Paranoia

Paranoia is a funny thing. It can take the most level headed person and turn him into a anxious worrier. We’ve probably all been there – seeing and believing things that aren’t really there. I know that I’ve been sure I was being followed at night in downtown Tacoma and ended up running to my car and locking the doors. Of course there was no one in sight. Ok, I better elaborate on that or I’ll just sound like a wimp.

I was in my early 20’s attending University of Washington in Tacoma. At the time I attended, the area was still a bit sketchy with crime and all. We had campus security at all times. Parking for the school was less than ideal. You couldn’t really park on the street because those were 1-2 hour spots and classes ran longer than that. So you had to park a few blocks up the street away from the campus. Now at the time, the school had made an announcement to be careful at night walking to your car because incidents had been reported. Mugging, burglary, car break-ins, etc. If you felt uncomfortable, the security guards would walk you to your car. That’s cool, but I was a dude. I got this. Except that announcement made me paranoid. And sometimes I ran to my car.

Paranoia will mess with you. It clouds your judgement. It will cause you to make bad decisions. Just look at this story out of 1 Chronicles…

1 Chronicles 19:2-4 David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.  When David’s envoys came to Hanun in the land of the Ammonites to express sympathy to him, the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Haven’t his envoys come to you only to explore and spy out the country and overthrow it?” So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved them, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away.

Can we stop for just a moment and realize how funny this is? I mean, it’s absolutely terrible. But c’mon, who is the guy who thought of this? “Hey King Hanun, I’ve got an idea. Let’s make it so these guys moon everyone on their way back home.” I imagine they snickered like 12 year old boys as they watched these guys leave. I can almost see the pokes and jabs as they laughed hysterically, “it’s gonna be a full moon tonight!” (*sigh) Boys will be boys.  I digress.

The whole problem with this situation is that David actually sent these guys in peace to give his sympathy to Hanun. But paranoia ruled in the hearts of the Ammonites. That paranoia messed with their heads and made them think that David was out to get them. They thought he was sending these guys in as spies. Their judgement was clouded and they made a poor decision. In fact, instead of peace, this whole situation turned into war. And the paranoid Ammonites lost badly.

Are you living paranoid? Are you always wondering what bad thing will happen next? Do you spend time worried about what others are saying about you? Have you convinced yourself that everyone is out to get you? Friends, that is no way to live! You belong to a God who is for you. He declares Isaiah 41:10 over your life. “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Take heart today. Take refuge. Receive peace. Find joy. He is your God and he will hold you up. There’s no need to be paranoid any longer.

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