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My Fight Against FOMO

Written by Michelle Lai, Singapore

Do you have FOMO?

I first heard this acronym in my church last October, when a university student shared about her struggle to manage her time after entering university; she had to balance her studies, church activities, social activities, and quiet time with God.

FOMO stands for “fear of missing out”—in other words, it’s the fear of not being in the know of what is happening, or missing out on experiences which others seem to enjoy. You may experience FOMO in its various forms. For example, you may feel envious of what others have, so you say yes to every activity without much consideration.

When I heard the student’s sharing, I immediately recognized that I was struggling with the same thing. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I had to take two semesters off university, which meant missing out on classes, Christian Fellowship (CF), social gatherings, and other important events.

I remember feeling a wave of sadness when I realized that I was physically and mentally unable to take part in CF. As part of the executive community, I was supposed to be in charge of the Bible study curriculum. Knowing that I would not be able to implement the ideas I had for the curriculum disappointed me.

Sometimes, I felt so tired that I could not even meet my friends for a meal. Missing out on a year of school also meant that I would not be able to celebrate milestones together with them. When they graduated and started work, I would still be in university. When I saw my peers moving ahead with their lives, I couldn’t help but feel left behind.

I thought about all the “what ifs” and “what-could-have-beens”. If I did not have to take this break, I would have been able to complete my final year in school; I would have been able to contribute to CF; and most importantly, I would have been able to experience life with my friends.

As I grappled with these thoughts, I realized that the main reason why I was sad was that I was not going to graduate together with my peers. Though my friends tried to encourage me by saying that the extra time would pass very quickly, my heart was still unhappy and bitter because I knew that I would not be able to catch up with them.

But by focusing on not being left out, I lost sight of God. I forgot that serving God and being part of a Christian community was never about me to begin with. Though I had started out wanting to serve God, along the way I had become preoccupied about being indispensable to those around me. I forgot that God does not need anybody to do anything for Him. However, He delights in us and chooses to partner us in His work.

Right after that service, I prayed that God would remove FOMO from me and that I would recognize my feelings of sadness for what they were and deal with them. I prayed that I would get my priorities right. And I prayed for my friends and also for the CF even though I could not participate.

For a few months, I kept praying to God about the sadness I was feeling. He then opened my eyes to see the situation from another perspective—that this was my season of rest. He showed me that honoring Him didn’t just mean serving those around me, but it also meant resting, slowing down, and taking care of my health so that He could continue to use me for His glory.

By God’s grace, my condition has improved, and I returned to school a few weeks ago.

For everyone who fears being left behind, I would like to encourage you that although you may not always be “relevant” to the people or activities around you, you will always be relevant to God no matter what season of life you are in. God will not miss any of us out.

Each of us has our own path to walk on earth. Let’s worry about whether we’re seeking God at every moment instead of worrying about whether we’re part of the “in” crowd or the latest happening.

 

 

Why Am I Afraid of Sharing My Faith?

Written By Aryanto Wijaya, Indonesia, originally in Bahasa Indonesia

Have you ever been afraid of sharing your faith with others? I have.

When I was in fourth grade, my family and I were the only Christians in our neighborhood. One day, when I was cycling past a mosque, some children my age came up to me, blocked my path, and tried to force me off my bicycle. When I didn’t get off, they started kicking my bike and tried forcing me to say verses from the Koran. They also accused me of being an infidel—because I was Chinese and a Christian.

I had no idea how to respond. Thankfully, an adult showed up and dispersed the children.

Since then, I have always attributed my fear of sharing my faith to this incident. But after giving it more thought recently, I realized there were three underlying reasons that stopped me from sharing my Christian faith.

 

1. I was afraid of offending people from different religions

Where I live, Christians are a minority, so sharing my faith can be a sensitive thing. On one occasion, my friends gathered for a prayer meeting at my home. Though we did not play any music or make loud noises, a neighbor reported us, fearing that our house might become a church. Two men then came to my house and told us, “Christian activities are not allowed in a Muslim neighborhood.”

Though that incident fazed me a little, God quickly provided me other opportunities to share my faith. One time, I was staying at an elderly woman’s house. On one of the mornings as I was getting ready for church, she asked me, “Hey, where are you going so early in the morning?”

I told her honestly that I was going to church. To my surprise, she expressed curiosity about church, as well as about my faith. It turns out that she had never met a Christian before! I ended up sharing with her a little about God and what going to church was like.

