Suffocating. That’s the word that comes to my mind when I think of fear.
I’m talking about heart racing, whole body shaking, short of breath kind of fear– sometimes over something legitimate, sometimes over something totally irrational. Overall, fear is the feeling of being totally and utterly out of control.
I’ve pretty much let fear run its course in my life for, well, my whole life. Sometimes it manifests itself in small ways, like avoiding a certain activity because I fear failing, or avoiding a group of people because I fear rejection. Sometimes it looks a lot bigger, like having an overwhelming sense of dread or anxiety, not being able to sleep at night, or constantly feeling stressed out. It’s probably affected you, too.
Anxiety, insecurity, worry, stress– these are all just different forms of fear.
Fear is nasty. I see this in my own life. But what to do with it?
In some ways, I’m thankful for my fear. When I feel totally confident (in myself), I tend to leave God in the dust. I think that I’m fine. But if I’m scared, I am given a choice: I can panic and run away, or I can trust God.
Fear is an invitation to trust God. It’s also a signal that… you’re not really trusting God in that situation.
Fear comes when we believe a lie about God. I like how this quote puts it: “Fear is born of Satan, and if we would only take time to think a moment we would see that everything Satan says is founded upon a falsehood” (A.B. Simpson).
Take the fear of death. (Starting with the biggest one can be helpful sometimes.) When you or I let that terrifying, suffocating fear that one day I will die and it could be today overwhlem us (for whatever reason), we are not believing what God says. What does He say on this subject? That by His own death, Jesus has “[freed] those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:15). If we believe this Truth (really believe…), we will not be afraid of death.
The nice thing with starting with the big one is that now the other ones are no problem at all. If I’m not afraid of death, then why am I afraid of going to a persecuted area of the world or riding a rollercoaster or sacrificing my comfort or jumping out of an airplane? I love what Charles Spurgeon said: “If you cannot trust God for the temporal, how dare you trust Him for the eternal?”
I say I believe that Jesus has taken the sting out of death and promised eternal life. Why am I afraid of slipping on wet pavement?
I think of a verse that has been immensely helpful to me recently: “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
That verse used to sound so commonplace and overused to me, but now, after God brought it to my attention in a new light, it is precious. When I am afraid– He is with me. When I am weary– He is my God. When I am not strong enough– He is. When I can’t handle it on my own– He will help me. He will never give me a burden or a trial or a circumstance that He will not help me to bear.
Fear is annoying. I despise that paralyzing feeling of being out of control. But I also recognize that it is my chance to see God’s character for what it is. When I am weak, He is strong. He really is– I have felt that now. And you know what? There is something so amazing and humbling and earth-shattering about being at the lowest point of sin and shame and guilt and fear– and that’s when God stoops down and says “I love you.”
I’m a skeptic at heart. I question everything. I don’t take things at face value. But when God comes at my very, very worst– when He whispers love for me then— then I believe Him.
Because how could I not?
You know what blows fear out of the water?
There is no fear in love… because perfect love casts out fear…
When I begin to see God for who He is, when I really get to know His character, I see that He is a God of love. And when I am overwhelmed by the reality of His perfect love for me, I cannot fear.
Love demolishes fear. When we were adopted into God’s family, we gained access to God as our loving father. As beloved children, we are no longer enslaved to fear– instead, we have confidence as sons. (Loosely based on Romans 8:15)
Maybe this is helpful to you. I don’t know, but this is where my heart is at right now. It’s one of those lifelong lessons that starts when you’re born and ends when you’re (finally) glorified with Jesus in heaven. I hope this encouraged you in some way.
Look forward to new post next Tuesday! Gotta keep up with this new year’s resolution… 🙂