A few weeks ago I had my last Children’s Church lesson with the kids in our church. We talked about fear, and the fact that the instruction to not be afraid is found 365 times in the Bible – one for every day of the year.
We talked about how fear is very natural, and that there are several things that can and will make us afraid, but that God doesn’t want us to live in that fear. That’s not His design. I tried to help them understand that His love casts out all fear, so His desire is that during those times that we are scared we would turn to Him and find peace and comfort that makes no sense to us, but can only come from Jesus.
The kids seemed to get it, and considering what all of those kids are facing right now, it was appropriate.
Every single one of the kids in that room are currently in a situation that can cause fear and anxiety: Five of them are in homes that are filled with moving boxes, two are saying goodbye to some of their very best friends, and one is on the other side of the world, serving on a mission trip.
It was a fun lesson and a good day.
And I’m really going to miss teaching those kids.
I have thought about that lesson several times lately, usually when I’m scrolling through social media.
There’s a lot out there that can be scary. And there are a lot of people out there who seem to be very afraid.
And there are also a lot of people out there who are trying to capitalize on that fear. Some do it for money, some for prestige, some for power, and most for the combination of those three.
And I just want to say one thing: Stop it.
Stop trying to scare me. Stop trying to scare my friends. Stop looking to see where people are most vulnerable and pouncing on that, hoping you get something out of it.
That’s just not cool.
Because when people are responding out of fear and acting out of fear, they aren’t thinking rationally. There’s a big long scientific explanation for that, with specific terms and acronyms, and you can look it up if you want to. Here’s a link with a video and everything if you really want to learn more. I find it fascinating.
But in the most basic terms, fear causes a tiny part of your brain to take over. The main goal of that tiny part of your brain is to keep you alive – no matter what. Rational thought is put on pause, critical thinking is put on pause, pretty much everything other than “stay alive” is put on pause.
So that’s not the best time to be making important decisions.
But that seems to be what a lot of people want – for us to make major decisions based solely on fear.
Decisions on who to vote for. Decisions on where to shop and what to buy. Decisions on when and where to go to the bathroom. Decisions on how to treat people. Decisions on where to attend church.
All based on fear.
Fear of what might happen. Fear of what might be said. Fear of what might be encountered. Fear of how people will respond.
Fear of what we have absolutely no control over.
So what can we do?
Well, if you are one of those preying on people’s fear – knock it off. Have some integrity.
If you don’t write the posts, but simply share them to “educate others”, perhaps take a minute, or ten, or even 24 hours before hitting the share button. Re-read the post and decide if the goal of it truly is to educate, or if the goal is to perpetuate fear. And if it is about scaring people, then don’t share it.
Just scroll on, my friend.
And if you are one who feels afraid, I understand. I know that often times the fear is out of your control. I get it.
And I know that telling you not to be afraid is not helpful.
I know. I’ve been there.
Please know that you are not alone.
I want to encourage you to find someone you can trust. Someone you can talk to when you are afraid. Someone who will listen.
Someone who will take you to Jesus when you just can’t get there yourself. Someone who will pray for you, pray with you, and help you sense His love.
Put down the phone, close the computer, turn off the TV.
Read a book to your child. Go for a walk outside.
Take a deep breath.
Focus on something true. Something noble. Something lovely.
This isn’t avoiding the world. This isn’t turning a blind eye to suffering or pain.
This is simply learning how to walk in this broken world while keeping your focus on Christ. It is putting you into the spot you need to be in order to make calm, rational decisions.
Decisions based on love, not fear.
And those are the types of decisions that can change the world.
See you soon.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:6-8