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Feed your faith to starve your fear

Feed your faith to starve your fear

I am not by nature a fearful or anxious person. I’ve lived through a cholera epidemic and severe deficits in the former Soviet Union. In fact, you couldn’t buy toilet paper so folks used old newspapers.

I’ve gone into places like Kosovo during the war to provide relief. Over my life I have tended to run toward danger and risk. But this pandemic has rocked my world. There’s so much uncertainty about this crisis which breeds fear and worry.

There’s no denying that fear and anxiety have increased. Is it possible to control our fear and even eliminate anxiety? We remember Franklin D. Roosevelt’s words during World War II: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” The truth of his words have endured.

Lingering fear is ultimately a choice. It is also a choice to not allow fear to linger. That’s why the Bible commands us not to fear. A well circulated adage tells us there are over 365 “fear not’s” in the Bible, one for every day of the year.

We see this played out one day when the disciples of Jesus were on the lake in a storm. They were terrified in every way. We are in a storm today as well. The wind and waves are hitting us from all sides. Then Jesus approached the boat and said these words: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:27). Jesus is walking with us. He has not abandoned us in this storm. He is with us so we can take courage in him, both in life and death itself.

Jud Wilhite, a pastor in Las Vegas during the mass shooting in 2017, said recently that in a storm we have to intentionally feed our faith to starve our fear.

Fear will not just disappear on its own. Rather we have to proactively feed our faith so that our faith can drive out the fear.

How do we feed our faith in times of social isolation? We can’t go to church, but church has come to us. Most churches are now live streaming on Sundays and there are tons of great videos on YouTube and more. Listen to good podcasts about faith.

Now is an opportunity to up your time in Bible reading. There’s no better way to feed your faith. Don’t wait for your pastor or priest to read it to you. Start in the Psalms. More than ever, you have time to read inspirational books related to faith.

Finally, be intentional about making time to practice gratitude. Every day I take time to sit in what I call my ‘gratitude chair’ out in my backyard. Daily I sit there to reflect on all the good that God has provided in my life in the midst of the storm of loss and disruption. It’s amazing what this one simple thing does every day to drive out fear.

Also be intentional to eliminate the channels that feed your fear. One of the main “channels” of fear these days is an over intake of cable and network news. If you’re binging on news, I’ll guarantee that will feed your fear. Watch or read enough to stay abreast, but just don’t immerse yourself in it.

Finally, the famous Psalm 23:4 reminds us to feed our faith to starve our fear, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

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