Overcoming the Fears of This Generation
Do you fear the wrong things? Most people do. It is because they lack knowledge of the cause and meaning of the world’s fears. This article proves that you can really overcome fear and find the happiness and confidence that stem from knowledge.
FEAR has enveloped this generation. Everywhere people are in fear. They fear insecurity. They fear hunger. They fear disease. They fear neighbors. They fear governments. They fear war. They fear knowledge. They even fear fear. That is why, not long ago, Adlai Stevenson declared: “The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live.”
Recent reports show that the Russian people are dominated in all situations by fear. But the so-called free world is little better. A wave of neighbor fear has so paralyzed thinking that Dr. F. H. Sanford, executive secretary of the American Psychological Association, said that a “what will people think?” disease is driving mankind, from cab driver to scientist, toward strait-jacketed thinking and lock-step living.—Science News Letter, April 16, 1955.
Throughout history, whenever there were times of crisis or disaster, men still looked to the future, if not with confidence, at least with hope. Now that has changed. “Since the breakdown of public order during the First World War,” writes Walter Lippmann in The Public Philosophy, “there has been no security for multitudes and no ease of mind for anyone.”
Scientists, who know the power of the atom as no layman does, rightly fear the future. Even before the destructiveness of the hydrogen bomb was fully realized, Dr. Harold C. Urey, Nobel Prize winner and atomic scientist, declared: “Freedom from fear? We will eat fear, sleep in fear, live in fear and die in fear.”
Philosophers, despite their clever cogitations, cannot ignore or dispel the climate of fear. Bertrand Russell, writing for the New York Times Magazine of September 27, 1953, said: “Ever since 1914, everybody conscious of trends in the world has been deeply troubled by what has seemed like a fated and predetermined march toward ever greater disaster.” Then he spotlighted the gloom for the future by saying: “Many serious people have come to feel that nothing can be done to avert the plunge towards ruin.”
Politicians and statesmen cannot find the way out of the anguished climate of fear. Bewildered and dismayed, they speak words of pessimism. For instance, Adlai Stevenson candidly looked at the future this way: “We are never going to solve many of the hard problems of the world, but will simply have to learn to live with them for years and maybe for centuries.” (Time, November 22, 1954) For a politician that is straight talking. No rosy promises, just the unvarnished facts.
OVERCOMING FEAR WITH KNOWLEDGE
“In losing the easy optimism of a preceding generation,” said the secretary-general of the United Nations recently, “we must not act as though we had also lost the deep conviction of our predecessors of the value of knowledge.” Yet that is what great masses of mankind have done. They fear knowledge, a prime weapon to combat fear. So do not fear knowledge. What is that knowledge that is of paramount importance in overcoming fear? It is knowledge of the meaning of the odd characteristics of this generation, its unprecedented global fear and fear of the future.
Who can give us the key to the meaning of such things as this? Certainly it is futile to imbibe the mental regurgitations of fear-struck worldlings, who readily admit they are floundering in the fog of fear. Rather we must go to one who speaks authoritatively, namely, the Son of God, Christ Jesus. In response to a question concerning the consummation of this system of things, the greatest prophet who ever lived said: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes and in one place after another pestilences and food shortages, and there will be fearful sights.”—Luke 21:10, 11, NW.
“Fearful sights” were thus foretold as a sign of the “last days.” These “fearful sights” in themselves do not make up the “last days” sign; but when they occur with the other foretold woes upon one generation, as they do now, the sign of the “last days” has become visible.
These “fearful sights” were not to be the usual fearful sights, the kind of fears that man has often had. Oh no, for the great Prophet stressed the uniqueness of these “fearful sights” when he said that there would be “on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.” (Luke 21:25, 26, NW) Note what this means: First, such anguish and fear among the nations that even the most astute statesmen will not be able to find a way out; in other words, such intense fear world-wide that it stands unprecedented in the history of man. Second, men becoming “faint out of fear.” Why? Because of “expectation of things coming,” fear of the very future itself. The odd characteristics of our time mark the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy.
So since 1914 this generation, the generation that knows fear as no other generation has, is living in the “last days,” “the time of the end,” or that time when a corrupt, wicked system of things is doomed to pass away to make room for a righteous new world of God’s making. It is at the culmination of this transition period that the war of Armageddon will occur. It will be the greatest fear-inspiring event of all ages, past or future, for as Jesus declared it is that “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.”—Matt. 24:21, NW.
Most people, then, fear the wrong things. They fear their neighbors or they fear nations. Rather, they should fear Armageddon. They should fear it because it will destroy their world and them, too, if they remain with it. But of this the mass of mankind are ignorant. And ignorance breeds fear of the wrong things. So now is the time to face the facts fearlessly, especially since it is this generation that is face to face with Armageddon. Warned Jesus: “Truly I say to you, This generation will by no means pass away until all things occur [including Armageddon].”—Luke 21:32, NW.
Really, you need not even fear Armageddon if you obtain knowledge and act upon that knowledge. Why? Because the woes and events that go to make up the “last days” sign call for joy, not sadness; for confidence, not fear. Sound strange? Not when we hear these words of the Master, words telling true Christians to exult when they see the world in its unprecedented state of fear with its wars, anguish of nations, fears and gloom for the future, earthquakes, famines and other woes: “As these things start to occur [upon one generation], raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.”—Luke 21:28, NW.
