Lots of scary stuff out there. How shall we steward our emotions when bombarded?
One of the first things to do is to wisely distinguish between types of fear. Paul Tripp helps tremendously when he outlines four types of fear. Three, he says, are helpful. One is not. Listen to his podcast here.
Three appropriate types of fear:
- Holy Reverence. The Bible says, “the fear (or reverence) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This isn’t the same as being afraid of God–though that could be in view. I think it’s captured well by Peter in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when he says, regarding Aslan, the great lion (and the Christ figure of the story): “I’m longing to see him, even if I do feel frightened when it comes to the point.”
- Rapid Response. This is the fear that motivates heroic action–like running into a busy street to rescue a child who has wandered into danger.
- Appropriate Concern. This is sober analysis that helps us measure risk and take appropriate precautions.
The fourth type of fear Tripp calls “Trouble Meditating, God Forgetting.” This type of fear consumes our thoughts and emotions. It stops praying and is constantly fretting. It spreads fear instead of hope to the people around us; and communicates disordered values to the people we seek to lead.
If you find yourself struggling with this, it’s okay to ask for help. Anxiety disorders are real, and some are severe enough to require professional care.
I think a significant portion of this has to do with the amount of scary news we are consuming. Folks who take a break from social media and news media report back a significant reduction in their fear factor. Filling that time with positive sources can significantly raise your hope–especially if you are a person of faith, and are engaging with the most hopeful story ever told.