Four tools for practicing the presence of
God in a fear based world
During these long days of coronavirus, fear seems to be a constant companion. I have noticed recently how much my fear is exacerbated by what I see on social media. I hear so many fearful voices on the internet screaming: The coronavirus is a conspiracy theory! Wear a mask! Don't wear a mask! Democrats are (blank)! Republicans are (blank)! It seems that we are being collectively united and divided at the same time through the coronavirus, upcoming elections, acts of violence on innocent blood (insert a whole list here), and natural disasters.
How's this impacting your mood? How does this affect how you listen to the Holy Spirit?
Many of us have had the time to think more than usual about what we might feel is lacking in our lives. The stresses of the coronavirus and political upheaval simply compound our existing fears. On a more personal level, how are you doing? If you are single, do you fear never finding a spouse? Do you just feel like it's never going to happen? For the couple who is struggling with infertility, how is that negative pregnancy test affecting you? Has the fear of feeling like you're never going to get pregnant heightened? For the parents who feel overwhelmed with not knowing what to do since the virus hit, where's your fear residing? Whatever you are experiencing in this moment, God invites you with the Savior who empathizes, and takes on our fear. Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). The Bible is saturated with stories where the Lord tells His people to not fear.
"The stresses of the coronavirus and political upheaval simply compound our existing fears."
Here are some tools for our anxious hearts in this season:
Meditate on God's word
I want to start with the most essential tool first, the Bible. This is how we learn about who God is, and what He wants to say to us. The Bible shows us how much He cares about what we fill our minds and hearts with. God knows our fear based tendencies, that's why so much of scripture is reminding us to "not fear." Given all the chaos that surrounds us, we might feel like God has left. Meditate on scripture that reminds you of God's presence and sovereignty:
"Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?" Psalm 139:7
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled." John 14:27
"When I am afraid I put my trust in you." Psalm 56:3
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing." Psalm 23:1
If you begin to feel overwhelmed and angry by everything that is happening globally, and personally, rest in God's word. Allow for a pause to take effect in your spirit to abide in scripture. That's why God has given it to us. He loves you.
Suggestions: One of the benefits of technology is accessibility. There are some great apps out there like "Dwell" that allow you to listen to scripture at any point of the day. There's a great Podcast called, "Slo" which leads you into guided prayer through scripture. Highly recommend!
I love podcasts. It is a great aid while I clean the house, or run errands. However, I can tend to neglect stillness of spirit when I'm constantly listening to something. It can also lead to not listening to the Holy Spirit. Silence can bring peace to your fear because outside sources aren't clouding judgment. Silence can be a blessing in a loud world. It can nourish parts of your being that you didn't know needed healing. At the same time, we can use noise to unhealthily mask our fears. What are some loud areas in your life that need silence? It doesn't have to be audible noise. Trust God with your silence. God creates space in our stillness to silence fear, even though our flesh craves to suppress the fear with noise. In what ways are you suppressing fear with noise?
"Trust God with your silence."
"And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever." Isaiah 32:17
God created us for community because the Trinity is communal. Community provides encouragement, and refreshment when our internal well is dry. It's also beneficial to speak out fears to trusted friends so that they can provide godly wisdom and peace into your life. God allows us to be a mouthpiece for one another so that His voice can be heard. Community also provides laughter! Fears can be diminished when there's joy in the room. For some, it's a season of loneliness, and community seems out of reach. I have walked in seasons of great loneliness, and it seems so hopeless. Press into prayer, and know that the Lord is at work in you during this season.
Fast Social Media
Lastly, I wanted to speak on the subject of social media. Social media can be a great facilitator in staying connected with friends and family. It can also be damaging to our mind and spirit. We are created for so much more than scrolling on a screen all day. Are we designed to be inundated with tons of information all at once? I noticed that I began feeling more overwhelmed, and anxious as I began to notice my unhealthy social media habits. The Lord calls us to guard our hearts against the schemes of Satan, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10)." Jesus wants us to live in abundance through the work of the cross. Do you leave more filled up after spending more time on social media or more drained? It seems social media has created an even bigger divide towards one other, and that's exhausting. Do you notice that you get more angry after seeing a post that goes against your political view? Again, that's exhausting, I know first hand.
"We are created for so much more than scrolling on a screen all day."
God has given us a responsibility to be stewards over our politics, and various systems set in place in society. However, He is the ultimate source of these areas, and leaning into His heart will overflow into these matters. As we journey through this unusual time together, may we rest in knowing all things are held together by our Maker.
"For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him (Colossians 1:16)."