I hate fear. It’s such a crippling, soul-crushing emotion and is more than a little frustrating to try to make sense of it. I’m not talking about the “I’m scared of a boogey man in my closet” type of fear, but rather, the “what if” fear that can plague us all. What if the doctor’s results are bad? What if I really do lose my job? What if my ex really does these terrible things to me that he/she is threatening?
I think that many of us out there glide through their lives with very little fear or anxiety. They lead relatively easy-going lives that do not expose them to much in the way of crippling fear. It’s not that they don’t have episodes that cause them fear, but it happens at a rate that does not force them to consider fear something that they encounter with any regularity. I envy these people. Then there are those unlucky souls that, for whatever reason, have FEAR as a constant companion and something that they have to face on a virtually daily basis. I know the differences between these two people because I have been both. I was the former and have now been the latter. I can easily tell you I prefer the former.
It’s a very counter-intuitive process for what FEAR does to you spiritually, but let me tell ya, it will set you back quickly in your spiritual journey and I’m more guilty than most. When one has a relatively peaceful existence, they quickly turn to God and pray “Gee God, thanks for all my blessings. I am so blessed, and it’s all due to you, and I am just at peace and I would like to give the Glory to you.” The simplicity of life and the blessings that we have are readily seen, easily felt, and hopefully, we turn and recognize that it’s due to our God.
When a soul exists in a state of FEAR, the opposite tends to occur (or is that just me?). We do not see our blessings, but instead we see our struggles. We do not feel the presence of God, we feel abandoned. We stop praying to God, but in a way, we begin to pray to OURSELVES. All these little “You can do it!” prayers that we say to ourselves as the depth of our prayers get shallower and shallower and we begin to push God out, and attempt to use our own feeble strength to get through our struggles. We become our own “God” as we feel neglected by God Himself and so we pray less and less and, perhaps, even find some anger for God that He has allowed all of these issues that we don’t want in our lives.
Perhaps there are some of you that experience FEAR that do not do as I do, but rather, you hit your knees and lean on God. If that’s the case, then I’ll just admit that I’m worse than you. I’m fine with that. I will say, though, that it’s a bit of a degenerative disease. When hit with a stressor or fear, we might instantly turn to God, and that’s good. However, when you get hit again and again, day over day, year over year, you are sometimes left so bruised and bloodied that you too might find yourself in the position of struggling with your relationship with God. Like me, at times.
So what do we do? How do we not fear FEAR? How do we find peace amidst the storms of our lives? Man, if I knew how to do THAT, I’d be in one heckuva better state of affairs this evening. That said, I know the answer to my maladies, and maybe that’s why God takes us through them: in order to teach us the lesson of trusting in Him. I don’t want to do that, but what choice do I have when faced with FEAR?
I read a quote one time that I liked: Sometimes God takes you to the depths not to drown you, but to cleanse you.
I have GOT to be clean by now. I have to be. But for whatever reason, He has taken me to the deepest of depths, and has basically held me there. I have prayed and then prayed some more. I have found myself praying to myself, and then trying to come back to God. I get mad and I yell and I shake my fist at God, and then eventually, I crawl back to Him. Rinse and repeat.
And perhaps that’s MY reason for being dragged to the depths: to teach me that I can do NOTHING without Him. Nothing. Nada. Not a darn thing. But sure enough, in my own self-righteousness, I sure want to believe that if God won’t change my circumstances, then I will do it my dang self. Yup, I will simply arm-wrestle my way through life and will eventually rise to the surface and free myself of the chains that seem to bind me.
Yes, I know it’s laughable, but you’ve probably done the same thing.
I have always liked Mark 4:39. “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The mental picture of Jesus turning and yelling at his disciples is such a fun image. As if He turns and says “Seriously guys – why are you freaking out? You do know I’m Jesus, right? Sheesh.” So if Jesus’ disciples can have a “moment” and become FEARful, then I suppose it’s not outside the realm of possibility that we all will have them.
But we have God. And He has brought us to the depths for a good cleansing. I know this is hard, but why not use it as a test and do what you KNOW to do. Lean on Him. Take what comes and thank Him for blessings. Receive the hardship and rejoice that you have been brought to a place where you can glorify God.
Stop the FEAR. Find the FAITH. No, it’s not easy but growth rarely is.