My late wife, Bev, had an irrational fear of flying. When she was a young woman, she felt near panic as time for boarding neared. Was there a miniscule chance the plane would go down? Yes, but the real danger was near non-existent. She would talk herself around her irrational fears, refusing to let them control her.
Many people believe that the world in which they live is much more dangerous than it actually is and that the future is surely one of pending disaster. Let’s talk about tornadoes. Are they terrible and destructive? Yes! But, less than 50 people are killed on average by them in the US annually, while thousands die from asthma related issues. So why aren’t there more stories about asthma? Tornadoes make great news stories with graphic pictures of the damage they do. And then there are sharks. According to Wikepedia, there are only an average of 16 shark attacks per year and 1 death every two years here in the US, yet people are very afraid of sharks. Why? There was Jaws! And, there is Shark Week. We are strangely captivated by an irrational fear that is almost non-existent.
We have a bias towards the negative. We report the few things that go wrong instead of the many that go right! We talk about the one divorce among our friends, not the dozens of happy marriages that surround us. We talk about the one traffic accident not the thousands of people who drove safely to their destination.
There is a secondary issue involved in our sense of personal well-being. We often confuse ‘what is comfortable for me’ with ‘what is right for the world.’ That is one reason that as people age they tend to become critics of younger people. Each generation brings about change. The very fact of change often feels ‘threatening’ and provokes both fear and anger as a response in many.
Am I suggesting that problems do not exist or that we should ignore them? No, I am not. To hide from reality is a silly, immature choice. My appeal is that we make sure to widen the lens to take in the whole picture. If we want to be healthy spiritually and emotionally, we need a context for our concern that makes our responses appropriate and proportionate.
Christian, make ‘thanksgiving’ lists right alongside of your ‘prayer’ lists. Remember to thank God for the gifts, the blessings, the good people, the kindnesses, the days that come and go without incident even as you also petition Him on behalf of those who are suffering and in trouble. The act of giving thanks will actually increase your faith! Genuine praise, not the forced or fake words, flows from the Christian who takes time to ‘see’ the good, to recognize the hand of God, to really appreciate the beauty that is woven into life. If you think I’m naïve, I urge you to work at overcoming your negativity bias.
I leave you today with this song of David as our word from the Word. Soak your mind in the truth! Take a cue from the words and let your heart be overcome with wonder. You will meet the real challenges of life with deeper faith.
“O Lord, our Lord, the majesty of your name fills the earth!
Your glory is higher than the heavens.
You have taught children and nursing infants to give you praise.
They silence your enemies who were seeking revenge.
When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers
— the moon and the stars you have set in place—
what are mortals that you should think of us,
mere humans that you should care for us?
For you made us only a little lower than God,
and you crowned us with glory and honor.
You put us in charge of everything you made,
giving us authority over all things
— the sheep and the cattle and all the wild animals,
the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,
and everything that swims the ocean currents.
O Lord, our Lord, the majesty of your name fills the earth!” (Psalm 8, NLT)
(Matt Redman builds our faith with this song of praise)
Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
The sun comes up it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore
Worship Your holy name
Lord I’ll worship Your holy name
Jonas Myrin | Matt Redman © 2011 Atlas Mountain Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) worshiptogether.com songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
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