I was stuck to my television and could not stop watching shark week this year. I couldn’t get enough information about these terrifying yet amazing creatures of the ocean. My obsession with sharks during this annual event was particularly odd since my fear of sharks keeps me from swimming in the ocean. Granted this week-long binge only confirmed that sharks are everywhere, but it also had another unexpected effect on me, a deeper spiritual lesson. Yes, I got a spiritual lesson out of shark week.
The Spiritual Lesson I Learned from Shark Week
For me, and many people, my fears have a rational and logical basis. Let’s look at my fear of sharks as an example:
- I am afraid of sharks
- Shark can eat me or bite an arm or leg off me
- There are sharks in the ocean
- I am afraid to swim in the ocean because I don’t want to be bitten or eaten by a shark
This fear is logical because there are in fact sharks in the ocean and they can kill or bite you. There is nothing wrong with having a healthy fear of something that is deadly, but when does they healthy fear become unhealthy?
I’ve talked about worry in a previous blog post, so I will just summarize it here. Worry is a sin. Like it or not, it is. God tells us not to worry so many times in the Bible. He has also given multiple examples of why I shouldn’t worry in Bible stories and my own life. However, I continue to struggle with worry.
Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Worry is when you allow yourself to dwell on a rational fear (or maybe even an irrational one). Particularly one you can’t do anything about. If nothing else, you are wasting the good of today by fearing what might or might not happen tomorrow. It is a waste of time, it is unhealthy, and it is not fun.
So, you are probably wondering about that spiritual lesson and shark week about now, aren’t you? Well, here it is:
While watching and learning all the amazing facts about the different sharks, I noticed something. When they were filming these massive creatures underwater, there were always fish, stingrays, and seals swimming around in the water with them. In one program, they talked about how stingrays were a favorite delicacy of a certain shark, and there were stingrays going about their daily business with these sharks swimming around them. The same with seals and the other favorite food sources of sharks.
The seals even looked like they were having fun! Swimming, diving, and even frolicking with the top of the oceanic food chain right there in their midst. My natural reaction was to want them to hide and run away so they don’t get eaten, but that is not what they did. They enjoyed their life and didn’t worry about the sharks.
That is when it hit me. What good would it do for the seals or fish to worry about the sharks every day? They are always going to be there, and there is always the potential they will get eaten. But, they can’t survive if they stay hidden all the time so what is the point? They just enjoy life and go about their daily routine. Worrying about the sharks was not going to change anything except take away their joy for that day. If one day they get eaten then that is just how life is. The great circle of life thing.
Matthew 6:27 says, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
If the seals and stingrays and other fish worried all the time about getting eaten by a shark that would not help anything and would not keep it from happening. It would only diminish the days that they had to live. I’m not saying to throw all caution to the wind because there are things that you can and should do to reduce the risk of some viable fears. Just like the seals stick close to shore so they can escape if a hungry shark comes along looking for a meal. Being smart is different from worrying.
My fear and worry can keep me from doing things I want to do or, at the very least, they keep me from enjoying the days that I am worrying about something I have no control over. Besides 9.75 times out of 10 the thing I worried about never happened or was not that big of a deal. I just wasted a lot of time, energy, and probably sleep worrying about it. I need to be more like the seals.
Now, am I going to go surfing or swimming out in the middle of the ocean? Probably not, but I have gone snorkeling and swimming with some ocean life despite my fears and am glad I did. Maybe one day I will make it onto a surfboard – you never know! But in the meantime, I am not going to worry about it.
Do you have a fear of sharks? Do you go in the ocean anyway?