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Are Americans suffering from Stockholm Syndrome?

Photo: Unsplash/Ian Tormo

Though some argued the reports of widespread food shortages across America were just conservative "fake news," the District of Columbia's Emergency Management and Homeland Security recently asked shoppers, "buy what you need and leave some for others," acknowledging the empty shelves and supply problems.

The Wall Street Journal blames the shortages on the lack of workers out sick from Omicron, and of course, the Biden Administration insists it's the Russians who are weaponizing food to starve the world. Regardless of the cause, the outcome is potentially catastrophic. Scholar Victor Davis Hanson says that what's happening in the U.S. is analogous to the "system collapse" we saw in Greece and Venezuela. The term refers to a wealthy nation that can no longer buy or find once abundant resources to meet the expectations of its population.

The problem is exacerbated by government corruption, incompetence, and malicious intent, leading to rising crime rates, criminalizing political opposition, and other oppressive outcomes. By 2016, a relatively stable Greece became like a Third World country.

A disturbing aspect of a national collapse is how large portions of the population can undergo a form of Stockholm Syndrome to cope with the social and emotional stress of scarcity and deprivation. Stockholm Syndrome can be both a personal and societal phenomenon shared by a group experiencing the same crisis. The primary concern in both cases is survival. In Greece, Stockholm Syndrome appears regularly in the news to describe their responses as a nation held captive by foreign creditors and corrupt political figures. One scholar explains their compromise with the government in this way: "When you realize there is no end to the crisis, that you can trust the promises of nobody, you seek sanctuary in that which you know. I know how to live in the crisis." The seemingly irrational choice to remain in a perpetual state of social suffering, decreased living standards, stresses, and anxieties is the epitome of society with Stockholm Syndrome.

Unfortunately, we see a similar trend here in the U.S. as millions of Americans remain trapped in our welfare system and have learned to live without hope and prosperity. More recently, we see mainstream media and everyday citizens buying into the deceit of government officials who deny the food shortages, rising inflation, and economic hardships stem from their incompetence.

I believe this mentality of "futility in resistance" to political and social captivity led many Americans to accept the draconian demands made during the COVID pandemic. Now it's the baby formula crisis and rising food and gas costs.

Many are willing to make excuses for the failures and resolve that we must adapt to the "new normal." America seems to be undergoing its version of Stockholm Syndrome. Moreover, watching this acquiescence to tyranny makes it easier to understand how people in the End Times will worship the Beast and accept the mark of Satan just to avoid suffering. 

While those without faith in Christ can make excuses for societal deterioration and find a strange resting place in the chaos, there is an entirely different approach God prescribes for the believers.

This is our time to prepare our hearts by drawing near the Lord. Jesus warned us that we would face famine, economic collapse, natural disasters, and plagues. He also assured us that despite the pain and suffering we endure in this life — He has conquered Satan and death on our behalf. He strengthens us for the difficult times that lie ahead by walking us through life's everyday challenges.  "No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:11).

Amid the pain, the harvest of right living is our reward. It gives us the resilience we need to survive the hard times. Instead of fear and panic, we will have hope and peace.

But if we don't walk with God before the trial, how can we trust Him in the storm? We need the posture of trust in the relatively easy times if we want to survive the hard ones. David feared no evil in the shadow of death because He knew God would never leave or forsake him. Faith does not mean we avoid trials; it teaches us how to walk through them. It is the assurance that no matter our difficulties, the power within us is more powerful than all that is in the world. How many have gone through the test of fiery persecution? None of them desired it, but faith tried by fire has the power to survive deprivation, political uncertainty, and evil forces that demand submission to an authority other than God.

The Lord wants us to get closer to glory as the world gets darker. "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (II Corinthians 4:17).

No trial, no darkness, nothing is too difficult when we remember He is the Refiner. His goal is to purify us, so we reflect His likeness. He will remove only what will hinder that goal. We cannot customize our faith to our expectations of comfort and ease and call that “faith.” The disciples expected Jesus to bring victory and free them from the Romans, but he didn't do that. He gave them the tools to see them through the storms until His return.

I am reminded of the powerful story of my friend Marziyeh Amirizadeh. She had a supernatural encounter with Jesus Christ while living in Iran under the radical Islamic regime. She was arrested, jailed, and issued a death sentence just for converting to Christianity. Her captors offered to release her if she renounced Jesus as God, but she refused. For Marziyeh, there was nothing that would separate her from the love of God. She did not fear death because she had peace that the Lord was in control. Ultimately the Lord did intervene, and she emigrated to the U.S., where she now is running for Congress! That is the ultimate posture of the believer.

So as Christians, we cannot surrender to evil and wickedness as a way of coping with the systematic failures of a corrupt government that seeks to subjugate us. As the Apostle Paul wrote, "according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1: 20-21).

Hedieh Mirahmadi was a devout Muslim for two decades working in the field of national security before she experienced the redemptive power of Jesus Christ and has a new passion for sharing the Gospel.  She dedicates herself full-time to Resurrect Ministry, an online resource that harnesses the power of the Internet to make salvation through Christ available to people of all nations, and her daily podcast

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