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Hi my name is Dean Smith and in this podcast I want to talk about a strange dream that I had and how it relates to a 90-second warning.
Whether we like to admit it or not, the recent Coronavirus pandemic may be exposing some deep-rooted worries in our lives. In other words, these anxieties were already inside us and the pandemic is only exposing them.
The US Census Bureau recently released some interesting results of a national survey it conducted between April 23 and May 5, 2020 right in the middle of the COVID-19 scare.
It discovered that 30% of the people experienced bouts of worry or panic over half the days during the survey period. But what is particularly disturbing is that 22.8% said they experienced uncontrollable bouts of worry at least once a day over half the days of that same week.
A fear just fell upon them and they were unable to shake it. It was a panic attack over the Coronavirus pandemic.
And this ties to another study being conducted by University of Psychology professors from Saskatchewan and British Columbia in Canada and Texas and New York in the US who are specifically looking at the fear and worry associated with the Covid pandemic.
They surveyed about 7,000 people from different backgrounds to determine their psychological response to the Coronavirus.
According to George Amundson, a clinical psychologist at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, as governments move to end the lockdowns, there are basically three groups.
There are those at the top end, about 16%, who are extremely worried about the pandemic and who are very concerned that the lockdown may be ending too quickly.
The second level below that represents the vast majority of the people. Though, Amundsen never mentioned a percentage I suspect it is probably around 60%. This group is cautiously optimistic about the lock down ending and view COVID as less of the threat than the top group.
The bottom group, and again Amundsen gave no percentage, but it’s probably similar in size to the top group, believe that the threat of the Coronavirus is overstated and others that fall into this group would typically hold the opinion that the negative fall out from the lockdowns such as the destruction of the economy, business failures and loss of jobs are a bigger concern than the pandemic itself.
Concerning the first group who are extremely worried, Amundsen said that many of these people have, what he described as “pre-existing anxiety-related disorders.” In other words their current pandemic fear is rooted in other anxiety issues.
He also added that people in this highest anxiety level are also very concerned about the people in the bottom level who are not taking the pandemic seriously.
Recently I heard of several enraged shoppers, at least five, at a grocery store in New York who attacked a solitary woman because she was not wearing a face mask in the store. They eventually drove the woman out of the grocery store.
Fear is a powerful emotion and it will drive you to do one of three things: freeze, flee or fight, and we may be seeing at least one of those emotions being expressed in the video.
I believe fear is closely connected to worry and part of the process in dealing with our fears is first getting control of our worry.
Now, Jesus spoke a lot about worry:
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)
Jesus was talking about what some therapists refer to as future tripping — worrying today about things that haven’t even happened yet.
In this verse, Jesus told us not to worry about tomorrow because today has enough problems of its own. This leaves the impression that we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow, because we can worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.
If you get my drift.
But that is not what the Lord said, Jesus actually said that tomorrow will take care of tomorrow, not you.
What does this mean?
Well it means exactly that, researchers at Penn State had 29 people who were classified as chronic worriers write down all the things they worried about for a full month. The researchers then followed up on these people and their worries and discovered that 91% of the things they worried about did not come to pass and of the remaining 9% that seemed to, the majority were overblown or easily dealt with.
In other words, tomorrow took care of the problem, not the person. Over the natural course of time, the worries either naturally resolved themselves or they were exaggerated and just faded with time.
I love how the 16th century French philosopher Michel de Montaigne expressed this very sentiment when he wrote:
“My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.”
So this takes us back to the pandemic. Have we exaggerated our fears associated with the Coronavirus? Perhaps a bit.
In a recent article in the National Post, four Canadian epidemiologists have called for an end to the lockdown and here is the reason. They said based on Canadian statistics if you are under 65 years of age, the chances of you dying from COVID is .0006% that is three zeros after the dot and before the 6. This is the same chance of people in that age group dying from a car accident over this same period.
Now it is clear from the pandemic that the elderly and those with underlying health issues are the ones who have to be concerned. The four epidemiologists pointed out that 80% of the people who died from COVID in Canada were in nursing homes and 95% were over the age of 60.
But we see many panicking who are clearly not in those vulnerable groups.
In certain situations our biggest enemy is fear itself.
And the writer of Proverbs seems to be implying this when he wrote:
Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. Proverbs 3:25
It is a strange verse because the writer is telling us not to be afraid of fear, because it can be our biggest foe.
So how do we deal with our fear?
First admit you have a problem and depending on how serious it is you may need to seek professional counselling.
Secondly deal with the worry that may be the underlying root of your fear.
Thirdly, recognize that most of the problems you are future tripping over are not real. We have all heard of fake news, well most of us have fake worries.
Finally, claim your identity in Christ. The Apostle Paul writes:
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV)
This verse reveals one of the great mysteries of the Bible. Paul is not saying we need to have a sound mind, he says God has already given you a sound mind and that is why you should not be controlled by a spirit of fear.
In other words, you need to believe who you already are.
When you believe in Jesus you become a new creation and part of that package includes a new, sound mind. But our biggest struggle is embracing this new you.
I was reading an article on an Australian website awhile back, about a person in Perth, Australia who had won a $2.5 million lottery. They even knew where the winning ticket was purchased, but because of the delay in the person coming forward, there is concern the individual may not realize they have won. The person is essentially millionaire and doesn’t even know it.
Unfortunately, many believers are walking around in a similar condition. We don’t know all that we have in Christ. Now to be fair, it can be challenging to claim it, but it is yours.
I remember a few weeks ago I had a strange dream. It was very brief but I couldn’t shake it. In my dream I saw a man sitting in a chair, he picked up a book and as soon as he opened and saw what was in it, he put it down. Then I picked up that very same book, and saw what it was about and I immediately put it down as well. I have no idea what was in that book, I just knew it was bad.
I believe the Holy Spirit purposefully withheld its contents, because the following principle can apply to many areas of our life, ranging from worry to temptation.
What I felt the Holy Spirit was saying to me in this dream, is that we can unexpectedly see things, but we don’t have to continue reading them or thinking about them. The Holy Spirit will empower you to put that book or thought down.
This is what the Apostle Paul meant when he said in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that we need to take every though captive.
I recently read an article that when a worry or temptation comes into your mind you have about a 90 second window to deal with it. If you don’t act, it will sink its claws into you.
In other words you have 90 seconds to take that thought captive, or it will start capturing you.
Now we can’t stop thoughts from popping into our mind, because sometimes they have a demonic source, sometimes they are triggered by past events or by things happening around us, but I can stop myself from continuing to dwell on them.
Because, we not only have the authority because of our sound mind, but we also have the power through the Holy Spirit to control our thoughts and purposefully stop thinking about it.
When a thought enters your mind worrying about your kids or your finances, you need to stifle that thought.
You need to purposefully quit thinking about it and start thinking about something else.
Self-control starts in your mind, not in your actions, and you have 90 seconds to do it.
God has given you a “sound mind.”
Now believe that.