we as Christian singles might never get married or have children terrify many.
What’s outside your house?
Ethnic minorities in many communities still have to live, work, and walk in fear of being called out, hassled, and hurt by someone from a different ethnicity. Gangs have long since expanded from their original inner-city locations to the suburbs and even the upper class, with members hating, scheming, and shooting throughout their territories and keeping their neighborhoods in a stronghold of fear. Different institutions or regions of the country each have their own highly visible groups that weld and sometimes abuse their influence and power by fomenting fear. In your building or region, it might be law enforcement, the “old money” rich, a local secular university, or the LGBT agenda. And ever since 9/11, everything about the way we live and travel has changed drastically.
It’s apparently not only sex that sells now, but fear as well.
According to security research tanks such as Statista, the security business is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. In 2013, the global security services industry earned over 96 billion dollars U.S. with the largest percentages going to Europe, Asia, and the United States. Cybersecurity Ventures quotes market research firm Gartner, who estimates that global spending on IT will reach 101 billion dollars by 2018.
According to NIMH, anxiety is the number one mental health condition facing Americans. The top two anti-depressant anti-anxiety medications made their pharmaceutical companies over 6 billion (that’s B as in broke) dollars in 2011-2012.
We have become a nation of anxious, fearful, medication-seeking souls.
How about us Christians?
Just because we’re Christians doesn’t mean we are immune to the threats and bad events that happen in the world. It rains on the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45). Here’s a promise most believers won’t claim: “in the world, you will have tribulation” (John 16:33, NKJV). However, we’re supposed to be different because we’re Christians. Thankfully, there are other promises for us besides that tribulation one!
Because we are Christians, because we have given Him our hearts and our lives, we belong to Him, and we are “in Christ,” we have access to resources that our friends and family cannot. Who He is, not who we are, makes a big difference in what we can face and what we can endure or accomplish. We can do all things THROUGH CHRIST who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13, NKJV). We do not have to live as slaves to these horrible masters, Fear and Anxiety.
Don’t worry, though, about His understanding what we have to go through in this world. The Lord understands how fragile and fearful we little humans are, though we are His children.
Jesus went through the entire range of basic human experiences and emotions in His lifetime, according to Hebrews 2:17-18, so that He could be a faithful and sympathetic high priest to all of us. That means YOU. He could, with complete understanding and true knowledge, tell us, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32, NKJV).
It makes me feel loved and cherished, like His little baby pet lamb, to be called part of His little flock. I like being in His little flock.
(BTW you know, my friend, from Genesis to Revelation, He has to keep telling us, “Fear not! Don’t be afraid!” I suspect that is because He knows just what we are like. Have you ever gone to your Bible and looked up how many times He’s had to tell us that? You should try that some time!)
So… how does our position in Christ counteract our fearful hearts and our fearful culture? How do you keep fear from thrashing your emotions and controlling you?
Here are five things I practice:
1. I have to trust in this God I’m living for. However, I have to know Him well enough to trust Him when He tells me Fear not (Isaiah 41:10, Luke 12:22–32). How well do you know Him? You’re not going to trust in a so-called God whom you do not know.
2. I recall scripture verses and aspects of God’s character when I am tempted to be anxious or afraid. The Word of God is more real than tomorrow’s newspaper. Scripture and personal worship can bring me back to the unseen reality of Who He is when I need to escape from those rascally monsters, Fear & Anxiety (they look much smaller running out the door than they did coming in!).
3. I keep myself informed of the most important topics (not everything) from the most reliable sources, which is not always my best friend, my neighbor, or the government (Proverbs 22:3). That way I can at least be aware of what’s going on and what’s going down.
4. I stay away from too many YouTubes, news articles, documentaries, and individuals that could induce fear (especially late at night!).
5. I feel the fear, pray, and do it anyway… with as little procrastination as possible (that’s the hard part for me!). If He called me to do it, He will give me the power to get through it (Philippians 4:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:24).
Have some insidious dragons of cultural anxiety or personal fear crept into your heart through your friends, family, classmates, the news, electronic device, or workplace colleagues? If so,
Stop. It. Right. Now. And see what you can do in the next 24 hours to drive those dragons back out the door permanently. Face those dragons with Franklin Roosevelt, who once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”
Forget Everything And Run
F E A R
Face Everything And Rise
The choice is up to you. Maybe you can use one of the five things I do to restart your journey into bold and godly living. Don’t forget to ask other Christians around you to pray for you as you get started; maybe they need to do this, too!
Take this free online quiz to find out: What is Your True Fear? http://www.gotoquiz.com/what_is_your_true_fear
Cybersecurity Ventures. Cybersecurity Market Report, 4th Quarter, 2015. http://cybersecurityventures.com/cybersecurity-market-report/ accessed 01/24/16
National Institute of Mental Health. Statistics; Any Anxiety Disorder Among Adults. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-anxiety-disorder-among-adults.shtml accessed 01/24/16
Snyder, Michael. Global Research. Making money from addiction: 30 million Americans on antidepressants. Twenty facts on America’s big pharma nightmare. http://www.globalresearch.ca/making-money-from-addiction-30-million-americans-on-antidepressants-and-20-other-facts-about-americas-big-pharma-nightmare/5399444 accessed 01/24/16
Statista website. Statistics and facts on the security services industry in the U.S. http://www.statista.com/topics/2188/security-services-industry-in-the-us/ accessed 01/24/16
Statista website. Top antidepressant drugs in the United States based on revenue in 2011-2012 (in million U.S. dollars). http://www.statista.com/statistics/242644/revenues-of-top-depression-drugs-in-the-us-2011-2012/ accessed 01/24/16
Wehrwein, Peter. Harvard Health Publications blog. Astounding increase in antidepressant use by Americans. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/astounding-increase-in-antidepressant-use-by-americans-201110203624