Fear Sells and We Are Buying It and Making It Cool

pillar of cloud

This little Bible nugget comes from our sermon from March 22 but it is also a common theme throughout the Exodus story.

Exodus 14:10-12 - As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

Fear. Fear lies to us. Fear makes you think that going back to slavery in Egypt is the right thing.

We treat fear like a friend. Like fear is for us, like fear will protect us.

We think fear gives us control over our world. So fear is justified. We use fear to justify so much.

Fear leads us to search for certainty somewhere. Like fear itself is going to stop bad things from happening to you.

Fear will exhaust you. Fear fills you with “never enough” doubts.

Fear is always lying to us that we are in control of something.

Fear drives you into certainty no matter who you trample on to get your life certain again. Fear is an adrenaline-junkie exhausting you, keeping you in a frenzy, and a persistent source of shame and regret.

Lying to you that you are keeping your uncertain world safe.

The thing about befriending fear is that you get comfortable with it. You start to believe fear itself keeps you safe and prevents bad things from happening. If you stay vigilant, nothing bad is going to happen. Being hyper-vigilant in fear, which you’ve renamed as protective love, does nothing to change the world around you.

Note:  This truth was written well before we started living in the COVID-19 world. This truth will still be true when we can get our lives back to normal fears. Hopefully this time living with more truth than fear. Because fear likes to keep our world small.

We live in this ever-increasing, anxiety-filled world. Our children and teens are growing up in this anxiety-filled world. I’ve been a youth pastor since 1981 so I know that teens have never suffered from anxiety as much as they do now. This concerns me.

What do Americans do when there is a new problem to stress about? We create a market out of it. We try to buy our way back into comfort.

We have created markets for adult coloring books, essential oils, and numerous other new products designed to calm us down–despite the little scientific data support to know if any of these work.

So what if there is little scientific data, we’d rather buy our way back into comfort.

The empty shelves at our regular grocery stores these current weeks have proven this yet again.

Anything to find some control over our unsettled world. If we can purchase that control, all the better.

Fear is the driver here. Fear is marketable.

Here is an old market now suddenly made new—survival kits. Purchasing and gifting survival kits is popular right now. In 2017, the global market for “incident and emergency management” was valued at $75.5 billion. By 2025, Allied Research Marketing projects it will jump to $423 billion. After decades of such survival kits being relegated to the “survivalist” subcultures or extreme religious sects, you can now purchase versions created for weathering all sorts of storms at Costco or even Pottery Barn. Source.

Search for this topic on Instagram and you will see how Millennials are making owning a survival kit cool.

survival kit

(photo credit: YouTube)

Think about this for a moment. To own a survival kit is now fashionably cool. To prepare yourself for the end of the world is fashionably cool.

(Gen Z and Millennials increasingly believe the world is going to end. Not when Jesus returns but that it is going to end.)

Watch for masks to become a part of fashion. Masks. Because masks are becoming increasingly necessary. Not just for coronavirus protection. Masks are increasingly being sold for toxic air pollution. If a wildfire broke out near you (as is happening all the more), you need a mask. Masks are now being worn to counter facial recognition technology. Oh the wicked web of technology.

fashionable masks

Photo Credit

Check out Instagram again. This new generation is finding ways to make mask-wearing cool. And fashionable.

Does that disturb you too? Fear is being sold and is now cool?

What sort of world are our teens growing up into? A world that will sell them something for fear and they will then Instagram it. Now fear is normalized.

Fear is not our normal. Especially not our normal as Christians. An oft-quoted verse is For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7.

We quote this verse while befriending fear as a means to control our world.

I’m okay with taking precautions for COVID-19 and preparing for emergency situations. This is wisdom. I’m not okay with making this cool.

And I’m sad that the Millennials are now being called the “worry generation.” I’m sad that our teens are so afraid to fail and are anxious with fear.

As for me, I’m choosing to live slightly braver. I’m choosing the vulnerability of power, love, and self-discipline and to trust God for the outcome. There is vulnerability in this. But there is also a bigger world for me if I do.

I choose the bigger world.

Eyes open to this normalizing of fear. And hopefully eyes open to your own choice to live slightly braver.

Because as we are learning through this Exodus story (this is just one other nugget out of a rich story) this is God’s promise in our fear.

God is in the darkness

I am not alone as I live slightly braver.