"Hatari" is the Swahili word for "danger". Danger is defined as, "the possibility of suffering harm or injury." And, perhaps there is no better (or worse) place for hatari than the wild savannas of Africa. The daily struggle between predator and prey sparks the "fight or flight" mechanism in each and every one of God's creatures.
We human creatures face these struggles just as well. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States, affecting about 19 million or 13% of all adults and 25% of all teens, 30% of all teenage girls. Facing drastic situations in our lives, we, too, must decide to fight or take flight.
I speak from experience. I had never had issues with anxiety until a few years ago when I experienced a 7mm kidney stone. A normal person is said to be able to pass a kidney stone up to 5mm and this stone got hung up trying to enter my bladder and would go no farther. I had to go through a procedure to have it removed, a very unpleasant event. That stone had originated in my left kidney. The following year I repeated the process with an 8mm stone from my right kidney. There is no pain like that of a kidney stone on the move and there is really nothing you can do about it until the stone passes. That inability to have any power over the passage or the pain, I believe, triggered my fight or flight mechanism, causing my anxiety.
In the years to follow, I had two other events occur that would trigger anxiety. First, my employer downsized during the recession and I lost my position of thirteen years in a permanent layoff. Immediately after that, I witnessed the ravages of death caused by cancer as I sat by my mother's bedside. I discovered that I really never had any control over the tragic circumstances in my life.
However, Biblically speaking, I do have power over anxiety through God. II Timothy 1:7 states,
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
So, if God was not the originator of fear and He had given me a sound mind, why was I still having anxiety?
I continued to read on in I Peter 5:6-11,
"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus,
after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
I must humble myself before God, it is He that delivers (not myself) if I place my care upon Him because He cares for me. I must also be clear-minded and realize that Satan, a predator, is as a "roaring lion". Wait, what is meant by this phrase? Have you ever seen a roaring lion in African documentaries? A roaring lion is not on the hunt, he is just trying to instill fear in his prey, making his presence known. By comparison, a hunting lion is very quiet, hidden and cautious before an attack. By instilling fear, the lion, or Satan, for that matter, causes confusion, mental anguish or, even worse, inaction. We do not know whether to fight or take flight. It is a type of psychological warfare, or, if you prefer, an attack of anxiety or panic.
The solution? I must remain steadfast in my faith in God and know that all of God's children suffer the same afflictions. We all suffer. I must face my fear head on. Then, after I have suffered a while, Jesus will stand up and rebuke the "lion" by perfecting me, establishing my path, strengthening me, and settling my spirit.
To Him be all glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.