There are a lot of things in this world that are contagious. Certain viruses and diseases come to mind, as do laughter and yawning.
There have even been cases of contagious dancing, such as the “dance epidemic” of 1518 in Strasbourg.
But did you know that fear is also contagious?
A friend of mine was telling me how she organized a backyard sleepover in a tent for her daughter and some friends a few years ago. The children were assured that the parents would be with them in the tent all night long.
The kids were excited about this adventure, and all seemed to go well at first. Eventually, however, one little girl became afraid of the dark. It didn’t take long for another girl to become fearful as well. Pretty soon the whole thing had to be called off, despite the parents’ promises that they wouldn’t leave the children outside alone in the dark.
The other kids had “caught” the fearful attitude of the first child.
Scripture recognizes how destructive fear can be when it contaminates a whole group.
In fact, Mosaic law provided for exemption from military service for those who were afraid, since their fear could spread and dishearten the other soldiers. The scaredy-cats were told to go home, lest they cause others to lose heart.
“The officials will then add to what they have said to the soldiers: ‘Is there a man here who is afraid and fainthearted? He should go back home; otherwise his fear may demoralize his comrades as well.’ ” (Deuteronomy 20:8 CJB)
And before Gideon and his army were to fight the Midianites, God told him:
“ ‘Send home any of your men who are timid and frightened.’ So twenty-two thousand of them left, and only ten thousand remained who were willing to fight.” (Judges 7:3 TLB)
Just as it’s important to prevent fear from spreading throughout an army, it’s crucial that we not let fear contaminate our thinking. We need to quash the voices of fear, whether they originate with other people or from our own thoughts. If we don’t, fear can spread like a virus through our minds and cripple our effectiveness.
Over and over, the Bible tells us to “fear not.” Fear is not only detrimental to our peace of mind, it’s also evidence of disobedience to God. He promises that He won’t leave us alone in a tent in the dark, so to speak. When we fear, it tells God we don’t take Him at His word.
But how do we battle fear?
Through faith. The good news is that faith is contagious, too!
Surround yourself with faith-filled people who offer you words of encouragement when you’re in difficult times. Read Bible stories of people who kept the faith and saw God come through for them in a big way. Listen to uplifting testimonies of modern-day people who trusted God and with His help were able to overcome tremendous challenges.
You can “catch” their faith and it’ll increase your own.
Fear may be contagious, but so is faith!
© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.