As long as there is breath in our bodies, each of us has a vulnerability to fear that doesn’t ever completely disappear. We must face it to defeat it. To conquer fear, we must understand the many different ways it disguises itself in its efforts to steer us away from overcoming faith. Faith overcomes fear through courage, and courage is strengthened through exposure of fear’s masks. I commend the reader’s courage to read on.
Fear lurks in concerns, uncertainty, doubt, precariousness, instability, insecurity, imbalance, unpredictability, undependability, unreliability, unfairness, disorder, disarray, distress, and confusion to name some of the hiding places. At this writing, almost 3 months into a global Wuhan China virus pandemic, the meaning of “uncertain future” has been taken to a new level for most of us.
There is a good kind of fear that can serve as a warning for danger. An example may be hearing a rattle while walking in the woods. The warning of rattles on a rattle snake can help steer a person clear of being harmed by the poison of a snake’s bite. But fear can turn into its own kind of poison if concern is unwarranted, too much change comes our direction in a short period of time, or a crisis threatens our safety and security. Fear is sometimes a natural response in wrestling with life’s realities. However, if much time passes without a return to some sort of “normal,” a toxic form of stress weighs a person into anxiety or other unpleasant emotional conditions.
When I post articles in sequence, I usually post the most recent building on the previous article. In this case it is backwards. The previous article called A PILL for the Virus targets how to overcome fear. But I think I mistakenly assumed people recognize fear and want to get rid of it. Sometimes it’s hard to see fear’s affects in our lives, and sometimes we don’t think it’s bad enough to hold us in it’s grip. We must first train ourselves to identity fear before we can deal with it effectively. Fear is a nasty virus. The first step for a person to loosen its grip is to recognize what it looks like in daily life. Asking ourselves some hard questions may be the best way to identify some roots of fear.
Are we thriving? God created human beings to thrive, not just survive. Have we merely adapted to a “new normal,” by creating new bad habits? Or, are we holding firmly to values of faith, family, and friendship no matter what circumstances present us? Whatever we do that is not done with intentional faith, is subject to a fear motivation.
Are we believing lies? God is the source of absolute truth. Truth dispels fear, but fear is always attached to a lie. In the case of this current pandemic, has the truth come out about the true origins, nature of spreading, accuracy of testing, methods of transmission, types of treatment, legitimacy of reporting, etc.? Are we believing inaccurate science, untrustworthy government officials, propagandist so-called news reporting, opportunist financial analysts, ignorant celebrities, or simply anyone who thinks the way we think already?
Are we over-reacting? Everything that happens is within the sight,and timing, of God. There is also nothing “bad” that happens, that he can’t turn into good (Romans 8:28). If we are a follower of Christ, the very worst thing that could happen to us is that we die and go to heaven. My readers may have a different opinion, but I don’t consider that a bad deal! Although fear of death is real for some, the numbers of deaths in the current virus pandemic are smaller in magnitude to other similar pandemics in past times. For persons with a healthy immune system, the chances of death are almost nothing. In addition, because of the negative attention given to health care facilities, people with non-virus related conditions are not seeking proper medical help (or being refused in some cases), and dying from conditions they would have otherwise been successfully treated for (eg. heart attacks, strokes, mental health concerns). Overreacting with fear of exposure to a “potential” virus is causing deaths. Not to mention the economy and how businesses have needlessly been destroyed because of overreactions to the threat of spreading a virus.
At this point let me say that I am not advocating removal of legitimate precautions especially for at risk groups like healthcare workers and first responders. But in my opinion fear reactions by the general public have made conditions far worse than they need to be. The term “self government” is not familiar to as many people these days, but it holds the key to America’s survival as a nation. People cannot be forced to act responsibly and in good character. Virtuous living cannot be legislated into existence. One of our founding fathers Benjamin Franklin, in 1787 when asked what kind of government was created, answered, “A Republic …. if you can keep it.” The virtue practiced (or not practiced) by individuals, makes or breaks the United States of America. This is explained well in a book by Eric MeTaxas called “If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty.” Fear is one of the greatest enemies of the principles and practice of the liberties we enjoy as Americans.
Are we motivated by fear of loss? God, our creator, created us to be creative. Each person has a God-given purpose and meaning in life. Our greatest satisfaction is felt when we are most in alignment with expressions of this purpose. We are naturally motivated to try to make the most of any opportunity to advance this purpose. The loss of missed opportunities are something we want to avoid, so we sometimes settle for the good instead of the best. We go for the counterfeit and forfeit the real thing. We grab the temporary, and lose sight of the lasting satisfaction. Anything we are addicted to (feel like we can’t live without) fits in this category (eg. drugs, porn, busyness, nonmarital intimate relationship, phone, other technology). Fear is the motivator behind the thinking that, “If I don’t have this _______ (fill in blank with person, activity, or thing), then I’ll be missing out on life.”
TV advertisers have exploited our fear of loss for years with “Buy this product or service so you don’t miss out.” Authoritarian style leaders promise, “Give us your acceptance of this inconvenience or restriction, and we’ll provide you with safety.” Fear of loss of security is what motivates people to give up their God-given rights and freedoms.
In recent months the assault of fear has shown itself in many other ways too numerous to mention here. Fear has made everyone suffer (needlessly) for the misdeeds of a few. Fear has people dwelling on the negative (pessimism), and not seeing the positive (optimism). Fear has people drawing away from each other (physical presence) at a time (in crisis) when human connection is needed most (for endurance to persevere to make it through). Especially those being stricken with the Covid-19 virus, isolating them completely from their families is extremely short-sighted. Fear creates and aggravates deeper mental health problems.
Fear is creating havoc in our community, but its roots grow in each individual’s heart. I pose some additional questions here for each person to ask.
How/ where is fear operating in my life?
How/ where has fear become a negative influence in my thinking and actions in a crisis?
In what ways am I thinking differently (than pre-crisis)?
From whom or where did I get information that made me think this way?
How have my beliefs changed?
What am I saying differently?
From whom or where did I/ we acquire the new phrases I/ we am/ are hearing and repeating?
(eg. “flattening the curve,” “social distancing,” “new normal,” “public safety,” “essential services,” “non-essential workers”)
What things am I doing differently?
From whom or where did I pick up these actions and behaviors?
What important values or aspirations have I given up on (as a result of all this)?
Have I/ we been suckered into accepting a dumbed-down existence for no real reason?
How did I/ we let it happen?
What could have I/ we done differently, and how do I/ we now make adjustments/ amends?
Am I/ Are we willing to refrain from complaining, justifying, and blaming
(and take responsibility for our contribution)?
What have I/ we lost? What has been stolen/ destroyed?
How does that make me feel?
How have these thoughts and feelings turned into decisions, opinions, and condemning judgments?
Am I holding bitterness, resentment, or blame that I need to relinquish?
Am I/ Are we still is so much denial that these questions don’t make sense enough to stir thinking?
If it seems like I may have more questions than answers, I guess that’s true. Hopefully these question can spur some rational thinking. Fear traffickers do not want people thinking for themselves. Irrational fear has destructive results. Fear-focused people are doomed to destructive outcomes. Rational thinking focuses on solutions, not the problem. Perhaps now the reader is better prepared to read my previous article for a P-I-L-L (solution) for this virus of fear. (See article at: http://authoredhersh.blogspot.com/2020/05/a-pill-for-virus.html , OR see video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Px1tt5rjdM )
My hope for each reader is to escape the grip of fear as much as possible. This is our only hope for keeping the liberties we value as Americans.
by Ed Hersh, BnB Healing Ministry