WITH COURAGE

We live in a world that is dark, ugly, and full of tragedy. It’s everywhere. What’s more – it’s always been that way. But with the advent of technology and the pursuit of science, we are far more aware than we have ever been – able to slink into the lives of African villages and relentless genocide all the way to the crevices of our own cell structures.

You’d think this kind of knowledge would be freeing, exacting, and giving us our drive to pursue a better world and a better self. Instead, we find ourselves afraid. Fearful.

Perhaps not so much cowering in our homes, but in our hearts.

For me, the very definition of fear is being alone in the middle of the night- awake and aware. It’s the tension of knowing too much and knowing too little. Fear is the nightmare that has our feet permanently entrenched in the ground as a great big ‘something’ closes in on us. We know it’s coming – but we don’t even know what ‘it’ is. And clearly, as our hearts beat rapidly and the adrenaline pumps through us – there’s nowhere for us to hide. We can’t move.

Realistically, fear takes its shape in many forms. Nuclear Weapons. Impending War. Disease. Presidential Candidates. Federal Laws. WebMD. Loneliness. Failure. Purposelessness. Poverty. Worry. Death.  

And so we lock our doors and isolate ourselves. We avoid, blame, and scapegoat. We sign petitions, join protests, and post controversial Facebook statuses. We go out and buy guns, learn how to shoot, and get certified to carry and conceal. We vote in those who we believe can ban assault rifles and we ask for stricter laws. We medicate. We shut our phones off, go outside, and pretend that all is well. We pray. We vote. We abandon our faith. We abide by all the rules. We become apathetic. Or we become enraged. We don’t take risks. We become reckless. We rely on ourselves. We lose hope. We send money. We volunteer.

Fear is potent and contagious. It’s also unavoidable. We see it as we scroll through Instagram, read the newspaper, and experience all the commentary on click-bait articles invading our Facebook feed. We hear it preached to us from all parties of the government and even from the pulpits of our churches. Fear is the ultimate artillery and its main purpose is to kill, steal, and destroy. Often, we don’t even recognize how deeply entrenched fear is within our society, our responses, and ourselves.

But friends, we have the choice. We don’t have to partake in fear.  

We don’t have to buy into this product that the world, and more significantly- the enemy, is peddling. Fear quickly becomes an addictive self-fulfilling prophecy. And that’s largely the problem – fear is a constant focus on ourselves. People who are limited, flawed, and divided. People who live fundamentally on hindsight. People who have lost all sense of who they are, who they come from, and to whom they belong.

Fear is a by-product of mistaken identity and of mistaken citizenship. We are not people of this world; we are people of God, and of His kingdom. When we are able to identify that our home is not here – the problems of this world no longer define us, but embolden us. We’re no longer sinking with the ship, but walking on water. We’re anchored to something that will not whittle away, but that is everlasting and eternal. Simply put, because He offers us freedom, there is no room for fear.

Maybe it’s time to shut the computer off, put the phone down, and recycle the newspaper- just for a little bit. Because it seems that instead of opening our bibles to remind ourselves of who we are, we’re turning to our flickering screens that just reflect who we once were.

God gave His one and only son to extinguish fear. And we, instead of reveling in the hope that came with His sacrifice - are fanning the flames. In order for us to conquer fear, we must remember that it’s already been conquered. The world is a dark, ugly, and tragic place but we carry within us the light to move forward, not in fear – but with courage.