Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Contagious Virus

Last week we were supposed to get together with another family and at the last minute my friend called to let us know that one of her kids had chicken pox. We opted not to go, even though my husband and myself have had it, and our kids have both had light cases... just because we felt it was prudent not to expose ourselves to it. In past years we have gotten flu shots because we have not wanted to catch or spread the flu virus. When one of our kids has come down with strep throat, my immediate thought has been, "Oh no! Who else have we exposed?" or "Where did we catch this??" We are careful to wash hands and use hand sanitizer (especially when we travel) so that we don't catch any "bugs."

But there's something more contagious that often we don't guard against: fear.

Amy Carmichael says, "Have you ever thought how infectious fear can be? It spreads from one person to another more quickly and certainly than any of the fevers we know so well.

You can refuse the spirit of fear, which never comes to us from God. (And if He does not send it to us, who does?) Instead, open your heart wide to the Spirit of "power and love and a calm and well-balanced mind, and discipline and self-control." (2 Timothy 1:7, Amplified). Because fear is so infectious, let us, for the sake of others and ourselves, refuse it."

I think we, as women, often don't "refuse it." We share it! We sit in groups having coffee while our kids play and discuss our fears, sharing what we're most afraid of, and... exposing each other to it. When someone shares a fear with me, I usually do one of two things: I think to myself, "Oh, I've never been afraid of that. That's not a struggle of mine." (Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 1 Cor. 10:12) Or I think, "Oh, you're right! That could happen. Wow, I never thought of that..." and fear takes root. At both points, I can refuse it... take that thought captive to Christ, resist the fear.

It's not that we shouldn't ever share, but that we should take care how we share and with whom, I think. When I have an illness I cancel appointments with my friends but I make one with the doctor. I limit exposing those who might be vulnerable to it, and go to someone like a doctor who is not only equipped for exposure, but able to help. Maybe instead of broadcasting my fears far and wide at gatherings of friends, I should share them with someone who I know is walking firmly with the Lord, who can commit to pray with me about it or offer advice from his or her own victory.

Carmichael says, "Thank God courage is as "infectious" as discouragement. Haven't you often felt the cheer and strength that seem to flow from a person whose mind is fixed and firm on God? I have." I have, too. Not only do I want to be around that type of person, I want to be that person. Sometimes I am. I have been in the past. But repeated exposure to the fears of others can weaken me, I've found, if I don't regularly inoculate myself with Truth and limit my exposure to the "fear virus."

She says, "When we are downhearted or fearful or weak, we are saying to everybody (by the way we look and by our timidity, if not by our words), 'After all, the Lord can't be absolutely trusted.' "

And that is more dangerous than any virus that's out there right now. We must, for the sake of ourselves and others, refuse fear and not spread it. Let's remind each other of our Savior Who has never, not once, failed us.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 1 John 4:18

"Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord." Psalm 31:24


Mindy said...

Thanks for this reminder that we don't have to accept that spirit of fear!
Have a great Tuesday!
In HIM -

Linda said...

This is very wise advice Cyndi. I can remember as a child overhearing the adults talking about a terrible crime and being fearful for years afterward that that would happen to me and my family. Fear is so very easily caught.
It is our faith that we need to be spreading - not our fear. So well written as always dear friend.

emily said...

Hi Cyndi!! Wonderful and inspiring and convicting post. I linked to it on my blog!

I've been lurking on your blog for awhile since linking to it from a WFMW at Shannon's! I LOVED your idea for a special prayer Bible and praying the Scriptures and it has really encouraged me!!!! Your genuineness and warmth is so evident in your blog- Thanks!!

Emily (age 19) :-) http://www.livejournal.com/users/emilyg_123

Dandelion Momma-Janis said...

Fear is one of my big problems. Fear of failing, fear of success, fear of trying, fear of...well, you get the idea. Thanks for the reminder that we don't have to take that fear onto ourselves!

Family O'Foxes said...

I read this at the right moment..:) I was convicted lastnight of my mouth and the words I was saying... a bunch of us moms were sharing our "fears" of this child who joined the gym (he was at the other gym we all left). Boy, did it spread like wildfire and I was in the middle of it. The coach informed us to stop and let him be the coach and decide what happens. And that everyone that comes to this gym deserves a clean slate. I had apologized to the other moms that I was in the middle of sharing our fears with and also told them what I found out from the coach.

It reminds me of the Veggie Tale movie (the rumor weed).

Thanks again.

Susanne said...

A very interesting post, Cyndi! Financial fear is my big one right now so this really spoke to me.

Jenny in Ca said...

great thoughts Cyndi. You are right, fear can be catching, I never really gave it much thought. I have been in situations a few times where mob rule was beginning and/or did happen, and it was like you could taste the fear in the air.

I guess we can determine to be the answer, the child of the King with whom fear hits a wall, the person those in the midst of fear can turn to for wise counsel and for prayer and encouragement.

great post.

Chappyswife said...

This is just so very awesome! I really needed to hear this.