Faith, Fear, Perspective

Fear: We Always Have a Choice

Photo of an empty thoroughfare on a hoarfrost morning, emphasizes the emptiness

@JeanneTakenaka

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Have I mentioned that I. Don’t. Like. Change?

Life as we know it . . . 

Choir concerts

Church activities and services

Writing conferences

Work trips

Youth retreats

School (my kids’ spring break was extended to two weeks due to the virus)

And many other activities . . . 

Have come to a jarring halt. 

With the concerns about the latest virus, I’ve vacillated between fear, frustration, and resignation. I know there are fewer cases and deaths from the coronavirus than we normally see from Influenza. But, this virus has made national headlines for weeks. The numbers sound so ominous.

A foggy road, a symbol of how fear can feel overwhelming

I’ve been fearful because of the unknowns. And the way the media has latched onto the urgency of the situation, it sounds as though it’s a matter of time before it strikes everyone. It’s tempting to give in to the worry of what could happen if . . . the virus hits our town (it has), our school, our home.

As selfish as this sounds, frustration has been a companion because so much has been canceled. I’m not disagreeing with the decisions made to cancel events. But there’s a sense of disappointment that comes when something anticipated is axed. And helping our sons come to terms with disappointment—though necessary—has still broken a piece of my heart.

Bare trees on a wintry day

Resignation has hit because I can’t do anything to alter these circumstances. I can’t change the fact that the life we’re comfortable with has been impacted by this pandemic. 

In the midst of the uncertainty this crisis has stirred up, we have a choice. We can put feet to our faith and figure out how to live it out in the middle of this, or we can give in to the fear and give up on hope. 

When it comes to fear, this verse is a beautiful reminder of where our thoughts should be. 

Meme with the words, "Finally brethren, whatever is true, w whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence, and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." ~Philippians 4;8 on a backdrop of hoarfrost covered trees and blue skies

“What if . . . the virus attacks someone I love?” 

“What if . . . they die from it?”

What if’s are not true. When we live in a season of uncertainty, we must fix our thoughts on what is true. 

What is true?
God is on the throne. 

He’s not surprised this has happened at this point in history. 

He is still good. 

When we choose to trust Him, God gives us His peace. 

Meme with the words, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." ~Isaiah 26:3 on a backdrop of a snowy road framed in by dark pine trees

Facts about the virus:

A large percentage of the people who become ill also recover. We rarely hear about them because that’s not where press stories tend to focus.

The new cases in China have decreased as they’ve learned how to deal with it.

We have many things and people that can help if we—or someone we know—happen to become ill.

There are many precautions we can take to promote good health in our homes and workplaces.

An empty aisle where toilet paper is normally displayed...reminder of the stockpiling mentality some people have embraced

Living with a fear mentality promotes the stockpiling we’ve seen. 

Living with a faith mentality helps us to navigate this scary season with peace and a sound mind.

I’m shifting my perspective. My teenage sons will be home for at least two weeks. I can make this an opportunity to spend time with them talking, hanging out, and making memories together. 

A pine tree with hoarfrost and sunlight shining through branches, a reminder that there is hope even in scary seasons.

As for resignation? Well, that choice is completely up to us. We can’t control the decisions to cancel events. We can view them as protective measures to stay the virus before it grows too virulent.

We can view this situation with hope, knowing the One who holds us in the palm of His hand has given us an opportunity to share His hope with others. We can encourage those who are fearful. We can find reassurance in the truth that God’s got His eye on this whole situation. And He’s working. 

We may not see all He’s doing, but He is not a God of inaction. He is not a capricious God. This may be a time when people turn to Him in desperation and find what their spirits need most. 

A photo of trees with snow and hoarfrost against a blue sky backdrop, a reminder of hope and beauty amid trials

Instead of being discouraged about the current situation, we can look for God’s fingerprints in our daily lives. 

Cancellations and all.

What about you? How have you dealt with the various emotions during these past number of weeks? Where are you finding hope in the middle of this unknown?

Click to Tweet: Living with a faith mentality helps us to navigate this scary season

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35 thoughts on “Fear: We Always Have a Choice”

  1. I can say the day I knew
    that all fear was beaten;
    I escaped a nasty native crew
    who would have skinned, then eaten
    the writer of this humble rhyme,
    but I was a fair bit faster,
    making better running time
    and warding off disaster.
    I realized I felt no terror,
    just desire for survival;
    perhaps theology was in error,
    but that day was my tent-revival
    when in trade for ‘scaping hurts
    I promised to stop chasing skirts.

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    1. Andrew, I really appreciate how you bring out the drive for survival we all have. Your examples are good visuals for what I think may be driving the fear of this virus. I love that you’ve come to the place of feeling no terror, even in what you face now. I’m praying for you, friend.

