How to Live at Peace in Fearful Times
I showed my two younger daughters the movie E.T. for the first time the other night. It was a sweet 80s memory of mine. They enjoyed it….and then they slept with every light in their room ON. The things that terrify us in youth often become funny or quaint in adulthood.
It is a matter of perspective, right?
Sadly, we are living in a time of mass fear, which makes it more difficult to gain perspective and find peace. Some of us were already feeling anxious or overwhelmed with everyday life. But now, the general push in our society is toward being afraid ALL. THE. TIME.
The rhetoric is “Be afraid of what the government is doing, or not doing. Be afraid of disease and people who carry it. Be afraid about the economy. Be afraid of the comments others make. Be afraid for your very future.”
And I want to say this as explicitly as I can. Your future is secure. My future is secure, if we believe in Jesus. Period.
No one else gets to decide our future or how we feel about it. I say this bluntly because sometimes we don’t recognize that our reactions to information or media or friends’ conversations is really a fear response. It’s not coming from a place of peace but unrest. Everyone is doing the fear thing so it seems normal. Everyone is freaking out, so that must mean that we need to freak out.
Our fears are often lying to us.
Not always, but often. Fear can be a helpful warning when there is real danger. And yes, we should be prudent about the virus. But if we are living chest-deep in fear day in and day out, we are acquiescing to a burden we were not meant to carry.
You might say, “Angie, this is actually a scary time.” And it is a time of uncertainty and pains. I will not discount the difficulties, but neither will I discount what God can and will do.
I think that the crazier the world around us gets, the more God is calling us into rest. He’s saying, “Come all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. I’ve got it right here, friend.”
We are not to live with our heads in the sand, so what does it look like practically to be at rest when the world feels crazy?
1. When we live at peace, we are listening to what God says and thinks as much or more as we listen to other sources.
There is a lot of truth being spoken right now, for example, truth about racial injustices that exist in the United States. This is a good thing. But if I am only filling my mind with what people think, it is easy for my perspective to become skewed, for my heart to turn bitter or cynical, for my hope to dwindle.
God’s word is always saying to us, “Yes, and…” It doesn’t deny the truth but it speaks hope into darkness. It encourages us to keep going, and in the right spirit. Our world doesn’t need more angry people that just tear others down. It needs bridge builders who operate in righteous anger and make a positive impact.
We do need to know what’s going on in the world but we need to receive it through the lens of His heavenly, all powerful perspective. That will make all the difference in how we feel about it, process it, and respond to it. We can’t control everything going on in our world, but we can respond in a Godly way.
2. When we live at peace, we balance out the active and restful parts of our lives.
A life with two much inaction tends to become lazy and apathetic. But a life that is all going and doing tends to burn out, the emotions frayed. We become less effective over time if we live this way. We have to find balance and not beat ourselves up or make excuses for resting appropriately.
3. When we live at peace, we give off peacefulness, wherever we go.
Here is a measuring stick for us (gulp). Are we giving off peace wherever we go? Is it overflowing to our families and friends and online spaces? We can be truthful and blunt and angry about things going on in our world, but are we spreading light wherever our words and our feet go? This one is hitting me hard, because I have been a heavy presence in my home lately.
Take a moment for self-inventory. Are my thoughts and reactions rooted in peace, or are they rooted in fear of what’s to come? Is there need for me to re-center my mind on God’s perspective this week?
A few easy ways to shift perspective this week-
- Spend time in the Bible each day before reading the news
- Stop and pray over each thing that comes to mind that causes fear or stress, release it to God, instead of worrying over it
- Cut back on sources that cause mental stress
- Listen to news sources that are Biblically-based and trustworthy on the topics you care about
- Take some time to be still and quiet this week