Friday, July 8, 2016

Toxic Fear

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me
    to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
    it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
    yet I will be confident.
One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter
    in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
    he will lift me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up
    above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
    sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord. Psalm 27:1-6

We live, work, and try to raise our children in a world that supports a culture of toxic fear. We are systematically bombarded with stories that inspire fear. We eagerly click through to watch videos and read incendiary comments about people and events. Fear pushes us to hide away, to build walls, to build weapons. Fear keeps us from trusting and from loving. This toxic fear invades our thoughts and endangers our emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

Immersing ourselves in fear only proves to push us into actions that cause more fear. 

This fear leads to blame and ultimately, to hate.

Toxic fear creates an addiction to fear. We can’t get enough of it and the false sense of security brought on by our sad efforts to protect ourselves.

Toxic fear turns our hearts away from God. It convinces us that we are the only ones who can bring about our own safety. And fear leaves us with doubts about God. 

Instead of trusting in God we trust our own opinions, our perceptions, our arguments, our actions, and even our weapons. 

We fall victim to the false comfort found in memes such as "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Except -- for some good guys, their guns do not keep them safe.

Except -- some good guys with guns turn into bad guys.

Except -- as Christians we know that our sin guarantees that none of us is a good guy.

Except -- we are to put our trust in God, alone.

Toxic fear is a cruel liar.

It is not my intent to criticize gun ownership or the defense of the Second Amendment. It is simply my intent to remind myself that we cannot rely on guns, or politics, or money, or philosophy, or intellect, or armies, or anything of this world to save us.

Only God saves us. Only God protects us. Only God loves us with a perfect love.

So what do we do when faced with fear?

First, we repent. We repent of our lack of trust. We repent of our fear and our hatred. We stop making assumptions about the guilt of another and focus on our own. We beg for forgiveness and ask for God’s help. We turn to the Word and Sacraments, admitting our complete and enduring helplessness.

Second, we learn to praise God for His love, His salvation, and His protection. We tell Satan we have no room for toxic fear in our lives.

Third, we rightly fear God and in this fear we seek to serve Him. We ask Him to use us to stop encouraging fear, and instead work on the side that seeks to stamp it out.

Everything we need to survive this world is found in Him.

Serve the Lord with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling. Psalm 2:11

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14 

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