When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalms 56:3
I don’t know about you, but recently I have found myself referring to so many verses on ‘fear not’ and do not worry and don’t be anxious and….
The well of them, does not seem to run dry. I do have quite a bit of the bible memorized, but I am surprised to learn I do not yet have as many of these type of verses memorized. As I need them, as my friends and relatives share their fears, I am unable to just quote them. I am disappointed with myself.
I think back – I have never developed a good sense of fear. I had a Boss once years ago who admired my fearlessness – but its not that I am courageous. You see, I know low functioning people who have the same developmental disabilities I have been diagnosed with, and they do not develop an understanding of fear and…. You will have to forgive me but the best way to describe this is very insensitive and politically incorrect….. but neuro-typical people look at those neuro-atypical (and lower functioning) and think that they are just too dumb to be afraid.
I am high functioning. I understand fear in an academic way, yet I have always said my fearlessness isn’t courage – I am just too dumb to be afraid. Fear like that is completely outside of my wheelhouse. And where I am weak, God is manifest so that he gets the glory, here is strength.
When raising my son I used cautionary logic and “if-then” consequences to teach him fear – the kind of fear that is reverent, like fear of the stove and fire, fear of running into a street with cars coming, etc. And I have said all that to explain – these verses on fear are not referring to the reverent fears. For example we fear fire in the sense that we respect fire. Or we fear the Lord meaning we respect Him.
I am not completely without fear experience – I can feel this thick atmosphere moving in and I feel the anxiousness. On a less guarded day, I found myself lining up all the things on a co-workers desk as I talked with her. Oops. I feel it is increasingly difficult to read and pray. So I do have some understanding and I try to use it to relate.
But lately the neuro-typicals all seem to be having “behaviors” that are more common in the developmentally delayed community – individuals who cannot understand and do not have the coping skills and therefore flap arm, act out, panic, etc. I can understand and relate to fear this way and I want to help.
CALM DOWN! But in all the history of calming down who has ever calmed down by being told to calm down?!?! Yet, Jesus said:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” John 14:1
So maybe we should address it like a Behavior Support Plan (BSP). Yes, because so many of y’all are having some pretty extreme behaviors.
The first thing a BSP does is identify the behaviors:
*Panic – acting irrationally and when the government tells you to stay home you find reasons to do the opposite, eating all the food (you do not need to eat: All. The. Food.) compulsively trying to control anything you can control, etc.
*Anxiety – symptoms such as Feelings of apprehension or dread, Watching for signs of danger, Anticipating the worst, Trouble concentrating, Feeling tense and jumpy, Irritability, Feeling like your mind’s gone blank, Pounding heart, Sweating, Headaches, Stomach upset, Dizziness, Frequent urination or diarrhea, Shortness of breath, Muscle tension or twitches, Shaking or trembling, Insomnia, Surge of overwhelming panic, Feeling of losing control or going crazy, Heart palpitations or chest pain, Feeling like you’re going to pass out, Trouble breathing or choking sensation, Hyperventilation, Hot flashes or chills, Trembling or shaking, Nausea or stomach cramps, and/or Feeling detached or unreal.
Now plan to address the behaviors:
At the first sign of symptoms – attempt redirection, redirecting yourself to an unrelated task or activity.
If anxiety continues, change the environment. Go to a new space, another room, outside, or just separate yourself from where you were. Then, engage coping techniques like redirection or…… prayer….
Ok, this is where I leave the conventional wisdom of a BSP because my God is bigger than conventional wisdom. We will not try conventional redirection or coping skills, we will redirect our focus onto our Lord:
“6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
We see here, God already made a plan for addressing this. We just need to be like King David was and redirect ourselves to God:
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Psalm 94:19
Remember my post on how to overcome fear? (the answer is with power, love and a sound mind – go back and read or reread it if you need to) And then lets add to that thought:
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18
Oh sweet readers – did you catch that?!?! “Fear has to do with punishment” and our loving heavenly Father is NOT punishing us!!! He is protecting us with his love.
And I just have to go back to it…
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Power over fear, power to get through this with grace (always grace – always grace)! Love enough for ourselves, to love our neighbors who are afraid and to implement a BSP for them (jk) to help them learn the love of God and not fear! Oh and the hard part – self-discipline: yes folks – be disciplined enough not to go out! Be disciplined enough to keep yourself from fear and anxiety. Self-disciplined enough to be renewed in the lord:
“but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
So, take a collective deep breath – walk through your social distancing chambers (I mean your house). And pray for that peace (Philippians 4:6-7) and renewal (Isaiah 40:31) for you and everyone in that space. Then memorize a few of the encouraging verses about God handling it and humanity doesn’t need to fear – so you can help support and encourage your friends, neighbors and anyone who may need it.
Have power in the confidence that God is not a man that he should lie – and he is the same yesterday, today and forever – meaning he has this.
“7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. 8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
Finally – remember we battle not against flesh and blood or even pathogens – this is a spiritual battle. Put on the full armor of God and get serious about prayer. We are called for such a time as this. (Yes we can still laugh and have fun and the joy of the Lord) But it is time to take your walk with the lord seriously. Today is the day – the time is now.
“6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:6-8
Humble ourselves – be willing to let God use you
Give up anxiety – because he cares,
because we are told to and we must obey, and
because we have a job to do; quite frankly, we do not have the luxury of such distractions
AND be alert and of sober mind – the enemy is trying to consume us, and our loved ones with fear, lies, hopelessness, and death. No man left behind! soldiers of Christ! Watch! Don’t let our brothers and sisters in Christ go down. Watch! Hang onto even our unsaved loved ones, friends and neighbors – don’t leave them behind. Give to them the hope, peace, love….
Do not take the peace of God in and not share it – this whole thing about being a Christian is about sharing – give it away!!!
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” Matthew 10:8
Be healthy and blessed ~ pray Psalms 91 ~ Let’s do this!