Deliverance into a righteous new world is possible. That is why the apostle Peter, after telling of the destruction of this system of things, goes on with the comforting assurance: “But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Pet. 3:13, NW) So all the world’s woes and fears are a cause for rejoicing because they mean just this: they are a prelude to God’s new world of righteousness.
But knowledge of the meaning of the world’s fears is not enough. One must go on to obtain knowledge of the cause of a fear-struck world. Without this knowledge one is battling a foe in the dark. God’s Word, the Bible, throws the searchlight on the foe of man, the producer of fear, the arch foe of Jehovah, namely, Satan the Devil. No wonder the earth is in seething turmoil: since 1914, as a result of a war in heaven, Satan has been hurled to the earth, where he now stirs up distress and violence. The Bible enlightens us, at Revelation 12:7-10, 12 (NW):
“War broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him.” The result: “Woe for the earth and for the! sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”
MAKING JEHOVAH YOUR HELPER
Knowing now that we are living in a most marvelous time in human history, you are in position to overcome fear. But you must pursue the course of taking in knowledge. Make time for this. Study God’s Word with the help of the many Bible study aids that Jehovah’s witnesses are bringing the people for the fight against fear. Remember the Bible advises: “A wise man is better than a strong man, and a man of knowledge than a man of might; for by wise guidance you wage war, and victory lies in a wealth of counselors.” Since a “man of knowledge” is better than a “man of might,” he is the one equipped to overcome fear. By obtaining wise guidance from counselors, kings and rulers plan to wage war. So to wage war against fear and, such a formidable foe as Satan the Devil you need the very best counselors. No better counselors can be had than Jehovah God and Christ Jesus. Follow their advice. By heeding the counsel of God’s Word you will wage war successfully and be able to take up the words: “Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid.”—Prov. 24:5, 6, AT; Heb. 13:6, NW.
God’s Word is like a sword, and knowledge obtained from it is like a suit of armor. In ancient times, when a soldier went out to wage war, a sword and a suit of armor were not enough; he also needed a shield. So since a Christian’s warfare is really “against the machinations of the Devil” and his “wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places,” the Bible advises you to “take up the complete suit of armor from God,” and, above all things, to “take up the large shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the wicked one’s burning missiles.” How important faith is, then, to overcome fear, fear caused by the Devil’s machinations! Do you know how powerful faith is? Faith that results in a confident reliance upon God’s Word is so powerful that the apostle said: “This is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith.” You need that kind of faith for the conquest of fear.—Eph. 6:11-17; 1 John 5:4, NW.
THE CLIMATE OF LOVE
Even more than faith and knowledge is required for overcoming the fears of this generation. For one must abandon the climate of fear and enter into the climate of love. Why? Because “there is no fear in love, but perfect love throws fear outside.” (1 John 4:18, NW) What kind of love is this that “throws fear outside”? Only such love that Jesus identified could be so powerful. It is the love embraced by the two great commandments of life: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.” “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”—Matt. 22:37-39, NW.
To love Jehovah means to stop fearing men. Really, it is foolish to fear men. They cannot give you life. God can. Men may take one’s life away, but they cannot take away one’s right to future life in the new world. But God can! So Jesus counsels: “Do not become fearful of those who kill the body but can not kill the soul; but rather be in fear of him that can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” Love of Jehovah, then, requires fearing the right One. Fear Jehovah. It is not a degrading fear such as the fear of men is. “The fear of man bringeth a snare,” but “the fear of Jehovah is clean, enduring for ever.” Finally, love for Jehovah is demonstrated by obeying his commandments: “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments.”—Matt. 10:28, NW; Prov. 29:25; Ps. 19:9, AS; 1 John 5:3, NW.
As for our neighbors, we are to love them, not fear them. Love will cast out fear. The best way to show love for one’s neighbor is to bring him a fear-dispelling message, namely, the good news of Jehovah’s new world.
Yes, tell others of the only remedy for a world of fear, God’s new world. For that new world will be a world of tranquillity and peace, of life and health, of happiness and joy. Gone will be fears of all kinds! No more fear of the future. No more insurance policies, not even life insurance, because Jehovah guarantees your future: “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith Jehovah, so shall your seed and your name remain.” (Isa. 66:22, AS) Never, nevermore will there be fear of sickness or fear of death, because God “will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more.” (Rev. 21:4, NW) And never again will men fear fear, because freedom from fear will be an absolute reality. God says so: “They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of Jehovah of hosts hath spoken it.” (Mic. 4:4, AS) The climate of fear will have given way to the climate of love.
Even now you can have freedom from the fears of this generation. Acquire knowledge, faith and love. One other step is necessary. You need the climate of love now; you need the climate of fearlessness now. If you associate with the old world you will be contaminated by fear. Rather associate with fearless people and partake of their fearlessness. Yes, face the future confidently with the fearless New World society, never failing to show love for your neighbors by inviting them to join with Jehovah’s witnesses and now “say to those whose hearts beat wildly, ‘Courage, fear not!’”—Isa. 35:4, AT.