I hear fear. I hear it every day. I believe it is because fear sells, fear makes people a lot of money, and smart people have figured out how to make tons of it preying upon and stoking our fears. Christians express fear out loud quite often. The fears are varied and they are constant. We’re anxious about so many different kinds of perceived danger and threat to our personal safety, to our “religious freedoms,” to our way of life. We’re more aware now than ever before about our societal woes and political insecurities–it surrounds us.

We are allowing our fears and burdens to overwhelm us and, as a consequence, the common ground even in our churches has eroded. Very much like the world we are in but not of, our space and capacity for rational conversation is disappearing. We’re not really talking anymore, we don’t have the desire or sense the need to listen to anybody with whom we disagree. One buzz word or catch phrase from another person and we’ve got them immediately labeled and tagged so there’s no need for conversation.

Today, I am largely stealing from Sandra McCracken’s article in the latest issue of Christianity Today. You can find her article here. If you don’t read the whole thing, please give a couple of minutes to these important excerpts. I pray these words are an encouragement to you and a challenge if and where you need it.

Unchecked fear keeps us on the run and fuels our disagreements, but God’s power and providence over us allow us to find security in his care. When we look to him, he will deliver us from all our fears and give us the wisdom to navigate the complexities we face.

We need wisdom in troubled times, but we cannot conjure it by ourselves. If we seek him, God’s wisdom abounds to us–the same wisdom that enables him to be the one who “breaks the bow and shatters the spear,” and “makes wars cease to the ends of the earth” (Psalm 46:9). These passages outline God’s poetic power, and the psalm concludes with a word to us: “Be still and know that I am God… I will be exalted in the earth” (46:10).

In an anxious age, this stillness might be just one of our greatest acts of worship. Before you watch or read the news, stillness. Before you cast your vote, stillness. Before you make dinner, stillness. To worship God in this way is to point to his faithfulness, past, present, and future. It bolsters our hearts to endure more of this present reality–not as avoiders or cynics, but as messengers of hope.

When our anxious fears take their place under the holy fear of the Lord, we become teachable (Proverbs 1:7). The fear of the Lord calls us to admit when we’re wrong. The fear of the Lord gives us courage to speak up for what is right, even when it’s unpopular. And the fear of the Lord reminds us that we are not our own but belong to Christ, that he is God and we are not. He draws us out of hiding, engaging us to be ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).