By Dave Saviola
Fear. Anxiety. With election hacking, international tensions, politics, viruses and stock market corrections, these emotions seem to be commonplace these days. Interestingly, fear and anxiety are often used synonymously with one another, but they are actually quite different. Fear is an essential emotion built into our body to warn us of impending danger. I’m sure you’ve heard of the flight or fight response before. Healthy fear is a respect, or reverence for something much more powerful than you and I. It is a feeling that can be harnessed and used to our advantage in many situations.
Being anxious on the other hand, is something quite separate, and is more related to worry about misfortune that might or might not be happening in the future.
Not surprisingly, we see this difference outlined over and over again in God’s Word. Fear is used many times in the Bible putting the word in context and making it clear we are not to fear anything besides our Lord. Knowing who is ultimately in charge and in control of all things, brings that reverent, healthy emotion of respect for our Creator. Like the loving Father He is, often times when there are accounts of us coming into intimate contact with His presence, the first message is “fear not!”
In juxtaposition to the use of fear, anxiety is spoken against almost universally in the Bible and most often in the context of money and possessions. There is a clear message here for us: We are not to worry about resources. How do we do this? Jeremiah Chapter 7 has the answer: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”
The opposite of anxiety and worry about money is trust and hope. Notice also that “heat” will come, but just as a tree planted by Living Water, we shall not wither and will still bear fruit, because during that ‘year of drought’ we shall not be anxious.
When we are planning for the future through the lens of trust and hope, we will start to see times of drought as opportunities instead of obstacles. Our focus will shift from being reactive to proactive. We take time to reflect on the most important assets in our lives here, which are not money or possessions. This takes time and patience, just as it takes time for roots to grow deep into the ground. Ultimately, others around us can’t help but notice that we are bearing fruit in every season, and they are drawn to our ‘fruit,’ which leads them to know the source: The Living Water by which we are planted.