Shane Idleman on Overcoming Fear & Conquering Chaos: 10 Tips for Turbulent Times

Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Chris Liu

During difficult seasons we often ask, “Where is God?” The irony is that it often takes stormy seasons to turn us back toward safety. The COVID-19 virus is serious; it’s affecting all of us in profound ways. I believe God wants us to take this seriously and be concerned about the health and safety of others. Fear can bring out the worst in us and harm our families, as this article reveals: North Texas Hospital Reports Spike In Severe Child Abuse Cases.

It’s not that you or I will never fear but it’s what we do with the fear that matters. We have a refuge during the storm if we will simply run to Him. I don’t want to downplay what’s going on, but I also don’t want to amplify fear. The Bible tells us not to worry; instead, it provides hope. It’s honest about the consequences of sin and pending judgment, but it also offers a solution: Turn to God with all your heart is a consistent theme in Scripture. How people respond to a crisis clearly reveals who or what they trust in. If you’re fearful, angry, and anxious, take an inventory: Have you humbled yourself, repented of your sin, and asked God to save you? Are you trusting in God or in religion? In Christ or in your good works? There is no peace until you are right with God, which leads me to the first and most important point:

1. EMBRACE GOD’S WAKE-UPCALL
Psalm 119 reminds us of an essential truth: “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep Your word.” Affliction via difficulties, challenges, and obstacles can lead us back to God. In one fell swoop, COVID-19 has dethroned all our idols. We are finally realizing what is really important. Our affliction has brought many prodigal sons and daughters home. Medical staff are reportedly calling the situation in Italy “the Apocalypse” because of the biblical significance and devastation. Luke 21:11 reminds us that “there will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven” when God begins to judge the nations. One of the most quoted verses during this time is 2 Chronicles 7:14, but if you read it, you will see that verse 13 is actually the beginning of the sentence: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people…” The context is a pandemic. Sound familiar? This is how God would get the attention of His people. Embrace God’s wake-up call and return to Him with all your heart.

2. DIFFICULTIES CAN SHAPE CHARACTER OR RUIN IT
When affliction came to the writer of Psalm 119, he responded: “Teach me good judgment and knowledge” (v. 66). He was open and teachable. He knew that “many are the afflictions of the righteous” but that God would deliver (Psalm 34:19).

3. MINIMIZE MEDIA AND MAXIMIZE THE MOMENT
For me, key verses in Psalm 119 have always been, “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,” and “Direct my steps by Your Word” (vv. 37, 133). Time in God’s Word and in prayer changes your heart, realigning it with His. But spending countless hours watching negative and unproductive media will dampen spiritual health, and most of the media outlets are focused on fear rather than facts. Instead, maximize the moment and allow your relationship with God to grow and flourish. Even when the psalmist said that his “soul clings to the dust” he knew that God could “revive” him according to God’s Word (v. 25). When you meditate on God’s numerous promises, you are built up and encouraged rather than weakened and deflated. This leads me to point four.

4. FUEL HOPE, NOT FEAR
Psalm 119 says: “Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life” (vv. 49-50). Fear and chaos need a host (you or me), and they need fuel. You choose what you’re feeding and fueling yourself with (see point three). Take this point seriously—this is where either success or failure prevails.

5. WE MUST PERSEVERE IN PRAYER
Psalm 119:147 says, “I rise before the dawning of the morning and cry for help.” Persevere means to persist despite contrary influences, opposition, or discouragement. In other words, keep fighting even when the battle is getting discouraging. This is actually not the time to give in but to fight and to persevere. In return, you build faith, spiritual strength, and trust.

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Source: Christian Headlines