FOMO is a catchy acronym that stands for “fear of missing out.” According to Urban Dictionary it is “the state of mental or emotional strain caused by the fear of missing out; a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity or satisfying event.” It’s a joke, a hashtag; an adorable acronym that unfortunately describes deep insecurity that dwells in each of us.
It is at the root of every sin: the panic that if we obey God we will miss out on something good. It is why we neglect God's call to go to the ends of the earth, because what if we miss out on time with our friends and community here? What if we miss out on marriage? What if we miss out on some career opportunity?
It is why we give with a begrudging heart or fail to give at all, because it might mean that we miss out on the vacation we crave or the perfect house for hosting. It is at the heart of our discontentment with our stage of life; we can’t shake the feeling that our singleness, our marriage, our health, our kids’ ages, our lack of kids, is causing us to miss out on some spectacular life just out of reach.
Three Precious Promises
Death itself exists because Eve yielded to FOMO. Unable to navigate the fear that she might be missing out on something, Eve reached up with a trembling hand and pulled the forbidden fruit from the tree. But God has sent his Son to purchase for us these three precious promises that defeat the anxiety of FOMO once and for all.
1. God has bought us an eternity to enjoy everything.
FOMO feeds on the scarcity of time. It appeals to our awareness that life is but a breath (Job 7:7). We begin to think that this life is our only chance for joy; if miss this moment, there will never be another.
FOMO would have the last word if not for the resurrection of Christ. According to Paul, if this life is the end then we should all be slaves to FOMO. We should eat and drink and make sure we don’t miss out on any earthly pleasure because this is our only shot at joy (1 Cor. 15:32). But the resurrected Christ proves that this life is not our only chance for happiness. We can walk past the pleasures of this world without fear of missing out because we are confident that all this life has to offer is not worth comparing to the joy that awaits us in the next. We can say goodbye to our brothers and sisters and cross the globe for the sake of Christ because we know we will enjoy eternity with them. We can exploit our singleness without regret because we trust that we will be with the perfect bridegroom forever.
We live as those who might be pitied in this life, because we are banking everything on the next life.
2. God has called us to a greater story.
I read a story recently about a heroine who resented her destiny to lead her people to fight against epic powers of darkness. Embracing her calling would mean “missing out” on the simple life of her dreams. I grew irritated with her. I wanted to shake her. She was marked for a magnificent calling—to change the whole world and to set people free from slavery—and she was rejecting it because she was scared of what it might cost. After I put the book down, I lay awake for a long time, sort of trembly and twitchy, because, deep down, I knew that I must often say, “Me too.” The war that rages around us is more deadly than any war an author can capture in words. Ephesians 6 tells us there is real battle against cosmic powers that rule over this present darkness and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
And you and I are set apart to wage that war and destined in Christ to win it. We are a chosen race and a royal priesthood, called to miss out on some of the simple pleasures of this life in order to strike at the prince of the power of the air with the sword of the Spirit. Would we exchange the painful privilege of a divine purpose for the fleeting pleasures of this life?
3. God has given us himself.
At the heart of FOMO is a fear of missing good. At the heart of our gospel is a God who has sent his only Son so that he could buy for us the great and precious promise that fully crushes the root of FOMO. In him we have every scrap of good.
“Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing” (Ps. 34:9-10).
We Miss Nothing
Settle it in your heart: as long as you have God, you miss nothing. Psalm 16 assures us that there is no good apart from him and in his presence there is fullness of joy. Fullness. No greater joy can be found anywhere else. The solution to your FOMO is to be with God.
I can’t shake the thought that God wired our hearts to experience FOMO. While the design has been sabotaged by our enemy, what if it was originally programmed into us to drive us to God? What if we fled from sin because it threatened to cause us to miss out on God? What if we felt so much horror at the thought of missing out on displaying God’s glory that we refused to waste our lives?
Let your fear of missing out drive you to God today. Let your FOMO teach you to pursue purity so you can see more of God. Let your FOMO prompt you to repent fearlessly, refusing to wait for another second to see your Father sprint toward you. Let your FOMO drive you to make radical decisions because you would hate to miss out on a single drop of grace.