Have current events filled you with fear? Over recent weeks, you can’t read the news without mention of the coronavirus. We read words like “pandemic,” “quarantines” and “highly contagious” and it is easy to become afraid. There have been widespread cancellations of events — suspension of the NBA season, and no fans will be admitted to the NCAA basketball tournament. The stock market has plummeted amidst economic uncertainty. It almost feels like you are reading a novel or watching a movie trailer as different pieces of news continue to be announced.
The world all of a sudden seems small and quite vulnerable. And in such times, it is easy to panic. Fear is a primal motive that all of us experience at different levels. Ever since the Garden of Eden when man and woman sinned, fear entered into world along with guilt and shame. The perfect environment of Eden that God created for humanity was interrupted due to our rebellion against God. A world that had nothing but peace was now broken, allowing a host of negative and toxic emotions. Fear is one of the greatest of these emotions. True fear can paralyze humans leading to insecurity, panic and deep lack of peace. We are never at our best when buried under fear.
There are some healthy fears. We should have a “healthy fear” of jumping in front of a bus or handling a rattlesnake. That is a healthy respect that can keep us safe. The Bible also speaks about a “Holy fear.” This is right and reverent fear for a God who can judge us and condemn us for all of eternity. Thankfully, this same God has chosen to love us and rescue us through Jesus Christ, but we should never take him lightly or lack reverence for Him.
The fear that is so devastating though is “hostage fear.” Hostage fear is the fear that seizes you and will not let go. This fear paralyzes you and keeps you up at night. Hostage fear seeks to make you its prisoner. This fear comes from the pit of hell, and is actually one of the enemy’s greatest weapons against us. When Satan can launch us into fear, he creates a sense of panic and irrational thinking. Hostage fear becomes a prison that keeps us on lock down, violating our peace and seeking to disrupt our connection to God.
At this point, we often drift into fight or flight mode. We may fight by seeking to control everyone and everything that we can because fear makes us feel out of control. Or we may go into flight mode and seek to find a means of escape (denial, fantasy, addiction).
How are you responding in this moment of global disruption? I truly believe Satan would love to cast a widespread net of fear. Will you be caught up in the wave of fear? Or will you allow God to sweep over you with His peace.
Scripture tells us: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirt of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)”; “Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:8)”; “Do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you by my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). These are just a few of God’s promises. It has been said that the Bible reminds us to “fear not” over 365 times.
That is at least promise to stand against fear for every day of the entire year. Perhaps God put so many promises and reminders of fear because He knew we would need them often. The Lord said it over and over again. He is the antidote to fear. The presence of Jesus and the promises of God are what will guard our hearts and minds in peace. Do not let fear take you hostage. Let the peace of Jesus be your guide and guard. And that’s the Word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church.
Contact him at david@weare community.church or 912-634-2960.