Whether we like it or not, the world today has triggered the natural and instinctive reaction of fear in many people. The “fight or flight” response is very real and triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol in our bodies. It seems like we have been given only two hard choices.
We are witnessing multiple mass migrations around the world. People risk their lives because there are wars and open borders. Leaders in rogue countries are risking everything to conquer neighbors. In our own nation, families are uprooting themselves, escaping liberal cities and states in the hope of regaining some resemblance of safety and control over their lives and the lives of their children. People have the “flight” response down pat. The question, however, is whether people should think about standing their ground and fighting! If there is any advice to be had that is worth its salt, it is safe to assume that we should begin any search for answers with the author and creator of our bodies and souls, God Himself. Can God help us with understanding when it is time to stop running away and stand and fight for our rights and freedoms?
“Anxiety is the natural result when our hopes are centered in anything short of God and His will for us.” ~ Billy Graham
Anxiety only distracts us from our relationship with God and His Truth. “At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children’” (Matthew 11:25). At its worst, anxiety can be a crippling disease, taking over our minds and moving our thoughts to fear of the darkness of the world around us. To see God in our world and understand His Truth is essential to reducing anxiety and controlling fear.
(Ephesians 6:13)1NIV New International Version Translations – “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
Fear, the desire to run away, often takes seed in the depths of ignorance. Simply, we stay and fight when we believe we can win, and we run when we believe it is a lost cause. Our threats in life breakdown as follows:
- There is Physical danger: Physical harm or injury can include threats from other people, dangerous animals, governments, countries, or natural disasters.
- There is Emotional stress or Trauma: You might find yourself in sudden shock, the result of past traumatic experiences, such as physical or emotional abuse, that create a sense of danger and vulnerability.
- Social anxiety can cause fear: Social situations and interactions, such as public speaking or meeting new people, due to the fear of rejection, judgment, or embarrassment.
- Phobias: An irrational fear of a specific object or situation, such as heights, spiders, or enclosed spaces.
- Loss of control can trigger fear: A sense of losing control, such as being in an unpredictable or chaotic environment not of your own making.
- Most recently, uncertainty: A sense of the unknown, such as fear of the future.
- Finally, there is the Perceived threat: Even when there is no actual danger, the perception of a threat can trigger “fight or flight” responses in people.
The element most critical in any of the above types of fear is whether you are prepared to make good decisions or to be discerning when facing your fears. God’s Word suggests wearing “His full armor.” Armor protects and intimidates your enemies. Did you notice that the verses include the use of “the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Therefore, we are guided with this advice: prepare, prepare, prepare. It is also called KNOWLEDGE. For if you have both faith and knowledge, who dares challenge you?
Next, let’s take the gorilla in the room. We are called first to fear God! Why? God is eternal, all-powerful, and all-knowledgeable. Since eternity is FOREVER, it is no joking matter as to which side of God you should be striving for. You remember, don’t you, the part about separating the SHEEP from the GOATS (Matthew 25:31-46)? It seems that God is telling us to always run toward Him and fight back when obstacles are present. A good beginning is to believe that God exists and to align your purpose in life to seek His Truth. Some call that reverence. When we have the proper balance between self-interests and His interests, it causes us to want to serve Him. (Psalm 89:7; Hebrews 12:28-29)
- We should fear acting against God’s will.
- We should fear dishonoring God with our actions.
- We should fear misrepresenting God or His Word to the world.
There is a natural humility that emanates from faith in God. It stirs a hatred for sin and takes seriously the impact that sin has on our world. (Romans 7:13) When our attention is on God and He is in our hearts, we then can love Him with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength, and keep His commandments. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Deuteronomy 10:12-13; Matthew 22:36-38) It is also easier to love others too. Such knowledge and strength let us stand before difficult situations and difficult people because God doesn’t want us to be afraid. It’s Time to Stop Running! We need to be people who will no longer run away because God doesn’t want us to be afraid. He wants us to be bold, and courageous, and to know that we can handle anything that comes our way!
(1 John 4:4) – “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
No, we cannot fix everything that is wrong in the world. Thank goodness God is not asking us to do that. He is, however, asking us to be responsible. Learn His Truth and stand firm against the world’s corruption of His Truth. How you act influences others and who you support impacts the world around you.
(Proverbs 3:27) – “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.”
When we see injustice that we can personally do something about, God obligates us to step in and help where we can. Need a good Biblical example? The parable of the Good Samaritan is a great place to start. The hero of the story didn’t help by trying to change the Roman justice system or campaign for societal change. He just stepped in and did what others wouldn’t do (Luke 10:25-37).
The Book of Jonah gives us a wonderful example of the futility of running away from God. Jonah did not want to take on God’s challenge of a prophet and go tell the people of Nineveh (Jonah 1:1-2) of their sins and wickedness. They needed to repent. Jonah went the other way. God reeled Jonah back on track and helped him with his task. For issues of faith and defense of God’s Truth, the fight or flight response should not start with fighting or fleeing. There is in the beginning of any threat, an opportunity to understand the magnitude of the predicament. We need to know how to fight or when to flee and where to go.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-9) – “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”
Time must be spent understanding and considering options. Whether you run or stay is not as important as the fact that it was a product of deliberate thinking about God’s Truth. God does hold us accountable for our choices!
(Proverbs 31:8-9) – “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Finding your source of strength lies in your understanding of God’s Will for your life. Remember Billy Graham’s words in 1965. He had no idea of his role in this world when he stepped forward to challenge people around him to know and trust God. His trust in God made all the difference!
(Philippians 4:8-9) – “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
The purpose, of course, is to stop future injustices against those around us and do our part by defending our friends, families, country, and humanity itself. If we are silent or always run in the other direction, there is little hope for the future. Through our actions, we can feel better about understanding God’s Truth and our role in His Kingdom. This makes us better people, capable of contributing to the overall well-being of the world around us. Yes, evil will still exist. The lust for power will still reside in the hearts of evil people. But the difference is that your hope will rest on the gift of Grace from our Creator and the sacrifice that His Son has made for each of us. And to that, we say each day, Halleluiah!
- What do you do to seek the will of God?
- Ideas to Explore: Do you spend time thinking about what God wants for you? Is your life all uphill or does the road you follow take you closer to God and His peace? Do you really, really believe there is an eternal God?
- Where do you go and what do you do to align your own will to God’s Truth?
- Ideas to Explore: Is your opinion different than God’s? Where do you differ? Have you spent time to understand both yourself and your God? Does your will hurt or help the world around you?
- Are you are fighter?
- Ideas to Explore: Do injustices make you work harder to see them overcome? Are you silent, a person that likes the shadows so no one even knows what your opinions are? Can you make a list of what you have done in your life to change the world for the better?
- Are you very good at finding safe places to hide?
- Ideas to Explore: Hiding is sometimes the prudent thing to do. Do you find places that build your faith and strengthen your spirit to hide in?
- What should the world write on your tombstone?
- Ideas to Explore: Really, what message would you leave for the generations to come about you?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations