The Fear of Change

My church family is currently in a season of change as we are “resetting” certain aspects of our congregational culture in order to bring us more in alignment with Jesus’ vision for his church called “The Great Commission.”  So far, this process has produced results so amazing that they could only be “of God.”

While this is exciting and faith-affirming for some, others keep assuming and expecting the worst (however they define it) to happen.

And that’s because people generally have two reactions to change of any kind: (1) Some focus on the opportunities to grow, to improve, and to make things better, which allows them to respond to change in positive ways; (2) Some allow the fear of the unknown to dictate their attitudes, behaviors, and perspectives, which usually creates a spirit of criticism and negativity.

What’s important to note is that each reaction is a matter of choice and that choice is predicated upon our object of focus.

I know this because of personal experience and because of what Scripture teaches.

Here are two examples from the Bible:

  1. In Psalm 13, David is enduring a difficult circumstance and he feels abandoned by God.  He begins the psalm with this cry, “How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?”  But he ends the psalm with this statement of resolve: “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”  In the midst of hardship due to a change in his circumstances, David made a deliberate choice to focus on the goodness of God and to walk by faith instead of fear.
  2. The book of Lamentations consists of five poems expressing the Israelites’ grief over the Babylonians’ invasion of Jerusalem.  The king’s palace, the Temple, and the city walls had been razed.  A long siege of the city had left many dead, ill, and suffering from famine.  Families had been deported to Babylon.  And along with overwhelming physical and social devastation came the collapse of the community’s theological and symbolic world.  Yet, in the middle of these lamentations we find these inspiring words: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him” (Lamentations 3:23-24).  Again, in the midst of harsh change, we see people choosing faith over fear.

In each of these examples, we find people who refuse to allow themselves to be lead by their emotions and who refuse to give in to their fear of the unknown.  Instead, they chose to focus on God – on his will, his purposes, his love, his strength, his mercies.  This choice enabled them to walk through their season of change with integrity, positivity, and grace.

Perhaps you are going through a season of change in your life right now and you’re not sure how everything is going to turn out.  If so, I encourage you to embrace the opportunity to grow in your faith that every change presents by training yourself to focus on God more than on your circumstances.

Change might be inevitable, but we all can choose how we handle change.

So, which choice will you make?

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