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  2. I cannot tell you how minimally this weighs on my mind. Perhaps it is because I live in a very low-risk part of the country. Then again, I feel that mass panic is less than helpful. My parents are long deceased. I know the elderly are most at risk as well as the immune compromised. However….The pervasive fright helps no one. Of course, precautions are wise to take. Then trust….

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    1. Carol, you are fortunate this virus hasn’t impacted your part of the country. 🙂 I agree that mass-panic is less than helpful. And pervasive fight does help no one. It seems like we must come to the place where, as you said, we take precautions—do as much as is in our power to avoid this illness—and then trust God in all of it. thnaks for sharing your thoughts!

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      1. I feel that I should apologize for perhaps not taking this seriously enough, knowing that people are dying of this virus. I shouldn’t had been so insensitive. Please forgive my lapse in empathy.

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      2. Awww, Carol. It’s easy to sway to one side or the other right now. The media has taken this and made it into a fear-inducing circus. Yes, people are dying, and people are getting sick, but many, many of them recover just fine. It can be easy to go the other way because of how the media is handling this. The resulting stockpiling going on has hardened me some, and I too, need the reminder that empathy is the way Jesus wants us to respond. I so appreciate your sensitivity here.

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  3. LIke you, I’m disappointed at all the good things that have been cancelled, all the while seeing the need, but wishing it weren’t so. And I’m guilty of going into scolding mode over all the hype and hysteria and hoarding that have characterized our cultural response. (Really, people???)
    But leaning into truth is the only sure method for fighting fear, so here we are, my friend.
    Leaning!

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    1. Michele, the hype of it all has been disappointing to see. I went to the store yesterday for things we needed and I was shocked at how empty the shelves were. It took four stores before I found chicken. I never did find beef. All of this was such a reminder to me of how mindsets change when they are pushed by fear. Leaning into truth really is the only sure method for fighting fear. Let’s continue to lean into the One who holds us close!

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  4. As I said in my post this week, when your life has been like a roller coaster, Rona aka the Coronavirus pandemic does not faze me. All I can do, all any of us can do is trust God and lean on his everlasting arms. He knew this would happen before it happened and he has a plan for it. We have to shift into our new way of being knowing that this too shall and will pass.

    You have the right idea. Spend time with your sons and create memories.

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    1. Yvonne, I like your perspective. I got onto the roller coaster some, but I’ve stepped off it and remembered Who’s in control of everything. There’s comfort in knowing our Father isn’t surprised by these happenings. And, He’s here with us in the midst, enabling us to walk well in faith and trust in Him. And thank goodness this too shall pass. Thanks for your words here!

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  5. Whenever we face uncertainty we can certainly end up with a host of mixed emotions. We much prefer to know our schedules, to make plans, to know our next steps. We like to know how stories unfold and prefer endings that wrap everything up neatly. But what we are currently facing does not allow us to do any of this. I can help but think of the phrase that appears so often in Scripture when God steps into lives and calls us to rise. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid: do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

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    1. You nailed me, Anne. I LIKE knowing my schedule and making sure my plans come to pass. But, when these things happen, that’s when we really do have to choose…will we cling to our plans and attempts at control, or will we cling to our Father, who already sees the way through? I love your reminder that, in time like these, we are called to be strong and courageous. We can do this because our Father is with us everywhere we go. Thanks for sharing your words here!

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  6. I love your encouragement to live in a faith mentality rather than a fear mentality, Jeanne. It helps so much, doesn’t it? But I am grateful that God is so patient with us and doesn’t condemn us if fear and those what-ifs do pop up in our hearts. And this – “We can view this situation with hope, knowing the One who holds us in the palm of His hand has given us an opportunity to share His hope with others.” Amen! Love and blessings of hope and peace to you!

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    1. Yes, Trudy, choosing to live with a faith mentality is much better for peace of mind and heart. I’m with you . . . so grateful God is patient for those times when I struggle to walk in faith. I’m thankful our Father is so loving. I hope you are finding quiet moments with Jesus in this crazy season! Love and blessings to you too, sweet friend.

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  7. Thank you for this wonderful reminder to live with a faith, rather than fear mentality. I was initially disappointed in all the cancelations too – we were supposed to leave on an overseas trip next week that had to be rescheduled and our plans to travel to Colorado (from PA) are up in the air. I tend to get caught in a vicious circle of “what ifs” until I remember the verse from Philippians you cite here. Dwell on the good. Beautiful!

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    1. Laurie, canceling/rescheduling trips can be stressful on its own. I’m sorry you’ve had to do that. We know that the Lord has His perfect plans, and they seldom reflect ours. I hope you’re able to reschedule your overseas trip. I look forward to hearing more about that! 🙂 And yes, let’s keep Philippians 4:8 in mind!

