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Pastor Thom Bryant

Connecting - November 2020


Fear and Change

Happy Thanksgiv... wait. What? I know it is November and the calendar says Thanksgiving is right around the corner, but it is still very much 2020. This year has thrown so much at all of us. Social distancing, cancellations, closures, changes, restrictions, a derecho, politics, and even a snow squall in October have definitely taken their tolls on all of us this year. It is to the point where many of us are so tired that we're giving up trying to guess what could possibly be next, even if that guess meant hope.

Loss aversion has us fearfully clinging to whatever piece of "normal" we can still find. Fear of change has always been one of the most powerful forces in life. We remind each other often that Scripture tells us to "fear not" 365 times and there just happen to be 365 days in a year. We forget that in almost every instance that phrase is used to answer fear of change, not harm. Its context is just as important as its frequency... which should remind us that major change is a frequent occurrence.

Part of our human condition is that we usually equate change to loss, especially when we are not the ones in control of that change. Our perceptions begin to shift. We focus on negative feelings or potential outcomes to a point where we can become blind to any positive potential or tangible happenings in the process. We even get into a win/lose mindset that will ultimately drive us into fight, flight, or freeze responses. Guess what?

God knows this. God tried to stop us from ever tasting that fruit... but we did. Each and every day since, from generation to generation for millennia, God has been trying to show us that we need not fear. Adam and Eve found shelter and clothing, Abraham's son lived, Noah sailed and found dry ground, Joseph's family ate their fill, and Egyptian soldiers were crushed by walls of seawater. Yet still we cried to return to slavery rather than follow the cloud and pillar for another day. God really knows this... and us... and you.

That is why we were given Jesus. To take up all of our sins, that are almost always driven by those fears, and give us another day to cleanly attempt to "fear not". He calls us to live in a way that simply doesn’t make sense unless God is real. He spent his entire ministry changing and challenging the status quo of the material world and its judging of those choosing to do what is right instead of expected. To see the positive and good in each other and be grateful for the ways we have been gifted and provided for.

We live in an age where technology enables us to be in contact with each other like never before, distribute life essentials and luxuries with a tap of a fingertip, and share information at lighting speeds. With all that this year has thrown our way, Thanksgiving should be different than it has been for generations. Not just because of the things we should do to keep ourselves and community healthy, but because God has been and is working in these changes just as in those stories above from Scripture.

Let's not just try to give thanks around a table the way we always have. Let's be in a season of gratitude together for all of the faces, places, days and ways that God is showing us to "fear not" these changes. 2020 hasn't been easy for any of us and we will come out of this better than we were. God knows this and we know the best of it is... God is with us!

Pastor Thom