Fear. It's like it's always there, just below the surface, stalking our every move through the day. When times are good and all seems well with the world, we don't think about fear too much - it leaves us alone, and we live our lives. However, when the world (whether global or just our personal world) collapses, fear pounces. It attacks us, it corners us, it pins us down. We're in fear's grip, as our pastor recently said.
As a follower of Jesus, I believe that this world is more than just the physical - there is a spiritual dimension. This spiritual dimension includes both God-loving and God-hating elements. With this in mind, a point I want to make is this: regardless of whether Satan or God or just the natural flow of things on Earth have caused the current crisis our world is in, Satan is actively trying to use it to his advantage and to the destruction of people around the world.
How do we know what Satan is up to in the world? Here are a few things we find in scripture:
- He is "prowling around .. seeking someone to devour" - 1 Peter 5:8
- He is the "father of lies" - John 8:44
- He wants to keep people from seeing the light and glory of God - 2 Corinthians 4:4
- He has "the power of death" - Hebrews 2:14
- He is constantly trying to scheme and deceive us - 2 Corinthians 2:11, Ephesians 6:11-12, 2 Corinthians 11:14
So knowing a bit more about Satan's intentions, I believe that he absolutely wants to use the current overwhelming fear and anxiety stretching across our world to try and destroy as many of us as he can. We've all experienced fear before, and if we think about it, we know it has the power to cripple us, to paralyze us, and to block our view of God. Satan hates God and tries his best to stop humanity (the part of creation made in God's image) from living in a relationship with God.
Fear is a weapon of the enemy. He attacks us with this weapon in a variety of ways - to silence us, to turn us against each other, and to torment us.
Before we go any further, please know that acknowledging that fear is a weapon of the enemy and is not from God, does not mean that there isn't cause to be afraid. Life is often difficult, dangerous, and anxiety-inducing. A lot of times fear is not just someone "blowing something out of proportion." We live in a broken world. The dangers and stresses of life are very real, and they naturally lead to a response of fear and anxiety. God doesn't try to minimize our pain, heartache, and fear - He's not offering us solutions that "won't really work in the real world." God is reaching out to us as the only One who can truly conquer fear - the very real, raw, crushing, deadly fear that we face.
I personally struggle the most with fear whenever my mind is fixated on what I have to lose in this world, instead of what I have already gained from God - both in this world and for all eternity. As Christians, we are called to rise above our fears and fight against this weapon of Satan on others' behalf. Our Heavenly Father has granted us a relationship with Him and eternal security (not to mention all that we need to live here on Earth). We have every reason to heed Jesus' constant urging: "Fear not, I am with you" (Isaiah 41:10).
As Jesus-followers, what is our place in the current state of the world? How do we respond to the weapon of fear? What are we supposed to do as this physical and spiritual battle is raging around us? Let's begin with more scripture:
- God did not give us a spirit of fear - Romans 8:15-17, 2 Timothy 1:7
- God doesn't want us to be anxious about anything, not even things as serious as food or clothing - Matthew 6:25-33, Philippians 4:6-7
- God gives us peace and commands us to not be afraid - John 14:27, Luke 12:4-7
We have to realize and accept that we are in a battle, that Satan is on the attack, and that Jesus has called us as His church to fight for His glory and others' salvation. When we can't see that truth, or when Satan is paralyzing us with fear, we are missing opportunities to shine light and hope into the darkness and carry people to Jesus. When we don't take our own personal fight against the darkness seriously, we can't be there for the people around us who need the hope we have.
What good are we as Christians if we can't offer hope and peace and strength in the midst of the chaos? How can we offer those things to a terrified world if we are just as stuck and terrified as everyone else?
We have to fight.
This does not mean we aren't empathetic and compassionate. Acknowledging that we do feel fear, joining with people in their pain, and not minimizing the realities of this world are hugely important things - but we have to fight.
"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm." - Ephesians 6:10-13
We have a mission (Matthew 28:18-20). God has given us all of the strength and weaponry that we need to do battle against the enemy - both for our own peace in God, and for the hope of the people of this world. He himself is with us through the Holy Spirit. Don't let Satan lie to you, scare you, or otherwise convince you that you shouldn't have your eyes completely fixed on Jesus right now, and your mind focused on God's plan for the world.
Again, we have to fight.
Need some ammunition to fight back the fear and go on the offensive?
- Your praise to God is a weapon - Acts 16:25-34
- Your prayer to God is a weapon - Mark 9:29, James 5:14-16
- Your faith in God is a weapon - James 1:2-18
- Your knowledge of God's word is a weapon - Ephesians 6:16-18
You can decide for yourself how much time is healthy for you to spend on social media or reading the news or watching the markets in these times, but don't let those be the primary things you're consuming. Use music, conversation, or nature to give all praise to God daily. Pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Truly know and digest God's truth in your heart, then boldly step out in faith when God gives you an opportunity to speak into the fear your family, friends, and coworkers are feeling.
Don't let Satan take you out. There is work to be done. Remember that Jesus has not changed (Hebrews 13:8), He is still in control - you can take your fears directly to Him. Let Him fill you up and change your perspective. Let's find our faith, find our courage, and stand strong as the Church of Jesus in the middle of the panic - offering as much help and hope as we can to everyone around us.
*All scripture in ESV.