Have you heard of FOMO, the fear of missing out? It’s a term that was coined by author Patrick McGinnis in 2004. With the growth of digital technology, it’s estimated that more than half of social media users experience this fear that they are missing out on something exciting or interesting happening somewhere else. However, this is not a new phenomenon. Deep down, people have always had this concern. In fact, some might argue that the first true occurrence happened in the garden of Eden.
Think about it. Adam and Eve lived in a literal paradise. They had everything they needed. The only thing denied to them was fruit from an oddly-named tree. But that was the one thing Satan used to tempt them into original sin. Worried they were missing out on something, they sacrificed paradise and a perfect relationship with God to get that elusive “something.” They were distracted by the one thing they didn’t have and neglected everything they’d been given. That decision has led humanity down a path of unhappiness ever since, continually trying to recapture the peace Adam and Eve gave up (Romans 5:12).
Then came Jesus.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Christ is described as the second Adam (v.45). Born out of heaven. Jesus came to crush the serpent and open the gates to a second garden of Eden, giving us freedom from fear and anxiety (John 14:27). So why do we still worry that we are missing out on something better than what we have?
The book of Hebrews was written to a Jewish audience after the resurrection. They’d begun following Jesus but fell back on the old traditions they’d been taught in the Jewish faith. In other words, they were afraid they were missing out on what had become comfortable to them. But the author of Hebrews admonishes these believers, telling them that by acting this way, they were actually missing out on something better (Hebrews 5:11–14).
A few thousand years later, we’re still doing the same thing. Our traditions may be different, but they’re still distractions from the peace of Christ. We fill our lives with work, activities, entertainment, possessions, and technology. Yet we’re surprised that doing more things only makes us more anxious about missing out. We’re stuck in a vicious cycle.
No time of year is this more true than during Advent. The weeks leading up to Christmas are packed with events, shopping, and countless other preparations. There’s nothing wrong with these holiday traditions, but we often allow them to overwhelm us and overpower our focus on Christ (Mark 4:19).
A better way to honor Him during Advent would be remaining present in each moment. Amidst a flurry of activity, it’s more challenging to seek God exactly where we are. It’s tempting to try to control everything in our lives. But true faith is trusting that God can work through us precisely where He has placed us (Matthew 6:25–34).
The irony of FOMO is that we actually miss out whenever we indulge this fear. We need to fight against it, ignore that nagging serpent nipping at our heels, and instead, be present with Christ where we are. Just like Adam and Eve, we have been given a choice—the alluring mystery of the unknown fruit or the contentment that has been promised to us.
With Jesus, we don’t have to fear that we are missing out on something better. In Him, all of God’s promises are fulfilled.
Written by Robert Carnes