I was listening to one of the news channels on TV the other day. Their outlook for our economy and our country overall was bleak, to say the least. Then the news shifted to world events. By the time they were through, my heartbeat had accelerated and I could feel my lungs pushing against my ribs! The fear being promoted by every major news outlet is causing a lot of anxiety. And anxiety, worries, and fear transfer quickly.
Does anyone remember the children’s story about Chicken Little? You may know the name as Henny Penny, or Chicken Licken (not to be confused with “Finger-licken” from Kentucky Fried Chicken). Chicken Little was a terrified little chicken convinced that the sky was falling and that life as we—or at least as chickens—know it, was over.
It appears that the world around us is full of Chicken Littles.
Fear and worry can be debilitating factors in every area of our lives. There is no doubt that we live in uncertain times, but the times are always uncertain. The economy, the instability of foreign governments, the increase of natural disasters, and the fear of contracting an unknown virus are all major uncertainties that we must cope with. We are all paddling in the same creek and the question is, how do we keep from losing the paddles and capsizing the canoe?
Our Heavenly Father knows us intimately. This may be why there are so many verses in the Bible that speak of fear (not!) and anxiety, and how we can overcome them. 1 Peter 5:7 comes to mind (as well as a dozen others):
Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.– 1 Peter 5:7
It is so comforting to truly know and believe that Yahweh God cares for us and is always with us, even in the direst circumstances.
Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with my [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.– Isaiah 41:10
A few years back, Bobby McFerrin had a pop-hit song entitled, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” One of the lines in this song states, “In every life we have some trouble. When you worry you make it double. Don’t worry. Be happy.” Worry doubles down on trouble.
It is easy to worry when surrounded with uncertainty, and everybody around you, even though they are six feet away, stares at you with fearful eyes – the same look I get from my wife when we are both reaching for the last cookie on the plate! A worrisome mind can breed a negative attitude, and it’s easy to adopt and feed this negative attitude – but there are serious consequences in doing so.
Negativity can waste valuable time and resources. It can affect your health…negatively! In addition, focusing on the negative will contribute to its power. Just like a rotten apple can spoil the other apples in the basket, a worrisome, negative attitude will absolutely influence your thoughts and actions in a way that will not serve you well.
A cheerful heart is a good cure, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.– Proverbs 17:22
It is well-known that broken emotions and attitudes such as depression, anxiety, or a negative attitude can cause all kinds of physical problems; in contrast, a cheerful heart can cure many bodily ailments.
What to do?
If you find yourself being affected by the circumstances that surround you, it is time to get back to the basics. In practically every endeavor in life, when you get off track it is usually because you have veered away from the basic tenets of what you learned. Get back to right thinking in those areas that have caused you to be anxious. Truth illuminates your mind and frees you from the shackles of fear.
It’s one thing to be concerned about situations we face, but worry is concern gone awry. As I heard Rev. Tony Evans say, “Concern you own; worry owns you. Concern is legitimate; worry is illegitimate. If you find yourself beginning to worry, God tells us to go bird-watching.”
Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater [in quality] than food, and the body [far above and more excellent] than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they?– Matthew 6:25-26
Turn your eyes upon Jesus and bask in his love for you. Without him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). It won’t take long to get back on track spiritually. But you are a three-fold being, so you must care for the body and mind as well.
Cultivate a positive mind-set. Infuse energy and enthusiasm into what you do. Be mindful of the words you use—they are powerful tools that not only influence you, but can influence others as well. Choose healthy habits and adopt a healthy lifestyle. I just recently started an exercise regimen. I was feeling down, sluggish and tired. Now I feel rejuvenated. It’s easier to maintain a good attitude when you feel good, mentally and physically.
Surround yourself with positive influences – the movies you watch, the music you listen to and the people you hang with. These are called influences because they influence your life, your thoughts and your actions (duh!).
It’s your choice. You decide. Some people just can’t help themselves—negativity is their norm. But it is so much easier to paddle in the creek of life when you can keep paddling forward and enjoy the journey. Amen.