2016 has been a year of considerable tranquility albeit sporadic upheavals across the globe. The only region of the world that relentlessly and soundly defied serenity is Middle East. Unprecedented turbulence and bloodshed punctuated Syria, Iraq and Yemen (Remember the 5 year old Syrian boy Omran Daqneesh sitting in an ambulance, terrified and wiping blood off his dusty face courtesy of indiscriminate bombings!). There were also intermittent terror activities in Europe. Daesh either claimed responsibility or offered congratulatory messages to perpetrators.
Other events that shook our planet included the Election of Donald Trump; Rise in Zika Virus cases; Brexit; North Korea nuclear tests; Air crashes and failed coup d’état in Turkey.
Pew Research Centre informed us that women are generally more religious than men. This is according to a study that was carried out in up to 84 countries at the beginning of year 2016. It was also found that more women than men consider religion one of the most important aspect of their lives. Interestingly more women than men pray.
The environmentalists had a sigh of relief in July when Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers reported that the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica was finally shrinking.
We are about to begin 2017 and as human beings, we have inclinations towards the fear of the unknown. When Vasco da Gama sailed across the Indian Ocean, people were frightened he may never reach the Subcontinent India, which was his aim. People were afraid Christopher Columbus may reach the end of the world as he sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. He ended up in the New World. We can only discover new worlds when we muster our fears.
We fear consuming GMO food products. We fear how people will react if we do what we are planning to do. We fear outcome of political decisions. We fear outcome of economic decisions. We fear starting new projects. We fear school examination results. We fear the response of a job interview. I mean the fear of unknown is real, and every one of us has faced it at some point. Psychologists suggest that we generally like to be in a position where we can anticipate consequences.
I am trying to imagine how Abraham felt when God asked him to move his entire household without informing him where they were going (Gen. 12:1-3). Fear of the unknown, and fear in general, always has “what ifs.”
This can get so paralyzing that we may never be able to do anything. We tend to camp at the rehearsal stage and fail to take the examination, the test, the interview, the new dimension of life. We are caught up in paralysis of analysis, splitting hairs, looking for needles in haystack, mark timing, dillydallying, double-mindedness. We adjourn important activities because we are waiting for the right time, which may never come.
A legendary story is told of a character called Nasrudin. Nasrudin was walking unaccompanied at night when he suddenly saw a group of people approaching in a distance. Straightaway, his mind began to toy with him: “They are surely robbers!” he supposed. “No, why just robbers? Murderers, cutthroats! About to pounce on me, a lonely traveler, leave me for dead and steal all my belongings! How are my wife and children going to muddle through without me?!”
His heart began to hit redline. His mouth became as dry the Sahara desert and his palms wet with profuse sweat. He trembled from head to toe and breathed as fast as a sprinter who had been forced to run Boston marathon.
Having completely beaten himself with trepidation, he lurched into an immediate cemetery and cringed inside an open tomb, awaiting his fatal fate. In the meantime, the innocent strangers, concerned by his theatrical behavior, advanced towards him and asked, “What, pray, are you doing down there?”
Nasrudin twitchily, said: “Well, put it this way: I am here because of you and you are here because of me!”
Nasrudin’s fear of the unknown drives him into the tombs. How many times do we allow fear to drive us into funny places? How many times do we succumb to fear and end up in graveyard – spiritual graveyard, social graveyard, financial graveyard, intellectual graveyard…………..?
Nasrudin is a historically debated character (just like King Arthur of England and Ragnar Lodbrok of the Vikings), but we can glean gems of wisdom from his stories. In Turkey, he is known as Nasreddin, a Middle Ages character. He is also claimed by the Afghans, Iranians, Uzbeks, and Arabs as well as some areas of western China. He had other spellings of his names such as Nazrudin and Nazrudeen. The most esteemed Mullah indicated that all spellings were acceptable when they were on invitations to dinner.
Rudyard Kipling, who lived a century ago, had this to say about fear, “Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.”
So how do we combat fear of the unknown?
We have a very powerful arrow in our quiver that can bring fear crumbling down. The Bible calls it faith. I do not mean it is that easy. But I do want t create an impression that things are that easy. But I do believe that it is possible to decimate fear by hearing the word of God. Hearing the word of God should be a lifestyle.
The International Standard Version in Romans 10:17 put it this way, “Consequently, faith results from listening, and listening results through the word of the Messiah.” The unction in the Word swells our faith. And it follows that the gigantic faith dislodges fear from our hearts. Mix it with a culture of prayer, blend it with a lifestyle of praise and top it up with a regime fellowship.
Here below are some of the Scriptures to meditate on as we usher in the New Year 2017.
Hence we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?”
Never worry about anything. Instead, in every situation let your petitions be made known to God through prayers and requests, with thanksgiving. Then God’s peace, which goes far beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your hearts and minds in union with the Messiah Jesus.
I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all of my fears.
Why are you in despair, my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for once again I will praise him, since his presence saves me.
“So never worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
As we meditate on the above Scriptures, we can joyfully hum our way into 2017.
Cast your burdens unto Jesus, for He cares for you. (2x)
Higher higher, higher higher higher higher, higher higher,
Lift Jesus higher.
Lower lower, lower lower lower lower, lower lower,
Stomp Satan lower.
Deeper deeper, deeper deeper deeper deeper, deeper deeper,
His love is deeper.
Wider wider, wider wider wider wider, wider wider,
His love is wider.
Super super, super super super super, super super,
See you 2017!