Fear – not just anxiety, not just stress, not just nervousness, but fear – has at times been the overriding factor of my emotional life. This has led me in the past to do things or not do things I should or shouldn’t have done, said or not said, responded or not responded. Fear is insidious. It creeps in slyly and, before I know it, I’m overwhelmed by fear.
Sometimes, it’s fear of death, sometimes it’s fear of failure, sometimes it’s fear of other people’s responses, sometimes it’s the fear of the unknown, sometimes it’s the fear of the known. It doesn’t matter what the fear is. What matters is what we do with and about that fear.
Fear itself is a God-given emotion that works as a necessary alarm system which goes off whenever we feel threatened. God has designed this for us to be able to respond to real or perceived dangers. Fear is perfectly natural and can lead to protective behavior. But, when we begin to fear imagined possible outcomes, turning our fear into worry, and allowing that worry to move into anxiety, we place ourselves into bondage.
What to do when that happens? I’ve found some particular Scripture passages to be helpful to me:
· I turn to God. 1 Pet. 5:7 says, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” When my husband was struggling with cancer in 2000, the little chorus “Cast all your cares upon Him” ran through my mind almost constantly. It helped me remember that God, Who has shown His love over and over, will continue to care for me.
· I try to focus on the solution, not the problem. In Matthew 14, Jesus commanded Peter to come to Him on the water. Peter stepped out of the boat and walked towards Jesus. Then, Peter focused on the wind and became afraid. He began to sink and cried out to the Lord. Jesus reached out and caught him. Keeping his eyes on Jesus was the solution to peter’s problem but when he focused on the problem of the boisterous wind, he sank. Keep focused on the solution.
· I try not to waste my energy by worrying. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
· I try to keep my thoughts on God in order to have peace. Isaiah 26:3 says “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You.”
· I pray. Most of us are familiar with the verses in Phil. 4 which tell us to “be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
· All of these things help me to direct me attention toward my true source of hope. Ps. 91:2 tells me the Lord is my refuge and my fortress.