In times of great uncertainty we are prone to doubt, worry, and anxious thoughts in larger quantities and with greater intensity than our “normal” is comfortable with. Most of us are having that “normal” greatly stretched with the recent events of a world-wide virus pandemic. Although fear may be a helpful reaction when faced with potential physical harm, fear can become a dangerous virus of its own taking the form of chronic unsettledness, discontent, and confusion. I would like to prescribe the following P-I-L-L for reducing fear and anxiety.
P- Pursue God.
The first dose of any solution to our human problems is to cry out to God. Dating back to ancient times, we have history showing us how God has been faithful to the human race he created. Most of the Psalms were written about 3 thousand years ago, but are incredibly relevant to today. Psalms have been read, spoken aloud, silently meditated on, sung, memorized, dramatized, and fully engaged in other ways by generations of people before us. The authors faced real-life circumstances causing them to seek God, pursue God, find God, and put their trust in God for their Refuge and Salvation. Besides relating to God through the Bible, calling out to him in prayer (both as an individual and in the company of other people) is an essential first step to combat fear.
I- Influence Restriction.
A second dose is to cautiously limit the negative influence of fear mongers. Fear of loss is a powerful motivator of human behavior, and there are forces in our world using this trait to manipulate for evil purposes. For example, the traditional news media is a powerful influencer of public opinion, and have been often hijacked to promote false narratives and fear-based propaganda. Years ago, I personally quit watching TV network so-called news for that reason. For a while I naively thought I could watch it, sort out fact from fiction for myself, and not have the fear-based influences affect me. I discovered a person’s best conscious efforts cannot completely overcome an emotionally manipulative message to create fear. Especially in times when great energy is needed to reduce toxic stress, it’s not worth the risk. Consider your circumstances to discover other negative influences to restrict (ie. so-called social media, gossip, conversations with people who condemn others). Avoid speculators, and limit information intake to the facts.
L- Love as defined by God.
Jesus summarized the ten commandments into two, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39; CSB). When our identity is rooted in God, we can know who we really are, and we can be released to love others in the way we are loved by God. Loving others gives us our deepest meaning and purpose in life. Besides distracting us from our own fears, looking out for the needs and interests of others helps lower others’ fears. Love is a catalyst for good in the face of evil.
L- Live in Faith.
Faith is the ultimate cure for fear. God is the author and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2). As “author,” is the source and provider of faith. As “perfecter,” God is the protector and multiplier of faith. In order for faith to be alive it must be growing continuously. For growth to take place, there must be a transformation of old to new and smaller to larger. With a garden vegetable plant for example, a seed must be placed in the ground. Then the seed becomes a sprout. Then the sprout makes an appearance as a short stub of a plant. A few days or weeks later, it may be a few inches high. Then more time passes and it becomes a foot or more taller or sprawling as a vine. Then fruit first appears as a bud, and then growth of the fruit occurs. Good growth (“perfecting”) depends on good conditions (“authoring”) of soil, water, and temperature. So it is with our faith in the hands of Almighty God. The faith in our heart grows through a transformation and progressive sanctification, lifelong process. A life of faith in God, is a life committed to inside-out change as a life time adventure.
Fear is the greatest enemy of faith. While faith has its source in a good God, fear has its source in an evil adversary (the devil). Going all the way back to the creation of mankind, unbelief, doubt , and confusion were used by our chief enemy to lure us away from God’s love. As long as we live in this broken world, we will not be totally free of the potential harassment of fear, but through Jesus (who defeated all our enemies once for all), God’s love is fully accessible (simply by believing, John 3:16).
We must face our fears with faith. This is called courage. With courage, we can choose belief over unbelief, confidence (in God) over doubt, and clarity (of identity and purpose in God) over confusion. The temptation to fear may not be eradicated, but the courage to respond with faith can grow stronger. Struggles, trials, and tests develop our perseverance (see James 1:2-4). As we grow stronger we develop our capacity for larger struggles and trials. As we witness the global scene become more tumultuous, the possibilities wrought by increasing our resilience (body, mind, soul, and spirit), through faith, should give us hope for facing the future. (See more on the topic of Emotional Capacity in an earlier article at: http://authoredhersh.blogspot.com/2017/10/emotional-capacity-part-2.html ).
Although there is no actual P-I-L-L for the virus called fear, it can be conquering through pursuing God, restricting bad influences, loving (God, self, and others), and living in transformational faith. We can declare with confidence, “virus be gone” by swallowing this pill.
by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry