As we enter 2017, I am astonished about the level of fear and loathing among us.
I guess I shouldn’t be. It has been the theme of 2016.
The angst is palpable.
Many people fear the future. Fear based upon speculation and the unknown.
In an age where most media sources are proven to not be trusted, I cannot believe how many people base what they believe on biased information and on an agenda to be close minded… even though they claim to be open-minded and free thinkers. The internet is full of “fake news” sources, all designed to skew a person’s belief and perspective. It is intentional and calculated. And most of all… it is effective.
Many people base what they believe to be true based upon what they hear on a podcast or read on Facebook. Their news sources and range of perspective is narrow. Meaning that they are all listening to the same biased podcast or source. They believe that they, themselves are the smartest person they know or at least the smartest in the same room as them. Anyone who disagrees with them are considered unintelligent and ignorant.
Do these people ever consider that all they are doing is adding to the fear and loathing?
An example of this is the latest news story of “voter fraud” in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. I cannot tell you how many people were convinced that this was a “true” story. After Jill Stein raised over 7 million dollars (twice what she spent on her campaign) to do a recount in those states. We know the results of those re-counts… Trump actually gained votes over Clinton.
I could go on and on about all the different aspects of this past election year and the fear and loathing that is out there.
People are having a hard time with accepting the truth.
All of us have trouble accepting a difficult truth. It’s human nature to see what we want to see, especially when the truth makes us uneasy. But acknowledging and exploring the truth can liberate us and lead to greater opportunities.
One of the great challenges of life is just the simple task of living in this moment, living a “present tense life.” There are two great enemies of accepting truth. One is “the fantasy of what could have been,” and the other is “the fear of what might be.”
Let me address each one of these for a moment.
The fantasy of what could have been– We all live our lives looking back to the past or ahead to the future. It’s rare that we live in the present tense. One of our enemies is the “fantasy of what could have been.” We will often look with a longing for a change because of our present adversities…
“If only I had married the other person,” or “If only I had finished college,” or “If only I hadn’t made that horrible mistake” then life would be great.
Thoughts race to alternate present reality because of our dreams of “if only.” Dreaming about what could have been can be a wonderful diversion, but it’s ignorance of the reality of truth.
The truth is that there is no “if only.”
There is only what is.
Accepting truth’s that you don’t like is one of the hardest things to do.
Dreaming about an alternate life that would turn out different is a fantasy that brings nothing good to our present situation. It only makes the “now” harder because our fantasy solutions would have eliminated our real dilemmas and the need to trust the Lord with our real problems today.
When you are tempted to visit the land of “if only” make the decision not to go. It’s a trip that only brings disappointment to what is your life right now.
The fear of what might be– The other problem I see many struggle with is “the fear of what might be.” They are experts at worrying about something that hasn’t even happened yet. As it pertains to Donald Trump, he hasn’t even been sworn into office and people are wailing and predicting doom. It happened with Ronald Reagan too.
Those fears and impending doom never came to fruition.
If you are living in fear of Donald Trump… your faith is weak. You knowledge of the Bible is soft, or at least became soft. Do you really think that electing Trump as our President is a surprise to God?
There is no way any of us can see the future, so for us to worry about it before it ever gets here is a clear lack of faith in God to care for our tomorrows. It also shows that people have stopped reading their Bibles and have based their beliefs and perspectives on other sources.
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” Matthew 6:34
Jesus clearly said, “don’t worry about tomorrow.” He knew we were tempted to do this, and warned us against it. Fear of what might be often keeps us from walking with God and trusting him RIGHT NOW. We miss the joy of a walk with God in the present tense.
We each must live a present tense life intentionally. The distractions of fantasy about the past and fear about the future will easily get our attention away from a walk with the living God right now. I mentioned the word “walk” intentionally. It’s the word that the Bible uses to talk about our lives of faith. The Bible calls it a walk because there are some wonderful present tense elements to a walk that will help us stay focused on the now.
A walk demands a destination, but it can only be done one step at a time, one foot on the path toward the goal, one decision at a time to reach the goal. A walk demands a present tense life. That word, walk, often helps me get back to “now.”
That is why God implores us to keep our eye on and press towards the mark of following Christ. If you are so worried about the future, you obviously do not want to accept what the Bible says about the future. It’s in His hands. I cannot worry over that which I cannot control… those are the things I need to trust God that He has it under control.
As you go through each day of 2017, living your life and find yourself buying into the temptation toward fantasy or fear, stop for a moment. Focus on things that really matter and what you can do to control them. The balance is trust and dependence on God to take care of the rest.
It is then called having “Faith” and not fear and loathing.
I hope you truly have a great year and I hope that all of your fears are tempered by a loving God and that our faith grows deeper in Him each day.