The presence of fear does not mean you have no faith. Fear visits everyone. But make your fear a visitor and not a resident. ~ Max Lucado
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
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An unwelcome visceral, gut-level response that makes my stomach churn, my face blotch and my hands shake. Fear is an interloper. An unwelcome visitor. A thief to my peace. A shadow on my soul.
As a wee one, I feared the “scary things” that bumped in the night; the silhouette in the closet, the darkness under my bed, the sounds outside my window. I would holler for my Dad, and he would stomp up the wood stairs, throw open the door, turn on the light and say, “What? Don’t be afraid, there is nothing in here….” Once I saw my circumstance in the light, I knew what he said was true.
As a young woman (and not a follower of Jesus Christ), I feared not being smart enough, pretty enough, successful enough blah blah blah. I wore my fear like a chip on my shoulder – If I failed to accomplish – I would withdraw into another kind of dark; one of self doubt, lack of control and anxiety…. There was no room for light in my personal fear.
When I became a mom, I lived in fear for my children….all the time. Living outside a major metropolitan city where daily news can rip out the heart and strain your mental balance was difficult. It was I who would sit like a sentinel in the dark – watching my boys sleep, anxious and worried. Well I remember being terrified for their safety after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. They were so little. My fear was so big. It was exhausting.
Fear will eat you – body and soul… and the enemy OF our soul knows it.
And he delights in it. Satan loves nothing better that to use the tool of fear on us – because when we are paralyzed and in fear – we are exhibiting a lack of trust in our Father God. Deep inside ourselves we wonder…. is God big enough, strong enough, good enough, powerful enough, does he care enough… to address our fears, to meet our needs or to calm the storm (or calm us).
You see, being a control freak is one on my spiritual gifts 😉 I would rather muscle through my troubles than hand them off to God. After 17 years of walking with Jesus, dipping in and out of His light, I am still learning how to lean on God through my fears and trust Him in the midst.
Here is what I am learning:
God is the same yesterday as He is today and tomorrow – He is sovereign and nothing happening is a surprise to Him. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
God is really clear that fear is not of Him, it is of the enemy, Satan and so when we give ourselves over to fear, we are giving the Liar control in our lives. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
To feel uncontrollable fear is to be paralyzed. When we are paralyzed we either go dark and withdraw or we strike out and strike hard. Neither are a good response to fear. God tells us how to handle this: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” Psalm 94:19
God promises us as His children, He will fight for us, along side of us and protect us. No, I am not saying that bad things won’t happen – we live in a fallen world – what I am saying is that God is right there in the midst. “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22 “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
We can trust our Father to show up. All we need to do is call on Him. “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
I have heard it said that “Fear Not” or “Do not Fear” is referenced in the Bible 365 times, give or take a few. Regardless of the actual number, isn’t it great that God knows His dear ones are weak and fearful – and so reminds us daily NOT to be afraid?
When I was a child, I called on my Dad to turn on the light of my room to cast out the scary shadows… but we have a Heavenly Father who IS light – and He will banish the shadows of our fears…if we will just trust Him to do so.
Father God: Thank you for reminding me that I can trust you to calm my fears and walk with you past the shadows. You are my light – and where light is, there can be no darkness. Amen.
“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27