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  8. Jeanne, I will admit … I have struggled with fear as my parents are both still alive, relatively healthy and older. So this has impacted us greatly. But I am so grateful for God’s Word and other reminders, like this post, which pull me back, lift my eyes upward, and help me to focus on the One who is in control of all our days. Blessings!

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    1. Joanne, I’ve thought about our parents as well. My MIL is alive but battling cancer, and both of my parents are still living. They’re healthy, but in that age range. I have had to rein in my thoughts and heart, and remember to breathe deep. I’m thankful our Father who loves us is still on His throne, and He is still good. I just need to, as you shared, focus on Him and not on the circumstances. Hugs, friend!

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    1. It is a crazy time right now, Jessica. And I’m certain you’re living similar crazy to me with kids home from school and all activities canceled. I’m truly grateful God is right beside us!

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  9. Jeanne, I love how you’ve put into words so many of the feelings I have had about this current situation. It’s strange that we can be living so far apart and yet have such similar experiences with this thing. I have gone from having an incredibly busy two months ahead to having basically nothing in my diary, and I definitely don’t find that easy, but I am trying to focus on the positives – to use the time for all the things I’ve wanted to do but struggled to find time for, and to look for where there are opportunities to help others in my community. I’m grateful that although we have fear and frustration we also have hope.

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    1. Lesley, it really is interesting to see how, though we live on different continents, we both have similar questions and experiences. My schedule has really opened up too. All activity has come to a halt. Even Hubs is working from home right now. And yes, use that opened up time on those things you’ve been wanting to do! 🙂 I’m sure God will show you ways to help people in your community, my friend. We always have hope when we’re looking to God, don’t we? Stay safe and healthy!

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  10. Philippians 4:8 – what a wonderful verse for these days we live in (well, for all days) but taking my stray thoughts (so prone to fear, anxiety, discouragement and the like) is the best to “put feet to my faith”! I’ve not heard that phrase – but I like it!:) Thanks for the encouragement, Jeanne!

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    1. Jennifer, Philippians 4:8 is one of my life verses. The whole idea of “think on what is true” has helped me more times than I can count! May He continue to give you His peace in this crazy time!

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  11. Isaiah 26:3. What a wonderful verse to dive deep into this time! I have been in self-isolation for almost two weeks now and it has been tough, I must admit! Thus far healthy, but it feels right to follow the country recommendation. Schools are most likely closed for the rest of the year. I know high school grads are so disappointed! A good thing is the internet! And I’m so thankful for all the communication tools we have! When I found the stress starting, I knew I wasn’t diving into God’s promises. Thanks for bringing more of the Lord to my world!

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    1. Lynn, I’m sorry you’ve had to self-isolate. I trust you’re okay? As much as I gripe about the time my sons spend on their phones, I’m glad they have those to connect with friends. Both had video chats with friends yesterday, and it was good for their spirits. I agree the internet can be a good thing. Isaiah 26:3 is one verse I go to a lot. I’ve been more intentional about being more in His word during this time too. Saying prayers for you, friend.

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  12. Since I am retired some things haven’t changed for me with the self-isolation order. I am at home way more than usual but I am still seeing my kids which helps. I listen to the news on a need to know basis. If I get too caught up in all of the reports my anxiety gets the better of me.

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    1. Mary, I’m so glad you have the opportunity to still see your kids. I’m with you…only watching/reading the news a little bit. I become overwhelmed, and that’s never a good thing. I’m hoping the added time at home isn’t too difficult!

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  13. Jeanne, I’m in the same boat as you with the now-empty calendar. Some of those cancelled events (at least until some possible point in the summer) are pretty significant too (like my daughter’s high school graduation). I also have been amazed, though, when I consider ways that God has gone before us and prepared hearts for these “losses.” The what-ifs get me down, and then I remember to pray. God knows how we are formed and remembers that we are dust. I’m so thankful for his mercy and grace. Long-distance hugs, friend.

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    1. Lois, I’m so sorry your daughter’s graduation was canceled. That’s a loss, for sure. I have a couple of friends with seniors this year who are facing the same huge disappointment. You’re so right. God has gone before us—in big ways and small—in preparing our hearts for this time in our shared history. Yes, prayer is so calming to the spirit. I’m so thankful our Father sees not only the present hard, but the future resolution of this international crisis. I’m thankful for His grace and mercy too. Sending you a hug back, friend.

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  14. Thank you for your words, Jeanne! Although so much in the world is unsettling right now, I’m grateful we have a Father in heaven who is solid as a rock. It has given me a new appreciation for things I took for granted. I never thought I would be teaching music over the internet, but I will be. That should be a new adventure.

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