The subject of fear was on my radar last week. Every way I turned, I was reading about fear or listening to a podcast that dealt with fear. Even as I sat in Life Group on Sunday morning the subject of fear was laced throughout our lesson.
When I awoke Monday morning to find out about the tragedy in Las Vegas all the fear input came rushing back to my mind. I watched as people were interviewed regarding their experience. They told of the moments when the gunfire started and fear was evident in their faces and their voices.
I can’t imagine how scary it must have been to have been in that crowd trying to find cover and wondering what to do as bullets ricocheted around you.
We live in a world where fear is a way of life. We are broken people living in the midst of a broken world. We long for peace and we hold to hope, but in our hearts we struggle with fear.
Brene Brown, a social scientist, talks about fear and how it has changed us. “The ultimate goal of both global and domestic terrorism is to conduct strikes that embed fear so deeply in the heart of a community that fear becomes a way of life. This unconscious way of living then fuels so much anger and blame that people start to turn on one another. Terrorism is most effective when we allow fear to take root in our culture. Then it’s only a matter of time before we become fractured, isolated, and driven by our perceptions of scarcity.” Brene goes on to say that terrorism is not the only thing that can create these fears, shootings and attacks against groups of people also serve to fuel the fire of fear.
So here we sit again in the same place we have been on too many occasions: fearful, concerned, traumatized, and wondering when the madness will stop. While the flags are flying at half-mast and the story receives 24-hour coverage on the news, fear is growing.
Where do we find comfort? Who has the answer? What do we do now?
I am glad I am not confused about who can comfort our hearts during this time of great tragedy and fear. As I open my Bible I find that fear is not a new concept born out of a generation of terrorism. Instead, it is as old as time itself and God has given us a way to find peace in the midst of our fears and brokenness.
The Bible is filled with people who also experienced fear. When we first meet Gideon he is hiding in a wine press. In Joshua chapter one we find the new leader of Israel looking over the promised land in fear. Peter denied he even knew Jesus at all because he was afraid they would crucify him as well. Real people with real fears that affected their lives and their daily decisions.
Scripture teaches that God gives a peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7). This means that when everything around us indicates we should be panicking in fear God can give a calm that is beyond reason. He never promises to remove all the instigators of our fear but instead promises us a peace in the midst of the chaos.
Romans 8 reminds us that even in the midst of brokenness, nothing can separate the child of God from his Father. No amount of tragedy or hardship can keep God from doing His work in our lives and in this world. Because we are more than conquerors through Him. Because of His incredible love, there is nothing that cannot be overcome.
We want answers for Las Vegas and the precious people who lost loved ones and who suffered injury both physically and mentally. But at the end of the day, answers are hard to find. There are some things that can’t be explained on a chart or mapped out on a psychological evaluation. So people start to cast blame on anything and everything. Sadly the blame game only brings isolation and more wounds.
So what is the answer?
As a person who believes that Jesus is the answer for this broken world, I have to exert my faith into situations where fear longs to dominate. I have to listen to those in the community around me and lean into the conversation with the power of the truths that I know from God’s Word.
Out of all the things God has been teaching me about fear in the past weeks, the verses from Joshua 1:6-9 have stuck to my heart and mind in a powerful way. I shortened them and put them in my own words so I could quote them each day.
Be strong and courageous because God is going to do what he promised he would do.
Only be strong and very courageous; be obedient to do what you know is right and you will find success. Meditate on God’s Word and you will find your way to be a prosperous one.
Be strong and courageous! Don’t tremble or be discouraged because God is with you everywhere in all things.
In these few verses, I find the secret of success in dealing with a world gone mad. I find the recipe for living with a peaceful heart while turmoil rages around me –and the key surprises me. Peace is not the absence of fear in my life but instead the presence of courage. When courage steps in fear’s affects on me change. I am no longer a slave to the emotional carnage that comes with fear, but instead I am a conqueror, a warrior, I am strong, and confident in the God I serve. I am supported by His ability not my own.
The spiritual essence of who we are is not found in ourselves. It will not be conjured up by ritual or ambiance. Our healing is not found in the clearing our minds of all noise but instead with the filling of our minds with all truth. Our peace is found outside of ourselves and is in Christ.
It’s not in our relationship with our church or our pastor. It is not found in weekly pep rallies where we get our worship on. Peace is found in the personal relationship I have with Jesus Christ. He is Jehovah Shalom — the God of Peace. His very essence is peace. So as I connect with Him in a way that is real and authentic I find in Him the peace my soul craves.
When I am afraid I lean into this relationship with full assurance knowing that even if the chaos doesn’t disappear I can have peace. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
Article by Reba Bowman
Brown, Brene. Braving the Wilderness. pp. 56-57