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Sunday, 09 August 2020
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How can we as Christians know whether we are living in fear or in faith? Corinne Kutz/Unsplash

How can we as Christians know whether we are living in fear or in faith?

The young couple was emotionally and physically exhausted. Their toddler was in the hospital undergoing treatments for a brain tumor.

Another couple from church visited the hospital to pray for the sick. They had recently witnessed several miracles and were sure this little boy was going to be healed.

Little “Jackson” was tethered to an IV-pole, his head visibly swollen. Despite this, the couple who had come to pray for him remarked, “Why, just look at him—he looks great! It’s like there’s nothing wrong with him!”

Those words struck like a knife into the hearts of Jackson’s mother and father. From their perspective, the other couple’s light-hearted zeal and confidence were grossly insensitive.

Despite the psychological certainty of the praying couple, Jackson died a few months later.

Was it wrong for the praying couple to believe he would be healed? No, I don’t believe so. The problem was that they conflated psychological certainty with faith. 

They also neglected to “weep with those who weep,” as we are commanded (Romans 12:15).

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This works the other way around, too. 

What we call faith is sometimes nothing more than flippant denial –and on the other hand, what we call wisdom is sometimes just thinly-veiled fear.

(I’m addressing all of us control freaks, myself included.)

Here’s a gem from Solomon:

“For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” –Ecclesiastes 1:18

I saw some excellent advice on Twitter this week:

“Don’t Google it!”

Here’s the irony: we seek information because we think knowledge gives us a sense of control, and having control makes us feel secure.

It’s all an illusion.

God is in control; we are not. According to God’s Word, the more we know, the greater the chance we will fall into worry, anxiety and despair.

Tweet This: God is in control; we are not. According to God’s Word, the more we know, the greater the chance we will fall into worry, anxiety & despair.

Years ago, I stayed up late one night researching a health issue I wanted to solve. The more I studied, the more agitated I got. Suddenly the Holy Spirit dropped a clear thought into my mind,

What are you doing?

God never asks questions because He’s looking for information; He asks questions to expose our motives. In that instant, I realized I was trying to take control and fix things without turning to God.

I put the book away and rested in God’s care for me.

The issue is balance.

When I first met my husband, he shared one of his favorite Bible verses with me, and it has become one of mine as well:

“It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.” –Ecclesiastes 7:18

Whether it’s the coronavirus pandemic, or any other crisis or difficulty, the Word of God instructs us to avoid all-or-nothing thinking. God wants us to live in a balanced way, not as extremists who risk confusing or offending folks who don’t yet know Him.

In order to know whether our faith is actual trust in God (not just psychological assurance), and to know the information we gather doesn’t cause us to live in fear, it may help to ask ourselves some clarifying questions:

1. What is my general pattern in this area? Do I tend to blow things off and act cynical, flippant or lazy in order to avoid reality? Or do I tend to over-analyze, wring my hands, and “worry pray” over situations?

2. On what does my thought life focus most? Do I spend lots of time wondering, “What if…”? “How am I going to…”? Do I practice escapism by ignoring the difficulties around me? Or do I pray and listen for God’s instructions?

3. What feedback have others offered me about my tendencies? Have others told me I worry too much, or that I act like I don’t care and refuse to take action?

4. How has God worked with me over the course of my life? What has He consistently convicted me about, and where/how has He helped me grow in terms of trusting Him and/or not giving way to fear?

5. Which kinds of people am I most prone to judge—those who seem too cocky about matters of faith, or those who annoy me with their anxiousness and negativity? (This question could serve to expose one’s inner Pharisee as well as heart motives.)

Like it or not, we’re living during a unique time in history. 

As pro-life Christians, we stand for the value and dignity of every human being from womb to tomb. 

This means we value our own lives, because we are each created in God’s image and therefore our lives are precious.

So, we seek to stay healthy by following reasonable precautions, while creatively reaching out to others. We hold out hope to those who despair of the future because they lack the assurance of eternal life. 

We continue to present the message of the sacredness of human life because we know death by abortion is not the answer—not for any crisis.

Tweet This: ”We continue to present the message of the sacredness of human life because we know death by abortion is not the answer—not for any crisis”

Our values don’t change during a season like this. If anything, they become more crystallized. We trust God, both by avoiding recklessness and by putting others ahead of ourselves.

This is the paradox of the Christian life. 

Let’s allow this crisis to increase our dependence on God. Let’s demonstrate to a desperate world there is real hope nd peace to be found.

Let’s avoid extremes, be self-aware, and thrive amid crisis, for the glory of God.

Susanne Maynes

Susanne Maynes is an author, speaker, and biblical counselor who served at a pregnancy help center for ten years. She blogs about church and culture, spiritual growth, and Christian parenting at SusanneMaynes.com. Her first book, Unleashing Your Courageous Compassion: 40 Reflections on Rescuing the Unborn, inspires and uplifts the pregnancy help community. Her latest book, Releasing Your Brave Love: Helping Kids to Change Their World, helps 8-12 year-olds embrace the truth of Imago Dei and develop a strong pro-life ethic. 

Website: www.susannemaynes.com

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