Being Carried Away

Being Carried Away

 “Remember your leaders, those who spoke God’s message to you. Reflect on the results of their way of life, and imitate their trust — Yeshua the Messiah is the same yesterday, today and forever. Do not be carried away by various strange teachings; for what is good is for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods. People who have made these the focus of their lives have not benefited thereby.”

(Hebrews 13:7-9)

I found it fascinating watching people across the southern states of the U.S. panic, as they waited for hours to obtain more gasoline than they would ever use. What added to this fascination was the reality that even those in states which weren’t served by the scammed pipeline were also panic buying. Doesn’t this remind us of the same behaviour we witnessed at the beginning of the pandemic, when toilet paper and canned food became the hot commodities — toilet paper? Why do people allow themselves to be carried away, when they are in perceived difficult situations?

The answer to that question is both simple and complex. Let’s examine the complex explanation first. A research team from McMaster University[1] has investigated the phenomenon of panic buying and has identified four factors, which may help people deal with any threat to their health or safety. The first is what has been claimed to be ‘herd behaviour’. When people develop a sense of concern, from hearing others or from the internet (the ultimate source of mis-information), they may be tempted to join in on the panic, or perceive they will be left behind. This herd mentality was clearly seen in the state of Florida, where thousands of drivers lined up at gas stations to fill cans, buckets, and whatever, even though Florida is not supported by the hacked pipeline and was never in any danger.

A second stimulus for panic buying is mis-information and dis-information. FaceBook and a myriad of internet sites are filled with both — information designed to lead people away from the truth and information that is deliberately wrong, rightly labelled lies. When we decide to pay attention to mis and did-information, we are placing our trust in those who wish to either deceive us or at worst, wish to steal from us. So many of us do not do any fact checking, when it comes to FaceBook and internet sites. When we fail to engage in fact checking, we only have ourselves to blame, when things go wrong. Sometimes our desire for wealth will lead us to follow scam artists, who can be quite convincing in their pitches.

A third reason for panic buying is fear of the unknown. The human mind cannot exist within a vacuum. Whenever there is a lack of information about something coming up, which combines with a threat to our security, we tend to fill-in the missing pieces ourselves. When the coronavirus pandemic struck Canada, in the late winter of 2020, we were fed a good deal of tentative and often contradictory information. As a result, people reacted by moving into panic. They started buying whatever they could that they perceived might be eventually run out. Thus, toilet paper and canned foods, amongst others, were purchased in mass quantities. Could they have waited until the information was more stable, which it was within a few days? Yes, they could and they would have found the stores restocked of everything they had started to hoard.

And, finally, we have the need to control our environment. This condition is a big one. All human beings have a need, built in to our DNA, to ensure our environment is safe and secure. When it is not, we will do whatever we can to ensure it returns to as close to normal as possible. If this means filling our houses full of such commodities as toilet paper, we will do that. This action provides us with a sense of control over our environment. Unrealistic? Of course it is, but there is no predicting how humans will behave, when they perceive their lives are at risk.

In a very few words, I have attempted to share with you the complex explanation for why people engage in panic buying. As you may see, when these four conditions come into play, we are most susceptible to following the herd and engaging in panic buying, even when it isn’t warranted. But what is the simple explanation?

Lack of Faith! That’s the simple explanation. When we believe in God and have welcomed His Son, Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, into our lives, we are given a healthy dose of ‘emunah’, Hebrew for ‘trust-in-action’. This is the quality of faith that stimulates us to step up and step out, living our lives as He would want us to do. When we have this degree of faith, which all true believers have been given but may have lost along the wayside, we will not engage with the herd; we will not begin panic buying at the first sound of trouble. We will wait to be guided and directed by the One Who loves us beyond all understanding. Above all, we will not be carried away – “Do not be carried away by various strange teachings; for what is good is for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods. People who have made these the focus of their lives have not benefited thereby.” (Hebrews 13:9).

CONSIDER: Are you concerned by things happening around you, to the point you are on the edge of panic? Do you watch the crowd and consider moving with them, just because they are moving?

ACTION: I urge us to be in His Word and be patient, as we wait for direction from our beloved Abba.

PRAYER: Abba B’Shamayim, Heavenly Father, You are our great Provider; You are the One Who leads us and guides us, as we journey through our temporary home. I pray, Abba, that You help us keep calm and feel secure, while everyone around us is running about like headless chickens, filled with fears and panic. B’Shem Adonai Mashichainu, Amen.

May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob fully and richly bless you.

[1] McMaster University, The Optimal Aging Portal, 20 September, 2020

By heartformessiah

Dr. Michael Wodlinger is a Messianic Jew, living in Quebec, Canada. He has been a university professor and a rabbi of a Messianic Fellowship.

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