The fear of missing out, or recently dubbed FOMO by most mainstream media, is a funny thing. The sheer idea that something interesting could happen without us can cause us to completely reroute our days or throw our emotions out of whack. It’s the trade off from a long-anticipated relaxing evening at home for going out all night with friends. It’s the nudge to say yes to invites that we don’t even really want to accept, only to ensure we don’t feel left out. It’s the angst that flares up inside when we see people on social media having more fun than we are—especially if we weren’t included.
While FOMO can show up in the common moments that string together our days, it can also hinder us from walking in the will of God with confidence. I would bet that some of the greatest men and women in the Bible struggled with it too. One of those was probably David. David was a young guy who loved God wholly and authentically. He was known as a man who was after God’s own heart. The youngest of eight sons, David was a perfect candidate for feeling like he was missing out on opportunity to step into greatness.
There was a time in the nation of Israel when a new king had to be chosen to rule and reign, and God sent a man named Samuel to find the right guy. Samuel was led by God to a man named Jesse’s house to pick out the new king of Israel, where he met only seven of the eight sons. While his brothers were presented to Samuel, David was out in the fields taking care of his family’s sheep. Imagine what it must have been like for David to be counted out in the line up for king by his family––surrounded by sheep and hard at work while his brothers put their best forward for a chance at the crown. It would be like your closest friends or sisters starring in a Miss America pageant while you’re sent backstage to clean their dressing rooms. Talk about some serious FOMO.
We don’t know much about how David reacted to his assignment for the day, but we do see God’s attentiveness to it. David may have been overlooked by his own family, but He was in no way overlooked by God.
…all seven of Jesse’s sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.” “Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.” So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes. And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.” So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. 1 Samuel 16:10-13
As incredible as that is, it’s only part of David’s story. David wasn’t just seen in the fields and brought to be annointed as king. His time spent taking care of sheep built skills, character, and trust in God that directly played into David’s journey to claiming the throne years later. Just for example, take a look at 1 Samuel 17. It’s where he faced and defeated Golliath the giant, telling Saul that he protected the sheep under his care from lions and bears and would stand up against their enemy in the same way. God always has a plan and a purpose for the experiences, opportunities, and dreams we have in this life. He carefully orchestrates the details of our lives and brings it all together, in alignment with his will, over time.
There is a word used to describe God that I love that describes this.
In simple terms, to say that God is sovereign is saying that His hand is in everything, and He has everything under control. It’s my constant reminder that He orchestrates His will, even in the unlikely places. When I trust His guidance in my life, I don’t have to stress about missing out or lost opportunity. He places me in what He knows to be the right place at the right time. There’s a verse in Ecclesiastes 9:11 about this: “It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time.”
While we think of the word “chance” haphazardly, as if it’s some accidental collision of events, the original word reveals how God works to orchestrate our moments. In the Hebrew, the word used for chance is qarah, essentially meaning to encounter or to appoint. It’s God’s hand setting up opportunities, conversations, invitations, and divine moments for us to live out His will in our life. These are God appointments that transcend what’s on someone’s social media, where we think we ought to be to reach our dreams, and the opportunities we think we missed out on. Trusting in God’s ability to orchestrate our life with our best interest at heart and within in the grand scheme of things is the key to conquer the fear of missing out.
That word qarah is laced all throughout Scripture to demonstrate God’s precision in working out His plans. We see it in the life of Ruth, a hard working woman who just “happened” to go to scavenge for grain in a field owned by a man named Boaz. God had set up an appointment for her to not only meet a man who the Bible described as wealthy and influential, but for her to catch his eye. Ruth was living in a way that didn’t seem ideal when God moved her into a position of favor and blessing.
How can we experience a life like that? I love the way the amplified translation says it in Proverbs 16:3, “Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed.”
Know that when we place our life in God’s hands, there won’t be anything we’re truly missing out on. When FOMO strikes, we can recognize it’s just an illusion that can make us miss how God is working. Instead of letting fear drive our life, we can be guided by our sovereign God with trusting hearts. There is no truly missed opportunity He can’t redeem, no point so far off course that He can’t redirect our steps, and no moment in our life left unseen or overlooked by Him. He is for us, not against us. And He is able to orchestrate the details of every day far beyond our imagination or understanding. Release control to God, lean into Him for guidance and direction, then trust the details to Him. When we do that, we trade FOMO for a fearless, fulfilled life.