Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age by Bob Cutillo, Free for CAPC Members
Dr. Cutillo seeks to engage readers in rethinking, and re-engaging, health and care from a redemptive approach.
The following is a reprint of the Letter from the Editor for Volume 2, Issue 23 of Christ and Pop Culture Magazine: “Fear Is Here,” available for free for a limited time. You can subscribe to Christ and Pop Culture Magazine by becoming a member and you’ll receive a host of other benefits as well.
Fear is one of those common denominator emotions. All of us at some point have experienced anxiety’s burn or panic’s weight or terror’s dread; some of us find them to be daily companions. Whatever the degree, fear lurks in the shadows of our lives, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce. News reports, relational troubles, health concerns, violence, danger, embarrassment, failure—all these crank up fear’s power within us.
Our susceptibility to fear has many contributing factors: bent of personality, past trauma, current drama, and so on. Although everyone faces fear, we each face it in our own unique way, making it a rather isolating experience. The situations and trials that stir up my anxiety may do little to stir up yours, and vice versa. Because we share the susceptibility to fear, however, it should increase our ability to empathize and offer support when it knocks one of our own down for the count. At the very least, we should, by now, be well aware of the ways it attacks us personally.
When fear lands a strong punch to our gut, it triggers either a flight or fight response. Both of these reactions can be seen in the recent Ebola outbreak, which has caused quite the outcry here in the States. Although few of us have been personally affected by the outbreak, both fight and flight come through in our worry, our frustration, our opinions. For the majority of us, the level of fear remains at the “what if” status. For Jeremy Writebol, however, the fear became his here-and-now reality. In his article titled “Hugging Dad,” Writebol shares how his parents were infected with Ebola and the resulting issues it presented:
“We saw the fear rising from public comments on social media and even from members of our own families. If he was infected, if he was contagious, if he was sick, not only would we face the difficulty of getting him proper care, but we would also lose significant credibility and trust with the general public.”
Not only did Writebol have to deal with his own fear regarding his father’s health, but he also had to manage the fear of the public that gathered together through online outlets. Our hyper-connectedness often magnifies our sense of fear. Whether it’s fear from outside ourselves—such as Ebola—or fear from within, as addressed by Amanda Wortham in her article titled “Fear and the Online Selves We Hide Behind”:
“Among the many monsters the Internet has bred, one of the most inescapable must be a general sense of discontent. Social media experts have coined the phrase FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, to describe the anxiety one feels while scrolling through the highlights that ‘friends’ post online.”
That’s the thing with fear: It will find a way to haunt us, either through external threats or internal ones. None of us are immune, which may be why God’s Word gives it plenty of attention. Isaiah records this beautiful promise from God: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not look anxiously about you, for I am your God” (Isa. 41:10). God acknowledges that fear is real, that it causes us to look about in anxiety and panic. But He says we don’t have to give fear the final say. Instead, we can remember that God is with us—Jesus is our Immanuel—and that He is our God. Fear may be more powerful than us, but it’s no match for God. And in that we can find peace.
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