Your eyes stare into the darkness. What was it that woke you from your slumber? Your ears strain to hear anything over the rapid beat of your heart. Was that the sound of a step in another part of the house? Was it a moth crashing against a window? The rational part of your mind calmly explains to you that it was nothing more than a vestige of a dream remembered upon waking or perhaps the sounds of the house groaning and moaning because of the change in temperature, but you know that you are going to have to walk through the house, chest constricted by shallow breaths, until you have checked each door, and ensured that everything is as it should be.
It is a remarkable power that fear has over us. It has the ability to rob us of joy and to cause us to turn away from opportunities that hold great promise. It transforms the silhouette of a coatrack glimpsed out of the corner of the eye into an attacker and fills the darkness with horrors that only exist in our imaginings. Fear causes us to constantly ask “what if?” It causes us to imagine the worst-case scenarios and makes us certain that those will be how things will play out.
The problem with this is that fear is a direct contradiction to faith. God has called us to have faith and to follow Him. Imagine, standing in the sandals of Daniel, faced with the lion’s den, how easy it would have been to be concerned about how you might escape. Or, perhaps, imagine being Esther, contemplating the very real possibility of execution for disturbing the king, and wondering whether someone else might be better suited to the task. The Bible is filled with situations where fear was a very real factor, and yet faith in God led people to do the unimaginable.
Faith is trust. Think about the last time that you sat down. Did you closely examine your seat before you attempted a landing? If it was a chair, did you check to make sure that it was well constructed and that all of the fasteners were adequately tightened? Did you lower yourself toward the seat cautiously, slowly allowing your weight to rest on the seat until you were sure of its stability? More than likely, you did not. Instead, you found a spot to sit and, with more or less grace, simply sat down. Why is our faith in God less?
In Luke 12:22-24 (ESV), Jesus promised, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” Having faith in God means trusting His promises. As Jesus speaks to the disciples in this passage, He urges them to understand the love that God has for us. Later, in Luke 15, Jesus uses the Parable of the Prodigal Son to illustrate God’s longing to forgive us and to see us rejoined in relationship to Him. This, He explained, is who God is, and how deeply He loves us.
When we understand that God is watching over us, protecting us with such vigilance that Paul told the Romans that he was “sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (8:38-39), why is it that we are plagued by fear? How is it that we find it easier to trust a chair to bear our weight than to trust the God of creation and of eternity?
Fear blinds us to the security that we have in Him. It is like being a child and being paralyzed by the imagined boogeyman under the bed or in the closet. Fear consumes the rational mind that says that there is no way that anything could fit into that space, or that there was no boogeyman when we turned off the light. However, when your parent appeared, drawn by the whimpers of your distress and turned on the light, the boogeyman vanished simply through the safety that you felt because of their mere presence. In the same way, our fears can be extinguished by the presence of God. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul reminds Timothy that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (1:7)
As fear and anxiety begin to cloud your vision and start you on the “what if” loop, ask yourself “am I trusting God? Do I believe that He loves me sufficiently to see me through this trial?” Remind yourself that God is on the throne, and cares enough to know the number of hairs on your head. Remember, in Philippians 4:6, we are told not to be anxious, but to constantly be in prayer. God cared enough to send His begotten Son so that the whole world would have an opportunity to experience redemption; He cares enough to calm your fears.
Contributed by Jeremy Laughead, Director of Internal Processes