Whether or not we realize it, people around us are watching our actions daily. The way we live could be the very thing that sparks their interest in our lives and in Jesus Himself. It’s exactly as Jesus told us, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

 

2. I was afraid my friends would think poorly of me

Whenever I prepared for church each Sunday, my roommates would tease me, “What for go to church in the morning? It’s better to sleep in . . .” In their opinion, the best way to spend Sunday morning was to sleep in, since our weekdays were always packed with so many different activities.

I admit that peer pressure sometimes got the better of me. When a friend asked me to go jogging with him one Sunday morning, I gave in—and attended church in the afternoon instead. I wanted to be accepted by my peers; and I wanted to be seen as a faithful friend.

I also struggled with what my friends thought of Christianity. Some of them felt Christianity was “complicated” since there seemed to be so many rules to follow: tithing, going to Church, Bible reading, etc. To avoid being seen that way, I hid my faith from my friends.

But God reminded me through my quiet time that I should be focused on God’s view of me, and not that of my peers. I am precious and honored, and God loves me (Isaiah 43:4). Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross for me. Therefore, I should give everything―my money, energy, and thoughts―to show my gratitude to the loving God who has saved my life.

So now when my friends ask about it, I tell them I don’t mind going to church or tithing or serving, because this is an expression of my gratitude to God.

 

3. I was afraid I couldn’t answer questions about Christianity

Some people have told me that Christianity does not make sense. For example, they ask, how can God have a son? I found myself getting stumped by some of the questions and sometimes wondered if this was because I still had doubts myself. As a result, I didn’t make my faith known to my friends so they wouldn’t ask me about it.

But during church one day, God spoke through the preacher to remind me that I shouldn’t be so preoccupied with whether I can answer my friends’ questions. Instead, I should pray for them regularly, that they may experience the peace of God, which transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Sometimes, when we are unable to articulate our faith through words, we can do so through our actions. I once had a female classmate in college who did not have any friends. Nobody wanted to be in the same group as her, so she was lonely all the time. I decided to invite her to join my group for one of the class projects.

She was surprised and asked me, “Why do you want to be my friend?” I replied, “God made each of us special. If you are specially made by God, why should I avoid you just because of some trivial reason?”

I don’t know whether if it was because of my actions or my words, but since then, she has joined a Christian community and has been growing in her faith.

 

Our faith is special. It is not just about us, or about building churches. Christianity is about a holy and loving God who cares for sinners.

Being a Christian is a gift we need to be thankful for.  I now understand that I am Jesus’ disciple, and I no longer worry about people labeling me as a “Christian”. I am no longer afraid of sharing my faith. Instead of keeping it to myself, I want to share my story about Jesus.

Even though people might mock or oppress us when we share our faith, like my experience in fourth grade, I pray that these words of Jesus may strengthen us as we follow Him in the midst of our suffering: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)

ODJ: Greater

Howling winds, booming thunderclaps, and lightning flashes tend to make me nervous, even when I’m sheltered in a safe, dry place. Gentle rain showers I can handle. It’s the clamor and din of an intense storm that get me. So Jesus could well have been speaking to me when He asked His disciples, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40).

Caught in the midst of a raging storm, the disciples must have stared incredulously at their slumbering rabbi. Waking Him, they asked reproachfully, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” (v.38). When Jesus rebuked the storm and all became calm, the terrified men couldn’t believe their eyes. “ ‘Who is this man?’ they asked each other. ‘Even the wind and waves obey him!’ ” (v.41).

By that time, the disciples had seen Jesus do and say enough to have an inkling of His identity. Yet the pounding waves made them lose perspective to the point of wondering who their Teacher really could be. I can imagine how they felt. When facing a storm in life, I often forget that I’m safe in Him and instead allow circumstances to make me anxious.

The noise and turmoil of life have a way of obscuring our vision from the truth of God’s Word and who He is. Isaiah 30:15 says, “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.” When we turn off our distractions and rest quietly in God’s presence, His peace permeates our hearts and strengthens our confidence.

Rather than using our minds to conjure up images of calamity and chaos, we will see—as the disciples did—that He who is with us is greater than the storms we face, no matter how large and loud they are.

—Remi Oyedele

365-day plan: Isaiah 6:1-13

May 22, 2016 

READ: Mark 4:35-41  


Soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water (v.37). 

Howling winds, booming thunderclaps and lightning flashes tend to make me nervous, even when I’m sheltered in a safe, dry place. Gentle rain showers I can handle. It’s the clamour and din of an intense storm that get me. So Jesus could well have been speaking to me when He asked His disciples, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40).

