By Daniel Fusco, Crosswalk.com
If you're anything like I am, I love knowing what's going on in the world. I enjoy being up to date on the latest happenings. And I absolutely love having unlimited access to all the world's information at our fingertips. It's one of the cool things about being alive right now.
But there is a shadow side to everything, including all the information and news we have access to. We're all experiencing it - an overwhelming sense of anxiety has crept into our hearts and minds. For some, it's easy to identify, and for others, it is more subtle. As a culture, we are more on edge, angrier, and less hopeful than ever before. We find ourselves struggling, languishing, and desiring to escape it all.
Many people don't know how to cope with the deluge of bad news, insane events, and overwhelming mountains of distressful information coming their way. But what if I told you that you can unlock the resilience you've always wanted with a few simple guardrails? What if I told you that you can still be "up to speed" on everything while not feeling like your soul is being wrecked?
Let's take a quick journey and explore how to establish those guardrails.
Jesus invites us to live upward, inward, and outward.
When you think of everything happening in the world, it's happening outside of you. It's not happening to you directly. At the same time, whatever's happening impacts how you feel about the world and the things you're reading and hearing about. So the news of the day occurs outward, but it impacts you inwardly. The news can drive your thoughts, emotions, and mood. And then, after all that, if we have any bandwidth left, you try to frame things spiritually.
But Jesus does things differently. Instead of living outward and then allowing that to affect us inward, Jesus says we should first live upward by loving and focusing on God. Let God's love for you drive how you think, feel and act before you read or hear any news, check your Facebook feed, or swipe through Instagram. And then, after meeting with God and allowing him to tune your inward thoughts to his frequency, you are ready to move out into the world. This upward, inward, outward lifestyle comes right out of Jesus' greatest commandment in Matthew 22:36-40.
Do you see how we often have that order backward? Jesus says to live upward, inward, and outward. But left to our own devices, we end up living outward, inward, then upward. It's essential to make a plan to get up every morning and flip the order first and always!
We need to remember that a narrative is not normative.
We always tend to totalize the news stories that we hear. It's one of our coping mechanisms to help us feel safe in a chaotic, confusing world. We hear a story, and then we normalize it to everyone in a certain group. We read about something and immediately move from that one person or a small handful of people and transfer it onto everyone in a certain group. The problem is this is both unwise and unrealistic. A tragic news story is not about everyone. It's actually just about that one situation. A troubling thing that happened in one neighborhood does not necessarily relate to ours. So, let's be careful not to make every story normative for everyone. Because when we do that, we become bitter toward the world we live in. We are always looking for the worst things to happen and expecting the worst from other people. And that makes the world around us a much worse place.
To make this even more challenging, we never normalize the "feel good" stories we hear. It's only the negative ones. Many studies say we're more likely to remember the negative things than the positive ones. Whenever we hear about someone doing something kind, thoughtful, or beautiful, we think it's nice. But we never think that everyone is like that. But with a negative story, we tend to extend the tragedy to more people and become a little more negative ourselves, story after story. It's important to keep things in perspective and remember that positive things are happening all around us, all the time. I like to say that Jesus always desires to remake the world in his image; we just need to look for how we can jump in and be part of the great adventure.
We need to remember that Jesus works in and through the mess.
As a pastor and author, I often talk to people struggling in different areas of their life. When things are good, people are good. They're joy-filled and excited. And as people of faith, we can see the hand of God at work in our circumstances. But when things are a mess, or complicated, or broken, often it's very hard to see God at work at all.
But I'm here to tell you that Jesus works in and through life's messes. We should never divorce Jesus from life's struggles because he is already intimately acquainted with them. When Jesus went to the Cross, he received the punishment for all the sins ever committed. So, whatever the cause of our mess is, Jesus knows it. And when we invite him into the center of the tragedies we face, Jesus will do the most incredible work of transformation.
So, my friend, invite Jesus into it all. And watch how his presence will unlock resilience in and through your life. The more you experience his faithful care and remember who he is, what he has done, and what he is doing, the more you will go through life hearing and experiencing the hard things and hearing God whisper peace to deep places of your soul, as you hope in the incredible future that he has waiting for you.
Daniel Fusco is an author, church planter, and the lead pastor of Crossroads Community Church (part of Calvary Chapel) in Vancouver, Washington. His radio program, Jesus Is Real Radio, is broadcast across the country, and his TV show, Real with Daniel Fusco, airs across the globe. He also hosts the popular Crazy Happy with Daniel Fusco podcast and is the author of Crazy Happy and You’re Gonna Make It: Unlocking Resilience When Life Is a Mess (Waterbrook; on sale 9/13/22). He has written for USAToday.com and PreachingToday.com. Fusco and his wife, Lynn, have three children and reside in southwest Washington. For more information, visit him at danielfusco.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.