“The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Recognize that reference?

Franklin D. Roosevelt 1933 InaugurationWith this powerful call upon Americans to place their faith in their leaders and release their grip on fear, new president Franklin D. Roosevelt began his inaugural address on March 4, 1933.

America was at the peak of the Great Depression and was looking for a glimmer of hope that life would turn around and improve. They had lived in fear as the economy seemed to disappear overnight and one of the greatest recessions in history dragged on for years.

FDR delivered, but not before using his inaugural speech to reprimand the country’s greed and selfishness and invoke the people to exchange their fear for hope and hard work.

Now the year is 2020, and once again our world faces an economic crisis, but this time the initial cause is a virus, not a stock market crash. The world also has not sunk as low as it did during the Great Depression (time will tell if that happens or not).

Regardless of how these two individual crises began, they are primarily fueled by one thing: fear. President Roosevelt recognized that fear was keeping able-bodied men and women from going back to work and rebuilding the economy. Today, fear threatens to topple a worldwide economy that has steadily moved along for several years.

According to Dictionary.com, fear is “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.”

Sometimes the object of our fear is real, and sometimes it is imagined. Either way, it causes distress.

So what is it that people fear right now? Death.

Simply put, right now people are more aware of death than they usually are, and they are afraid to die.

No, we are not afraid of getting sick. We all get sick at one time or another, but we know that we will recover. Eventually, we will work again, play again, go on vacation again, etc.

Ironically, fear of death does not keep many people from driving to work every day, sending their kids to public school, drinking alcohol at sporting events, eating junk food, smoking during breaks, going for headers in a soccer game, etc.

Preventable Causes of DeathEvery day most of us engage in activities that kill other people every single day. But we take those chances and they typically do not scare us. We assume that we will be in the 99-percentile that survives.

Right now our world looks much different than it did 6 months ago because suddenly death is on our minds, and we are afraid that we (or someone we know) might be one of the 1-2% that dies from Covid-19.

Those who do not have a relationship with Christ are afraid to die for various reasons. Some believe that life just ends, so this life is their only opportunity to enjoy everything the world offers. Some believe in God, but they think that good works will gain his favour, and they know that they are not good enough yet. Some do not know if heaven or hell are real, so that uncertainty motivates them to live as long as possible.

Life as a born-again Christian is different though. If you have truly placed your faith in Jesus Christ, you have the hope of eternal life that should surpass any fear of death you might have here on earth.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). We should not fear because God has given us a spirit of power and love and a sound mind. We can live with the hope that God has a perfect plan for us and will enable us to accomplish everything that he wants us to do for him.

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This is the hope and the confidence that wakes me up each day tells me that it is safe to drive to work. This is the same hope and confidence that urges me to visit foreign countries and serve local churches in parts of the world that we might consider dangerous.

This is the same hope and confidence that should motivate me to build relationships with unbelievers and make them disciples of Christ.

In fact, although life on earth is amazing, born-again Christians have something even better to look forward to! In Philippians 1:20, Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

For the child of God, death is not something to be feared. Death is a means to a more wonderful beginning. Death is the only thing holding us back from being in the presence of Christ.

For the child of God, death is a necessary evil (Genesis 2:17) but a merciful gift. Death for a Christian is just a diploma, and a funeral is the ultimate commencement ceremony.

Covid-19 is nothing but another aspect of the curse of sin, and, yes, another agent of death. But the Coronavirus does not scare me because death does not scare me.

God is in control of this world. He created it, someday he will re-create it, and until then, nothing happens that he does not have power and authority over. He also created me and has re-created me, and nothing can separate me from his love- not even death (Romans 8:38-39).

But if you have not placed your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, I don’t blame you for being afraid. You ought to be filled with utter fear right now.

So should we just ignore Covid-19? No.

Should we ignore what is going on in our economy right now? Definitely not.

Should anything concern born-again believers right now? Yes, I think so.

Come back next time to read more.

(If you enjoyed this post, I would appreciate it if you share it with others!)

  1. Fear: The Powerless Emotion That Controls Us
  2. What Does Fear Do to Us?
  3. What Impact Does Fear Have on the Economy?
  4. Fear Is a Choice
  5. “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”
  6. Replacing Fear with a Healthy Awareness
  7. Flaunting Fearlessness
  8. Your Life Should Be Characterized by Fear

Fear Is a Choice

If God spares me long enough to become well-stricken in years, someday I will tell young people, “I remember the days when the line for Chipotle stretched halfway through the parking lot.”

Social DistancingYes, Chipotle often has a line, but, no, it doesn’t usually stretch that far. But today the lines at grocery stores, coffee shops, and restaurants are 2-6 times longer than they were only a few months ago.

(By the way, I don’t really like the term “social distancing.” I prefer the term that I heard Tony Evans mention the other day, “physical distancing.” Social distancing has been happening for years, largely thanks to smartphones.)

Times have changed, and only time will tell whether the old normal will return or whether this new normal has ushered in a new era.

But one thing that hasn’t changed is fear. The only difference is that now it has manifested itself with a new agent.

Fear is everywhere, and it quickly spreads from person to person regardless of how far apart we stand. Even the isolated are not exempt.

The symptoms? Worry, panic, and stress. In severe cases, self-destruction. Do you realize how scary it is when a self-imposed emotion suddenly has the power to destroy you?

So how does fear survive and grow inside a person’s soul?

Simple. We recognize our fear, try to conquer it, and then grow more fearful when we fail. The process repeats itself until our minds are incapable of handling the stress that we have placed upon ourselves.

Fear is deceptive, telling victims, “You are stronger than me. You can control me. Do whatever you have to conquer me.” The victims listen, react, and fall deeper into the trap they set for themselves.

This harmful cycle continues indefinitely.

Fear LightsCovid-19 may have changed your life in the last few days. Maybe a friend or family member has contracted the virus and is fighting to stay alive. Maybe you have lost your job or have suffered a cutback in hours. Maybe your upcoming vacation was canceled.

Maybe you are a senior citizen and have seen your investments diminish. Maybe you are a senior in high school or college and are wondering if you’ll be able to graduate this spring. Maybe nothing has happened to you and you are just waiting for something bad to come your way.

You can still live without fear.

“That’s impossible! I can’t control my circumstances!”

Correct. But you can control your responses.

Fear is a choice.

Fear, however, is not the only option. Actually, let me place a condition on that statement.

Fear is not the only choice for a born-again Christian. For everyone else, fear is still a choice, but it is the only choice they have.

If you set a bowl of oatmeal before an unhealthily skinny, starved person, they have a choice. They can eat the food or reject it. The choice is not between several different types of food. They simply get to eat what is before them or continue to starve.

Those who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ and accepted his forgiveness of sin have only one choice before them when hardships and trials come: fear. They choose to fear because choosing not to fear is the equivalent of ignoring what is going on around them.

But for those of us who have a personal relationship with God?

Fear is a choice, but it’s not the only one, and it’s not the best one.

Why? We will explore that concept in the next post.

But here’s a hint: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Stay tuned…after all, you probably have a little extra free time right now anyway 🙂

(If you enjoyed this post, I would appreciate it if you share it with others!)

  1. Fear: The Powerless Emotion That Controls Us
  2. What Does Fear Do to Us?
  3. What Impact Does Fear Have on the Economy?
  4. Fear Is a Choice
  5. “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”
  6. Replacing Fear with a Healthy Awareness
  7. Flaunting Fearlessness
  8. Your Life Should Be Characterized by Fear