Fear Image

Cal Jernigan – Senior Pastor

At the end of every year the Miriam Webster Dictionary determines a” word of the year.” They choose the word based on the number of times it was looked up. The word chosen for the year 2015 was actually not a word, but rather a suffix. You will remember that a suffix is a little group of letters that come at the end of a word that modify the meaning of the word. The suffix they granted the status of “word of the year” was “ism.” They felt those three little letters at the end of a word best summarize what we were thinking about in 2015. Apparently there are 2733 English words that end with this suffix, but there were seven words that we were most enthralled with. Here are top seven “ism’s” on our minds last year, 1) Socialism, 2) Fascism, 3) Racism, 4) Feminism, 5) Communism, 6) Capitalism, 7) Terrorism.

I’m not sure how this list strikes you, but I can’t help but associate a number of these isms with things that tend to frighten and intimidate people. The obvious application of this is terrorism, but embedded in this list are many subjects that people are indeed extremely fearful of. These are uncertain and frightening times, to be sure, but I think perhaps a better word of the year for 2015 might have been “fear.” We are afraid of that which we don’t understand and we right now we don’t understand all the ways the world is changing around us. But since they didn’t choose “fear” as the word of the year, perhaps the next best thing might be to label those isms that are making us so afraid.

While there is much we could say about fear (and we have said much in prior blog posts), I want to suggest that what gives fear so much power over us is its first cousin, worry. Wherever you find fear, you will find worry.  Fear and worry cohabitate. Worry is the result of being made afraid. Worry is the outcome fear always produces.

Corrie Ten Boom once said,

“Worry is the cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear.”

A couple of the words in this definition of worry jump out at me. The first is “cycle.” Things that cycle go in circles. Cycles are patterns that repeat themselves. Once you get in a cycle, you keep doing the thing you started doing again and again. Worry is like that. Once you begin, it’s hard to jump off. You worry, and worry, and worry.

The other word that stands out to me is “inefficient.” Worry is just that; it is inefficient. It accomplishes nothing. Most of what we worry about never actually comes to pass but we do it anyway. Worry is like rocking in a rocking chair; it will give you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere. It is inefficient to move you forward.

Just as Jesus taught us not to fear, he also taught us not to worry. He assured us that since we had nothing to fear, we also had nothing to worry about.

So what is it that you are worried about today? Can I suggest you meditate on three specific things Jesus said? While he said many other things about worry, let your mind marinate on these…

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The truth is…

Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday!

Was there really any need to worry about it? Just take life one day at a time and enjoy it to the fullest. Today’s not so bad after all!

The Year of the “ISM”

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