A Culture of Fear

We live in a society that has been overrun by fear. I don’t think that statement is a surprise to anyone reading this. We are living in a time when we all have access to everything that is happening, all the time, all over the world. If there is a home invasion in Arizona or an outburst of violence in Timbuktu, we will all be alerted instantaneously. Not only will be we notified on our phones, we will see stories about it on the TV news, receive information about it in our email, and inevitably hear about it from friends and family. And the news is not the only source of this. Social media is filled with comments, articles, stories, and anecdotes of everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong, or might ever potentially go wrong. We are surrounded by a swirling tornado of information, opinion, and conspiracy theories. All these things combine to create an echo chamber of fear. It often feels as though the entire world is working to make us all afraid all the time. Statistics bear this out. On average about 40 million adults are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder each year. That is 18%-19% of the adult population. That is a significant number of people and that number only captures those who are seeking treatment. It does not capture anyone who is struggling alone. In the midst of that, how do we navigate this fear as believers? What does Scripture have to say ? What can we do to address our own anxieties?

All throughout the Bible, God addresses fear and anxiety. The we are looking at is in Matthew 6:25-34. These verses are in the middle of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon, Jesus outlines how Christ followers are to live and he directly speaks about anxiety. He tells us that we don’t need to worry because God will provide. He points to the birds and the grass of the field to give an example of how God provides. He says that the birds don’t gather, or store and they have plenty to eat. He says that the lilies of the field are dressed in more splendor than Solomon. He also poses the question, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Every time I read this passage, that question stops me in my tracks. Can our fear, anxiety, or worry add even a second to our lives? The answer is obviously no. Anxiety steals time from our lives. Jesus goes on to tell us that we don’t need to worry about any of this because if we seek his Kingdom and his righteousness then all of this will be given to us. If we place Christ at the head of everything, he will always provide for us. Because of this we don’t need to worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will worry about itself.

This is a beautiful passage of reassurance. Christ is telling us directly that as we seek him and place him at the head of our lives, he will provide for all that we need. However, we are human, and we are living in society that intentionally magnifies fear. What can we do when we turn on the TV and it looks like every major American city is on fire? What can we do when we unlock our phones and see that a new virus has infected millions of people and killed hundreds of thousands worldwide? What can we do when we are faced with our children to entering this world that looks so intensely frightening? I am going to suggest three immediate actions to begin addressing our sense of fear and anxiety as we look at the world today.

The first action we can take is to turn to our Father. We can seek him, seek his Kingdom, and seek his righteousness. This is vital because this is what he tells us to do! Jesus tells us to seek him and his righteousness first and these things will be added to us. So, let’s start there.

The second action we can take is meditate on his Word. There is a clear call throughout Scripture to meditate on the Word. What this means is that we must think deeply about God’s word in order to understand it and apply it to our lives. I would encourage you to do that with the passage in Matthew. And here are several others that speak to anxiety and fear that we can let sink into our hearts:
Phil 4:6-7  |  2 Tim 1:7  |  Psalms 34:4  |  Rom 8:38-39  |  Proverbs 12:25  |  1 Peter 5:7

The last action we can take is to be grateful. Throughout Scripture we are commanded to give thanks. We are told over and over again to praise the Lord for the things he has done for us. Modern psychiatric research has found that expressing gratitude helps people to ease their anxiety. It is simply confirming what Scripture has told us to do for millennia. As we come to the Father and thank him for what he has given us, we will be less focused on our own anxieties.

I would like to encourage you to take some time today to spend with the Father. Take time to seek him in his Word and seek him through prayer. Write down some of the Scriptures that speak about anxiety and begin to memorize them and allow their truth to bathe your heart. Write down 3 or 4 things you are grateful for today and remind yourself of them throughout the day, the weekend, and next week. We believe in a God who loves us unconditionally. A God who created everything we see and who is bigger than all of it. If he can do that, then we can certainly cast our anxieties on him and allow him to take care of them for us.
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Josh Cervone

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