The Worry Monster

As I sit here doing social distancing and writing blogs and devotional content, I’m fully aware of one thing:  it is a strange time to be alive.  In 40+ years on this Earth, there have been some big moments in my life:  The fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain.  The events of 9/11 and the war with Iraq/Afghanistan that followed.  The rise and fall of the economy…booming in the 1980s and bottoming out in the 2000s.  But I’m not sure if any of it will top the events that we are living through right now.  The effects and fallout of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will be felt for years.  This indeed will be a paragraph (or more) in the history books.  What we are going through right now, is of monumental proportions…it’s hard to even wrap our minds around it while we are in the midst of it. 

I had wanted to write this blog topic for awhile now.  Before any of this, I wanted to write some sort of response to a society that constantly is worried about what lurks next around the corner.  In this pandemic, we have certainly seen what lurks and it looms large in our minds daily.  But even before we got here, we were a people caught up in fear and easily panicked; spooked by the unknown.  I’ve written a bit in the past about our response as Christians to worry and doubt (The Letters To The Hurting series Part 1, 2, 3, and 4).  But I sense many Christians are as caught up in the uncertainty of things as much as the unbelieving world around us.  We have to be men and women willing to set a different precedent today. 

What I’d like to do in this blog is address “the worry monster.”  As kids we used to worry about what might be under the bed or in the closet as we slept.  We often would run to mom or dad for assurance in the dark; to know all would be ok.  You and I must know we have a Heavenly Father we run to when we are scared and worried.  He always watches over us, is always there for us, and wants us to live in a manner set apart and distinct from this world.  Let’s dig in. 

1.  The world is addicted to worry 

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.  Romans 8:6 

As I set out to write this blog, some key points came rather quickly.  But I hesitated to include this first point because I questioned whether or not I truly believed it.  But as I look more and more around me, I see it as true.  We are addicted to worry.  It’s a weird addiction and not one that happens over night.  But it develops over a lifetime, as we spend lives lived in chaos going from one devastating experience to the next.  In so doing, we prove that we actually crave and desire turmoil rather than a life of peace and simplicity (and when I say “we” I am referring to society as a whole). 
Why do news channels with sensational stories continue to feature, day after day seemingly more over-the-top news?  Because we watch it.  We give them a “vote” with our viewing habits to say “I choose to want to see and hear this.”  Why does a recent poll claim that one-third of Americans believe they will die from Coronavirus (Poll: One-Third Of Americans Fear They Will Die From Contracting Coronavirus)?  Because we’ve been sucked into the alarm that this is the worst possible thing and we will not survive it.  We’ve been told we should be afraid and we are simply obeying that mantra because it has been repeated over and over again. 

2.  Fear has no place in Christ 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 

After setting the groundwork for what we are up against (a fear-based society), we have to go back and reexamine how we are to live in Christ.  Ultimately, this is a process of setting our eyes on things above and not being fixated upon what we see around us.  I would love for us as Christians to put a verse like 1 John 4:18 on every visible surface as we go through the day:  the bathroom mirror, above the coffeepot, on the car dashboard, on our nightstand…everywhere.  Because we must realize Christ’s love drives out the fear we have.  It doesn’t mean we don’t have feelings of fear.  But when we are afraid, His love rushes in to comfort and assure us…like that father tucking the child back into bed letting him or her know the monster isn’t there. 
If we are struggling in this time to really be at rest and at peace, we must go back to the cross and reaffirm Who Christ is and the work He has done.  We celebrate Easter in just a few days.  What a time to both look at the fires burning around the world and in contrast, the hope that the cross gives!  The cross is Christ’s chief display of love.  It is the point where, in the midst of what He was feeling, He put under the fear of the unknown and stepped forward.  This love casts out fear.  The two cannot coexist within the same person because once the Holy Spirit enters, we trust that God is with us and we know He will strengthen us. 

3.  We must choose faith over fear 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1 

Faith is unseen. We have hope and we have trust; often because of what God has done (whether personally or what His word shows us).  But much of what we cling to is the unseen, the not yet, the still to come. Fear in many ways is seen. By that I mean, what we do see leads us to be afraid. An alarming statistic, a shocking photo or video, a troubling post.  But even beyond that, much of fear is also based in the unseen. The what if’s and worst-case scenarios of life.  The unknowns of just how bad things could get.  As Christians, we are called to a higher way of life. One that chooses faith over fear on a regular basis. 
You see, we are reminded that although faith is this unseen process, it really is something that walks alongside us and lives within us as we navigate life.  There are many people today that are turning to Scripture, to church, and to believers because their fear consumes them.  They want an answer.  They want something solid and concrete and they see a hope in some that they do not have.  As we choose faith over fear, we are telling an unbelieving world despite whatever happens, God is in control.  Despite how this ends, we know how it all ends.  And the Bible is clear:  if we are in Christ, we go to live with Him in eternity. 

Guys I had not intended to write this article for this week. I had something else completely written, scheduled, and ready to post.  But I felt God saying that this is a message needed right now and to withhold it for a couple more weeks might miss a window of opportunity.  So I know the worry monster is on our minds even as I type this and even a few days from now when it actually goes out.  I know that His timing is perfect and I pray His anointing over these words. 

As Christians, we have a great opportunity placed before us.  Perhaps a harvest in our lifetime that we’ve never seen before.  Perhaps another Great Awakening.  Maybe this is all a precursor to the End Times.  I don’t know.  But I know we’re called to be ready and stand firm.  We can’t do that if we’re locked up in fear.  We pray daily for God to grant His peace and we leave the unknowns up to Him.  In exchange for our fear, He gives us His love and He gives us His very presence.  Turn off the TV, the internet, the social media today and just spend some time with Him.  Let His love wash over you once again.  And then hear His heartbeat for what He wants to do through you during this time. 

I love you guys!  Let me know how I can be praying for you today! 

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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Ephesians 5:15-17