I was told a statistic this week that the level of anxiety in America has risen from 11%, the normal rate, to over 40% as of July 2020. 40% of the people in America as of July were saying they felt anxious. That speaks of fear.
Anxiety and fear are close cousins. They are often interrelated. Fear is the true virus of this era. Fear is what is often being promoted by news networks, by social media, by pundits on podcasts. It is fascinating that fear is being promoted by all sides. Those who think the virus and the pandemic are real promote fear. And those who believe yes there is a virus, but the pandemic itself is a worldwide effort to manipulate the populace also tend to promote fear. It is just as scary to think there is some kind of worldwide game of control going on as to think there is a virulent virus. It is as if fear is a kind of food and everyone is craving more of it.
“People are starving for fear, and are seeking it out,” my chiropractor told me this week.
That is a very strange thing to say isn’t it? Starving for or craving fear. I think this is the picture—when we feel afraid we have the illusion that we then have more control. Indeed, since fear is in the very air around us, when afraid we align ourselves to the atmospheric pressure.
Preceding an interview on a more conservative web station was an advertisement urging people to get their food supply ordered NOW! The non-perishable food kits could be ordered for Christmas gifts! The reason? We will soon lack access to food. Whether or not this is true, the ad used fear to manipulate.
My wife, Karen, is the guardian for her 96-year-old mother. Her sister, in charge of the 24-hour care workers, wrote a text saying a care workers’ son had tested positive for Covid. The text was filled with fear. A kind of blind panic as if positive meant certain contagion. She feared for the other care workers, for her own children, for mom. True if mom got Covid and died it would be sad but it wouldn’t be tragic. She’s lived a long full life. But here is the fact: there’s nothing saying getting Covid is a death sentence. According to today’s stats, there have been 14 million cases in the USA and 281,000 deaths. That’s a 2% death rate, without taking into account how many deaths are attributed to Covid-19 while caused by a traffic accident, or other disease. All in all, yes, be cautious with those who are 75 and older, but there is no cause for fear.
As far as Karen’s mom is concerned, she takes so many powerful vitamins and eats such a great diet, she is healthier than I am. I bet she’d kick any virus. In the end the worker tested negative.
Fear is never the answer.
One night when we were a young married couple with three children a salesman came to our door. This man was selling a heat-sensitive fire alarm system. He told us it would save our lives! He showed pictures, told stories, described in livid detail tragic losses because people did not have his product.
We were young and not discerning of the presence of fear in our house. This man was hooded with it. Manipulated by fear, we signed the contract for most of my month’s salary to get his product. Fear. We put them up in that house, but when we moved didn’t reinstall them. They ended up in a garage sale.
But, “What are we actually afraid of?” Have you ever walked the fear to the very end, using the line, “Well, if that happened, then what…?” Usually, the end is death, but spoiler alert, there is no avoiding death! Besides, death is not the end, any more than a doorway is. It is an exit and entrance simultaneously. Perhaps it is time to exercise faith not fear.
Don’t you think it is time to place trust in Jesus who is BIGGER than all of this?
Here’s what CS Lewis wrote in 1942 to counter a world fearing the advent of the atomic age:
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation.
Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.— “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays, emphasis added
Perhaps, knowing our propensity toward fear is why God in his Word told us time and again a very simple maxim: Do. Not. Fear.
“Do Not Be Afraid” appears more than 70 times throughout the scripture. This does not include the many times variants occur such as “Fear not,” or “do not fear,” so the number is most likely higher. Often “do not be afraid” is attached to the actions God will take on our behalf:
- “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” (Exodus 14:13) [This is one of my favorite verses.]
- “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” (Deuteronomy 3:22)
- “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” (Joshua 10:8)
- “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
The emotion of fear and the decision to abide in it steals from our very ability to live. Our breathing when fearful is more shallow. We become reactive. Therefore, refuse fear, friends. View it as an enemy and send it packing. The current world pandemic does not demand fear, it demands, rather, faith and hope.
So, when fear knocks at your life’s door, send Jesus to answer it. He’ll send the intruder away.