Hoarders: the Real Fear Factor

Let’s interpret the real Fear Factor on TV: Hoarders. My wife and I recently got Netflix. I have not had regular TV channels in my house for about ten years, as I have found it a monstrous waste of time and mind.

In any case, I’ve never seen 99% of the shows that most of you watch regularly. Last night we watched A&E’s “Hoarders,” and I must say I was hoardified. We watched season 1 episode 4, Jennifer&Ron/Jill. Jill especially caught my attention; a house filled with rotting and expired food. What was the issue for Jill? She had experienced times of joblessness and poverty in the past, and never, ever, ever was going to be caught without food again.

She described how she could simply not resist food sales at the grocery store, and would then fill her rooms with everything from organic chicken stock to pumpkins to jars of grain and flour, and a fridge filled with rotting meat, etc…

Ohhh, one more little thingy of butter couldn't hurt!

When the TV show arrived to help her, the psychologist on scene began to work with her on why she had to have all of this rotting food.

Over and over throughout the episode she described her tremendous fear that she may be jobless again someday, and would need a good stockpile of food to make it through. The psychologist did an admirable job convincing her to throw out some of the rotten food, and even spoke of helping her to change her behavior so she wouldn’t just fill it up again.

Now, where did I put my trust again? Can't find the darn thing.

Yet my thoughts went beeline for the Bible. From God’s perspective, what is going on with Jill? Well, simply put, she has been enslaved to her fear factor. She has a sin-nature which means she has put something else in the place of God… but for this poor lady her sin is a lot less sanitary than yours or mine. Jill does not appear to be familiar with the Providence of God – the reality that He gave her life, sustains it, and can take it away at any time. She seems to have put her trust in food which (very visually) perishes. This sad spectacle is what any one of us is really like on the inside: fearful and unbelieving in God’s goodness, seeking to protect ourselves with little defenses and tricks… but we are all under a delusion.

And what is food but only a temporary stay on an inevitable death?

Jesus said it best in a few quotes from Matthew 6:

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

Asking the Father for our food and sustenance, trusting that He is good to us and generous to give it.

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Jesus admonishes us to have a heavenly, eternal mindset and not to be emotionally, spiritually invested in the things of earth. This life is short, and once its gone, whatever material goods we had here will be lost to us forever.

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

Worry is a lack of faith, which means we’ve put something or someone else in the place of God. To know Him is to trust Him.

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Let God be in charge of the “what ifs,” and you simply seek His kingdom and righteousness (another way of saying seek Jesus).

Let Go and Recognize God

If God wills for you to live to be 104, then you will live to be 104 by taking normal, reasonable precautions against unemployment, bad health, or house fires. If your time is through at 40, you will die at 40 with a house full of provisions, money, water filters, and guns. Nobody can extend their life a second past when God chooses to take them.

Looking at it from another biblical angle, Jill is actually better off than a neat and clean, mentally stable yuppie who has no visible problems. The yuppie is in just as much need for Christ as is Jill the hoarder, but only one of them has their sin so visibly manifested that it cannot be hidden. If sin is our greatest problem, then who would you rather be: the self-secured yuppie or the ragged, broken old lady who cannot help herself at all? I’d rather be the person who is brought to a visible reminder of how badly I need Jesus – and His Word does say in 1 Corinthians 1:

27 God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.

So… for Jill, for you, and for me, will we trust in God who is the Sovereign Creator, or will we place our trust and hope in something far less worthy of our trust? Poor Jill’s faithlessness was manifest in a mental illness, and I dearly hope she finds some help and health for her mind – yet much more so, I hope that someone reaches her with the liberating, hope-filled gospel of grace so that she can be ready to die forgiven of her sin.

I hope that for you, too, my friends.

Categories: Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Hoarders: the Real Fear Factor

  1. Blog Reader

    Oh dear. Let’s keep in mind that mental illness is not just a manifestation of faithlessness, nor is faith necessarily a cure for real mental illness. Hoarding is not so much a sin, as it is a mental illness. I get nervous when I hear this type of talk. Brings to mind those kids who die of nose bleeds ’cause their cult member parents won’t use any medical treatment other than prayer…

    What a fascinating decision for a faithful Christ lover to make: getting Netflix after years without ‘regular TV channels’…

    • Oh dear indeed, I wouldn’t subscribe to that idea. Did I give the impression that I was blaming mental illness on somebody’s bad deeds and sins? Heavens no. I would however point out that mental illness in general is a sympton of man’s fall into sin and darkness, and that for many people, their choices lead them into mental illness.

      Hoarding is a mental illness which can be and I speculate probably was not helped by Jill’s sinful tendency to trust more in herself than in her Creator. I’m very close with certain family and friends who will be on medication the rest of their lives for severe mental diseases. Don’t get me wrong – I know they would never choose it, and if there were some magic faith cure they’d take it. I feel for Jill.

      And what’s so fascinating about me getting Netflix? Was that sarcasm? It eliminates the worst thing about TV: the commercials and the lack of choice of what to watch and when. I dunno…

  2. Michelle

    A study must be done to see if there is a correlation with hoarding, divorce, and lack of faith in God.

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