A Fearful World - My Walk With God 6/4/20
According to a new USA Today study, the share of Americans who report feeling angry or irritable has surged from 50 percent just two years ago to 60 percent today. A Harvard Medical School study from 2012 found that nearly two-thirds of American teens admit to having anger attacks involving the destruction of property, threats of violence, or engaging in violence.
"Some are describing this as 'America's anger epidemic,' " says one New York news website. It cites unemployment, the economy, and for those who have work, overworking, as contributing factors.
But we're not only angry. We're also afraid … of one another. "For four decades," reports the Associated Press, "a gut-level ingredient of democracy—trust in the other fellow—has been quietly draining away. These days, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted. Half felt that way in 1972." The AP article concludes, "Forty years later, a record high of nearly two-thirds say 'you can't be too careful' in dealing with people."
In 1975, Roger Hart conducted a study on where children felt safe to play. He focused on 86 children between the ages of three to twelve in a small town in Vermont. Hart would follow the kids throughout the day, documenting everywhere the children went by themselves. He then took that information and made physical maps that measured the distance each child was allowed to go by themselves and what the average was for every age group.
Hart discovered that these kids had remarkable freedom. Even four- or five-year-olds, traveled unsupervised throughout their neighborhoods, and by the time they were 10, most of the kids had the run of the entire town. And the kids' parents weren't worried either.
Then several years ago (about 2014), he went back to the same town to document the children of the children that he had originally tracked in the '70s, and when he asked the new generation of kids to show him where they played alone, what he found floored him. Hart said, "They just didn't have very far to take me, just walking around their property." In other words, the huge circle of freedom on the maps had grown tiny.
Hart added, "There is no free range outdoors. Even when the kids are older, parents now say, 'I need to know where you are at all times.'"
But what's odd about all of this, is that the town is not more dangerous than it was before. There's literally no more crime today than there was 40 years ago.
So why has the invisible leash between parent and child tightened so much? Hart says it was absolutely clear from his interviews.
The reason was fear.
Here's the conclusion to his new study: fear of the world outside our door narrows the circle of our lives.
Today, we can feel a trickle of fear – or a stab of fear – or the overwhelming flood of fear… it is in the air these days, both in terms of health, of economic future, of race relations, so that it can be crippling, like those kids Roger Hart studied in Vermont.
In My Walk with God, we must learn how to deal with fear – it is one of our enemy’s most potent weapons against us, and it can paralyze us – so how do we deal with fear…
First, look at it, admit it, call it what it is – Say to God, and to yourself , I am afraid… and fill in the sentence. Naming it is the first step.
Second, confess what David prayed in Psalm 56:1-4 All day long an attacker oppresses me; my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?
Quote what God said in Isaiah 41 and 43 -- Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 43:1-2 But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
Third, express your faith and confidence in God – he promised that a spirit of fear doesn’t come from him – rather, he gives us power, love, and self control. Stand on the promise that God is with me, that I am more than a conqueror in the midst of it all.
As my friend John reminded me today from a song we sing, “My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in Your love.” Sing it, believe it, and dismiss fear with the confidence of a child who knows I am in my Father’s hand, standing in His love.