Whenever I am afraid

 

trustFear!  The realization of the fragile nature of our human existence can bring terrors, can’t it?  It was as if a chill wind blew through that room, 3 years ago, when the physician told Bev and me that she had advanced cancer, needed extensive surgery and chemotherapy. We both literally shook with fear as we stared into the unknown future.  After we left his office, we sat together in our car choking on our tears.  The old enemy Death stood inches from us and we trembled.  In the months that followed, I found my footing and was strong for her, holding her up, encouraging her in faith. But, that fear became a ‘friend’ who visited often, especially in the early predawn hours when I awakened with a start and listened to her as she slept. As her time of death drew near, I found God’s comfort.  When she died, the three months that followed were filled with constant anxiety, broken by moments of sheer panic – “What now, how can I live? I am alone.”

Are you afraid? Do you dread failure? Do you feel the anxiety so common to humanity? Is the future something that is dark, without hope? You are not alone, nor are you unique! Anxiety, ranging from a mild sense of discomfort to a disorder so profound that a person cannot function, affects millions of Americans. The threats are real- our health fragile, people who fail us, the world full of tension. So, must we simply be afraid? No, Christian friend, we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”  (Romans 8:37)

How do we defeat those fears?

The first thing we must do is to change our thoughts, feeding our mind with the Truth.  The Psalm teaches us to sing, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4, NIV)  Trusting God is not done passively. There must be an active decision to look up, to commit ourselves to Him. Through the years when I awaken worried about things or feeling overwhelmed, I create a mental image of whatever it is that is troubling, then I take it in my hand and, palms up, offer it to God. Prayer, accompanied by that symbolic act of submission, helps me to reorient my mind around His care.

We can defeat our fears by making a realistic evaluation of our situation. Much of our anxiety is a kernel of fact surrounded by a lot of speculation! I do not suggest that all fear is baseless. But, to imagine every possible problem, to create scenarios of what could possibly go wrong, is a sure way to live fearfully all the time.  The facts tell me that the most dangerous thing I do every day is driving my car.  About a hundred people will die on our highways today. Thousands more will be injured or experience property damage.  So, should I just stay home? No, exercise appropriate caution, drive defensively, and wear my seatbelt. That allows me to live with the very small but real risk involved with operating an automobile. Instead of letting our fears be magnified, we can reduce them by committing ourselves to the One who knows all our tomorrows.

We find security in a deep respect for the Almighty God! Have you ‘tamed’ God, making Him small? Have you robbed Him of His majesty?  Consider the wonderful world He has made. Thank Him for the intricacies of that amazing body He gave you.  And as we magnify Him, our fears grow smaller.  “Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. …He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.” (Psalm 112:7-8, NIV)

If you are reading this and thinking that I am encouraging you to live in denial or to just ‘think happy thoughts’ I have not communicated clearly. Fear is defeated by knowing the Living God, through Christ, so that the Spirit is active in us and through us. Paul wrote to his young somewhat timid friend, Timothy, reminding him (and us) of God’s real power. “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV)  WE are strong in His might!

Here is a word from the Word. I have chosen The Message so that a familiar passage can become fresh in our minds. Read it thoughtfully, prayerfully, and go face those fears with faith.

“And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours.

 This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.

Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (Ephesians 6:10-18, The Message)

______________
Stand strong when life changes
Stand strong through the ups and downs
Stand strong for you know that God is in control

The storms of life will push and pull
But we are standing on the Rock that never rolls
The storms of life will push and pull
We will keep standing
God is in control

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