Do you feel the world is broken?
Do you feel the shadows deepen?
These opening lines from Andrew Peterson’s song “Is He Worthy?” leave many of us wanting to shout “We do!” We do feel the world is broken. We do feel the shadows deepen. We feel it as a pandemic rages around us. We feel it as natural disasters ravage our lives. We feel it as political tensions dominate our communities. And we eventually find ourselves living in fear.
According to a Pew Research study, 69% of Americans fear that state governments have eased restrictions too soon amid the pandemic. In May, 83% of Americans said they were concerned that lifting restrictions in their area would lead to additional COVID-19 infections. Fear of this virus is real, and it rages all around us. Is it okay to go to the grocery store or give a friend a hug or travel for the holidays? The things that so many of us used to do without worry are now sources of sometimes intense fear.
On top of the pandemic that seems to keep dragging on is a U.S. presidential election that has consumed media and conversation and been the source of high tensions across the country. A report from the American Psychological Association last month found that 68% of adults said that the 2020 U.S. presidential election was a significant source of stress. This is driven not only by fears of whether their candidate will win but also by fears surrounding filling out absentee ballots correctly, intimidation at the polls, and election violence in the days following the election.
How should the church respond to such fear?
We should be reminded that Scripture speaks to our fears. Fear should not be a taboo subject in the church. Jesus is not intimidated by our fear. Instead, he recognizes our fear (Matt. 10:28) and invites us to come to him (Matt. 11:28). And Paul reminds Timothy regarding his calling as Christ’s ambassador, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7). Our fears are real, but we are not alone. As followers of Christ, we are equipped with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Whatever you’re afraid of in this moment, remember that Jesus is bigger (1 John 4:4), and he will sustain you.
In our battle against fear, we should be honest in acknowledging that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:2). The enemy wants to use fear to lead us away from trusting in Christ, but fear is not the victor of this story. Those who are in Christ are no longer slaves to sin or fear. Instead, we are children of God called to righteousness (Rom. 6:16-18).
But what do we do with the very real fear we are experiencing right now? What does it look like for us to surrender our fears to the Lord and rest in him? How do we live in the righteousness God has called us to when we can find reasons to fear all around us? Perhaps this could be a starting place for us:
- Stop doomscrolling. Doomscrolling is “the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing.” Set up app limits on your phone to help you cut back on the time that you spend on social media, or set aside periods of the day to do something you enjoy without checking social media or the news.
- Live in community. As members of the body of Christ, we are called to live in community. For some, that may look different in this season of COVID-19, but nonetheless, we should be faithful in seeking biblical community for the building up of the body of Christ. In community, we find diversity in thought and giftings, which God uses to bring hope and healing and ultimately his own glory (Eph. 4:1-16).
- Delight in the Lord. Be faithful to spend some time each day reading Scripture and praying. We were created for relationship with our Creator. Delight in him, and allow him to shape the desires of your heart (Psa. 37:4).
- Be still. And know that he is God. He will be exalted among the nations and in all the earth (Ps. 46:10). Trust that the sovereign creator of heaven and earth is still on the throne. None of our fears change who God is. He will be glorified even if our worst fears come true.
- Seek counseling. As we navigate fear, we sometimes experience hurting that we don’t know how to navigate alone but that we know we want to grow through. Seeking a professional counselor can be a step toward light and restoration.
As believers we are called to know Christ, trust in him, and make him known. Any fear—whether that be COVID-19 or a political election or anything else—that is stopping us from pursuing Christ and living to glorify him can be used by the enemy to dishonor our faithful God. Instead, cling to the Father (Psa. 91). Whatever you’re afraid of in this moment, remember that Jesus is bigger (1 John 4:4), and he will sustain you.
God spoke through the prophet Isaiah with a message about his character that is still true today, saying, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10). The fear that we may be experiencing is real, but it has no power over us. God calls us to rest in him. He is the one who is our refuge and strength in the midst of uncertainty (Psa. 46:1). Even though we feel that the world is broken and see the shadows deepen, we will not fear because we know that our God will be exalted (Psa. 46:10).