What Is Scripture’s Answer to the Fear of Missing Out?
The fear of missing out doesn’t get easier as we get older. Even after marriage, kids, and a career. A simple scroll through social media can take me right back to my college days, those same feelings of rejection whispering to my spirit, “You’re not good enough to be included.” So what do we do when we see others involved in something amazing, and we’re afraid of missing out?
Walking through the front doors of the residence hall after a long day of classes, I decided to stop by a friend’s room on the way to my dorm. I wanted to say a quick “hi” before studying for upcoming exams. As I approached, I heard laughter and conversation coming from behind her door. Was I missing out on something fun? A quick knock and peek inside confirmed my fear.
A group of girls from economics class lounged around, textbooks resting in their laps. They were having a study session, and I wasn’t invited. My friend looked shocked to see me. An awkward “hello” somehow escaped my mouth before I waved and closed the door. I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t missing out. But my thoughts distracted me: Why didn’t they invite me? Don’t they like me? I wonder what they’re doing now. Should I ask if I can join?
The fear of missing out doesn’t get easier as we get older. Even after marriage, kids, and a career. A simple scroll through social media can take me right back to my college days, those same feelings of rejection whispering to my spirit, “You’re not good enough to be included.”
What Are We Afraid of Missing?
“FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) may be a term we toss around lightly among friends and on social media, but make no mistake, FOMO is dangerous. It ushers in unwanted thoughts of comparison, envy, and discouragement. When we don’t recognize it, we risk falling into its trap.
So what do we do when we see others involved in something amazing, and we’re afraid of missing out?
In Philippians 4:11-12, Paul shares this message of hope: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Contentment. That’s the answer, as Scripture so clearly shares. But if I know I should feel content, why is FOMO so hard? Let’s allow Paul’s word to settle in our hearts while we explore the true sources of the fear that causes us to feel that dreaded sense of FOMO. Then we will offer a prayer to our Heavenly Father and trust him to guide us toward the contentment Paul talks about.
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1. We Fear “Missed” Opportunities
The women’s ministry at your church is planning a trip to a women’s conference. It’s going to be epic! Everyone’s excited. Everyone, that is, except you. With small kids at home and a husband who travels, an out-of-town trip just isn’t possible right now—not to mention the grandparents can’t help out. They live miles away.
I’ve been there, and maybe you have too. Maybe that event you’re missing isn’t a women’s conference. Perhaps it involves your co-workers, other mom-friends, or an open door you’ve been praying about. Missed opportunities can leave us feeling like we’ve lost a chance that may never come again. When we are afraid of missing an opportunity, let’s remember that this is a season. We may not be able to go everywhere or do all the things, but we can embrace contentment by discovering the joy in the specific season God has for us today.
2. We Fear We Lack True Community
God created us to crave relationship. And let’s be honest. Nothing helps us find joy through the stress of life like quality time with close friends. So when I see an image on Facebook showing a group of women laughing and having a good time, my happiness for them sometimes turns to heartache. I entertain thoughts like, “Why am I never included? I wish I could be part of the group.”
When I’m afraid I’m missing out on community, I can curb those negative feelings by remembering this: Social media never tells the whole story. It’s just a glimpse of a much longer narrative. Instead, let’s resolve to be the ones to reach out. To invite others. To plan a coffee date. This will uplift our spirits as we get beyond the comfort of our living room and engage with our girlfriends. (Or make new ones!)
3. We Fear Feeling Useless and Unvalued
God gave each of us unique gifts and talents. He also offers opportunities for us to use those gifts to serve the world around us. When we put our skills into action, we feel a sense of purpose. But we need to be careful of only thinking we have value when others need us.
I love feeling needed. It brings a sense of pride when my son asks me to help him with homework, or when the whole family gushes compliments over the dinner I cooked. However, there are also times when no one asks for my help. And the older my kids get, the less useful I feel. Does that mean I have no value? Absolutely not! Our identity comes from our merciful Savior. God defines who we are through his love.
“ For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)
Let’s fight the fear of missing out on being helpful by reminding ourselves of our identity as children of God.
A Prayer for When You’re Afraid of Missing Out
After Paul encouraged the church at Philippi with his testimony about how he learned to be content, he revealed the secret to contentment: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). We can try and try, but we will never conquer the fear of missing out without God’s help. We need the strength Jesus gives.
Pray this prayer for the times when you’re afraid of missing out:
Dear Heavenly Father,
In the world we live in today, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of feeling like I’m missing out. Help me remember I can turn to your Word, Lord, to find hope during these times of discouragement. The apostle Paul learned how to be content in every situation, and your words through him give comfort and peace to me today. Help me apply the truth of Philippians 4:11-13 to my own life. In times when I’m in need or in times when I have plenty, I choose contentment.
Thank you, Lord, for the open doors of opportunity I have right in front of me. When I feel like I’m missing out on an opportunity, help me to realize everything has a season. Help me also to see the joy in mine right now, and rest in where you have me. My current season is a gift from you. I have so much to be grateful for! Thank you for the gift of today.
Lord, I admit to feeling left out when seeing friends’ posts on social media. When those images cause heartache and rejection to surface, help me refocus on you and your goodness by putting down my phone and spending time with you instead. Teach me to keep things in proper perspective, and to remember social media is only a glimpse of a person’s life. Comparison, envy, and jealousy are not of you and have no place in my heart.
Thank you that my worth and value are found in you alone. I am who you say I am! Psalm 73:26 declares, “you are the strength of my heart.” I need that strength to be content, because your power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). I confess that I can’t do it on my own. Thank you for offering the strength to help me do all things through your precious son, Jesus. I do not lack anything because I have you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Kristine Brown is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, and the upcoming companion devotional for teen girls. She is the founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Read more from Kristine at kristinebrown.net.
This article is part of our Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.
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