Dave Ramsey, financial common-sense advocate, on his radio program recently said that “the same region of your brain that causes someone to become addicted to pornography causes them to become addicted to fear.” This is why fear sells better than hope. Fear drives up ratings and profits. It does so because once we get that dopamine hit, we want another. Therefore, we keep coming back to every night. This fear then becomes a driving force behind our actions, our decisions, and our thoughts. We begin to live life based on what might happen instead of what is happening. God’s people were never meant to live this way. Let us consider some of the consequences of living in fear and how we can instead live joyful lives in Christ.
The first consequence of living in fear is that we get tunnel vision. When we become afraid our decision-making part of the brain gets all messed up. This is because of a mechanism God built into us called “fight or flight.” When we think we are in danger the body prepares to either face it or run from it. A side effect of this is that we get tunnel vision and focus only on the immediate situation. When we do so we can make bad decisions that will have long term consequences. Consider King Saul in 1 Samuel 13:8-10. He was becoming fearful that his army was deserting him. In his fear he decided that he should offer sacrifice to God (something he had no authority to do) and as soon as he did Samuel shows up. Saul’s fear caused tunnel vision where he made a foolish choice and what was the consequence? 1 Samuel 13:13-14 says that Saul’s house was to no longer rule over Israel forever.
A second consequence of living in fear is that we begin to trust more in man than God. In Isaiah 31:1 God says to His people, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because the are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!” Israel at this time in history had lost most of their power, wealth, and glory. Threats on every side and a storm gathering in Babylon. A fearful time to be alive and therefore in Isaiah God pleads with them to repent, return, and trust in Him. Instead they turned to Egypt and its armies. When we live in fear, we can begin to start to trust in man more than God for our safety. We can begin to think that if candidate so and so wins everything will be okay. Or if we get this law passed or overturned, then we do not have to fear. Such may be an indication of trusting in man more than God. God told his people not to be fearful of the things the world fears, but we should fear and honor Him alone (Isaiah 8:12-13).
And a third consequence of living in fear is that we are robbed of the peace and joy that rightfully belongs to us as children of God. Paul in the letter to the Philippians wrote that we were to “rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4. Living in fear hinders us from living the joyful lives the Scriptures tells us we ought to be living.
How do we live a joyful life in Christ? We read in Philippians 4:6 to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.” Whatever is eating at us, whatever is making us fearful, we need to hand it over to God in prayer. Peter echoed this thought in 1 Peter 5:7 where he tells us that we should be “casting all of our anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” That last part of the verse is what we need to remind ourselves of. He cares for us. He holds all in His sovereign hand and works all things together for His glory and will. And because He cares for us note the result of His care in Philippians 4:7 “and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” This is the peace that brings about the joy of Philippians 4:6. The joy (a peaceful contentment) that comes only from know that Mighty God is in control and you are in a right relationship with Him thanks to His Son.
God’s people were not meant to live in fear. Fear robs us of sober clear thinking, it causes one to trust man more than God, and it robs us of the peace of God. So, whatever we are anxious or fearful of let us cast it on God in prayer because He cares for you.