Caught in the midst of a raging storm, the disciples must have stared incredulously at their slumbering rabbi. Waking Him, they asked reproachfully, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” (v.38). When Jesus rebuked the storm and all became calm, the terrified men couldn’t believe their eyes. “ ‘Who is this man?’ they asked each other. ‘Even the wind and waves obey him!’ ” (v.41).

By that time the disciples had seen Jesus do and say enough to have an inkling of His identity. Yet the pounding waves made them lose perspective to the point of wondering who their Teacher really could be. I can imagine how they felt. When facing a storm in life, I often forget that I’m safe in Him and instead allow circumstances to make me anxious.

The noise and turmoil of life have a way of obscuring our vision from the truth of God’s Word and who He is. Isaiah 30:15 says, “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.” When we turn off our distractions and rest quietly in God’s presence, His peace permeates our hearts and strengthens our confidence.

Rather than using our minds to conjure up images of calamity and chaos, we will see—as the disciples did—that He who is with us is greater than the storms we face, no matter how large and loud they are.

—Remi Oyedele

365-day plan: Isaiah 6:1-13

MORE
Read Psalm 107:23-30 for the Bible’s view of who is ultimately in control of all things. 
NEXT
What’s frightened you the most about a storm (physical or emotional) you’ve experienced? How does the knowledge that God is greater than our storms impact the way you feel? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: celebrate!

Last Christmas I read an article from a religious thinker I admire. She attempted to make the case that we should avoid the exuberant celebration of Christmas—particularly gift-giving. Her familiar complaints? The consumerism and hustle and bustle of the holidays. As we take an axe to consumerism or greed, however, we must not unwittingly also take the axe to joy. In the next few days, you’ll likely give someone a Christmas gift that feels at least a little lavish or unnecessary. You may receive one as well. I believe this mirrors the generosity of God. Certainly, joy doesn’t require expensive gifts. But joy does provide for a gregarious and generous posture toward others.

On the night Jesus was born, the shepherds cowered as the angel—shimmering with God’s brilliance—appeared (Luke 2:9). When the angel announced God’s arrival, the message included three parts: (1) do not fear; (2) God comes with very, very good news; (3) God intends to flood us with fabulous joy (v.10). The angel’s words are striking because they contradict the truths we often believe that we should be very afraid, most news will be bad, and that God is a distant miser.

Christmas, however, is a pinnacle of God’s joy. With the angels, we rejoice! With Mary and Joseph, we rejoice! With every weary heart who has found hope in God, we rejoice! With all lonely souls who have discovered the profound reality that God is their father, their friend, their Savior, we rejoice!

At our church, we always conclude our Christmas Eve service with “Joy to the World,” for that’s where the story leads. Let’s sing with the angels, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased” (v.14).

—Winn Collier

365-day-plan: James 2:1-13

December 20, 2015 

READ: Luke 2:1-14 


Don’t be afraid! . . . I bring you good news that will be great joy to all people (v.10). 

Last Christmas I read an article from a religious thinker I admire. She attempted to make the case that we should avoid the exuberant celebration of Christmas—particularly gift-giving. Her familiar complaints? The consumerism and hustle and bustle of the holidays. As we take an axe to consumerism or greed, however, we must not unwittingly also take the axe to joy. In the next few days, you’ll likely give someone a Christmas gift that feels at least a little lavish or unnecessary. You may receive one as well. I believe this mirrors the generosity of God. Certainly, joy doesn’t require expensive gifts. But joy does provide for a gregarious and generous posture toward others.

On the night Jesus was born, the shepherds cowered as the angel—shimmering with God’s brilliance—appeared (Luke 2:9). When the angel announced God’s arrival, the message included three parts: (1) do not fear; (2) God comes with very, very good news; (3) God intends to flood us with fabulous joy (v.10). The angel’s words are striking because they contradict the truths we often believe that we should be very afraid, most news will be bad, and that God is a distant miser.

Christmas, however, is a pinnacle of God’s joy. With the angels, we rejoice! With Mary and Joseph, we rejoice! With every weary heart who has found hope in God, we rejoice! With all lonely souls who have discovered the profound reality that God is their father, their friend, their Savior, we rejoice!

At our church, we always conclude our Christmas Eve service with “Joy to the World,” for that’s where the story leads. Let’s sing with the angels, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased” (v.14).

—Winn Collier

365-day-plan: James 2:1-13

MORE
Read Romans 15:13 and consider the source of true joy and peace. 
NEXT
Reflecting on the angel’s words, what do you think might be the correlation between joy and fear? Sing “Joy to the World” as a prayer. 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)