Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fear . . . and the Media

In his first inaugural address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” But he never heard about commercial jets flying into giant skyscrapers; bridges collapsing without warning; tainted peanut butter; crazed shooters on school campuses; spiking oil prices, or swine flu.

Or a relentless media that delights in preying on our fears.

In our ever-changing world we have learned to expect the unexpected. Swine flu’s the latest example; it certainly won’t be the last. Last week frenzied news reports sparked concerns that swine flu (now officially known as H1N1 virus) could become the 21st century version of the black plague. The world, as we knew it, seemed poised at the brink of calamity.

Not to belittle potential health risks, but common flu reportedly kills 36,000 people in the U.S. each year, yet somehow life goes on. I suspect the collective media had wearied of bantering about the economy and leaped at a chance to babble about anything different – at least temporarily.

How quickly our inner anxieties boil to the surface. Even if you’re not fearful now, just wait – the media will find something to worry us about.

If our trust is in the government, economy, or human nature, we have every reason to be afraid. But if our hope and faith are in God, fear need not be a constant companion.

In 1 John 4:18 it says, “perfect love drives out fear.” God’s love for us is perfect, even though our love for Him may not be. Despite global terrorism, disease, economic gloom and doom – or personal problems – we can trust Him without fail. As Hebrews 12:28 tells us, “since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”

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