If you follow the stock market, you might be familiar with something called the Volatility Index. Sometimes called the “fear index,” it gauges the market’s anxiety level.
When investors are fearful and markets are in turmoil, the volatility index spikes higher. Now happens to be one of those times, thanks to fears over the impact of the coronavirus.
It made me wonder, do our hearts have a “volatility index” of their own?
And if they do, what can we do to keep our emotions on an even keel, when our circumstances might give us every reason to panic? How can we find peace even in the midst of turmoil?
We may not have a visible indication that fear is getting the better of us, such as a meter with a needle moving into the red zone or a sharply rising line on a graph. But we have other signs that fear is causing a distressing amount of volatility in our hearts:
We might start losing sleep over a problem, or have a sinking feeling in the pit of our stomach. We could become jittery at work or short-tempered with our family. Our health may start to suffer as we develop symptoms caused by stress and anxiety.
Our fears might cause us to become depressed and to withdraw from activities we normally enjoy. We may turn to substances to dull the feeling of dread, or to hours of games or media consumption as a form of escape.
No matter what our symptoms, it’s clear when the signals are flashing red in our lives. And the truth is, sometimes we go through trials that are very difficult to handle, and it’s entirely natural that they would cause us anxiety:
Maybe you’ve heard that your company will be engaging in another round of layoffs, and you fear you may lose your job. Or your marriage has been on shaky ground for years and the road ahead doesn’t look good.
Perhaps you’re feeling crushed by a burden of debt and don’t see a way out, or your teen is in trouble with the law (again). It could be that you’re awaiting test results from your doctor, and you fear the news could be bad.
How do we deal with the fears that cause our hearts to become turbulent with anxiety? Does the Bible have any answers for us?
I believe it does. For millennia, believers in God have turned to Scripture for hope when facing troubled times. There we learn that God promises He will be with us when we’re afraid:
“Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
God knows that we have a tendency to fret and be anxious in response to circumstances that are distressing. Fear is spoken of hundreds of times in the Bible, but a constant refrain is for us to “fear not.”
Jesus had to remind His disciples not to fear when they thought they were all about to drown in a boat on a tempest-tossed sea:
“ ‘Why are you so afraid? You have so little faith!’ Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.” (Matthew 8:26)
The disciples were so focussed on the storm and the tumultuous waves that they seemingly forgot who was in the boat with them: Jesus, the Creator of the Universe. When you have Jesus aboard, He’ll make sure you get through the stormy sea to the other side, no matter how bad it looks.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The key to vanquishing fear and replacing it with peace is Jesus. He promised to give us His peace and said, “Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Believe in Him and trust Him. He’s got your back. Whatever challenge you’re facing, He’ll see you through it.
Bill and Gloria Gaither summed this up perfectly in their song, “Because He Lives”:
“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives.”
Can we have peace of mind in the midst of distressing circumstances? Can we calm the volatility of our hearts?
Because of Jesus, we can.
© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.