Teenagers and Election Season: Is Fear More Infectious than Faith?
It is amazing how two words can seem so bland and powerless when read without the other. Then put them together and they become some of the most debilitating words ever spoken. These two simple words have the ability to send our minds into a downward spiral of frightening scenarios.
What if I fail? What if everything goes wrong? What if I never get my chance?
We are currently in a cultural season where so many things are changing – from the political to the economic to the educational realms. We are living in the midst of one big “What If.” Especially as the impending presidential election looms before us, most of us feel more concerned than ever about the future. Yet, what has surprised me the most is how our students are not blind to this tension and fear. While some will be voting for the first time, others who are younger are concerned over an election which they have no role in or control over.
This election, more than any other, has seemed to draw the attention of students who usually would not think twice about politics. Why? I believe the answer to this question comes back to us as leaders and parents.
Allow me to explain.
The other day I listened to a song called “Call This Home” by An Atlas to Follow. One of the first lines of the song caught my attention and caused me to pause:
“Fear is more infectious than faith.”
I was so stuck on this one line that I actually missed the rest of the song. The words struck me because I deeply wanted to refute their reality. I wanted to write the band and tell them they were mistaken. But the more I thought on these simple words, the more I understood, and the more I agreed.
Our fear is contagious, because we believe in it so deeply ourselves. We often become so overcome by our fears that they are first off of our tongues. We speak of our fears repeatedly, grasping for whatever flicker of comfort we can find. However, more often than not, the result of our talk is not healing, but contamination. We pass along our fears like a disease.
To be honest, all too often I too play the child of “Doubting Thomas” – who (though told by Christ Himself) still refused to believe in the resurrection until he had physical proof. Christ responded to Thomas’ lack of faith so clearly:
“Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’” (John 20:29).
Oh, how I relate to Thomas.
I literally hold the Word of our Lord – a Word that is living and active – in my hands and I am given promise upon promise and truth upon truth. Yet, I continue to question, “what if…”
I fear the unknown. I fear the future. And this fear is passed on to my students.
Yes, of course we should be mindful of the changes going on around us. We should also be active in them, praying and participating along the way. We hold a responsibility as citizens of this country to honor our position in the political system, which is a vital role in electing our new leaders. More than that though, we must commit to play this part while holding fast to the truth we know.
Our students need to see that while we may be citizens of this country, we are foremost citizens of a much greater land. God’s purpose, just like His character, is unchanging. He is immutable; His promise cannot fail.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).
THIS IS OUR FATHER. No matter the changes we see come November, our Lord will never change. His promises are forever true; His victory is unalterably won.
As I thought more about that song and the idea of fear as contagious, I realized that – while I could not deny the truth in those lyrics – it was not the whole truth. The words lose their power in light of genuine faith.
True faith is contagious – more contagious than fear.
This is what our students should be seeing in us. When we view God for who He is – unchangeable and good – and allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by His glory, THIS will be the first off our tongue. We will find ourselves spending more time talking about His unwavering truth than about our wavering world. Our fear will fade in light of our faith. We will give testimony of the “peace that surpasses understanding” to a nation that is so desperately seeking peace.
It is this kind of faith – faith in a God who cannot change – that is contagious.
May the words of A.W. Tozer resonate in our hearts, and in the hearts of our concerned students, during this fear-filled season: “What peace it brings to the Christian’s heart to realize that our Heavenly Father never differs from Himself … O Christ our Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. As conies to their rock, so have we run to Thee for safety; as birds from their wanderings, so have we flown to Thee for peace. Chance and change are busy in our little world of nature and men, but in Thee we find no variableness nor shadow of turning. We rest in Thee without fear or doubt and face our tomorrows without anxiety. Amen.”