Fear: A Grand Opportunity

Fear: A Grand Opportunity

What are you scared of?

Are you afraid that you are unlovable, that you are not smart enough or that you are too much for people? Are you scared for your future or that God will not come through for you in the many concerns you have? Are you in the midst of a health scare? Are you in need of a place to live? There are many issues that call out to us that can fill us with a great deal of fear and can sometimes leave us feeling numb and unable to stop.

But we know God is with us. We know he tells us to not be afraid. We want him to be enough but, wow, it’s hard to chase fear out of our minds, once it finds its way in.

I had what I am calling a “practice run” with fear this past week. It wasn’t a big scare, but because I’m exploring how I react to fearful situations, I tried to pay attention.

Saturday evening, as my husband and I were packing up our one-year-old grandson’s diaper bag to take him back to his house after a day with us, I stepped away from him for a minute to search for one of his toys. If you know a one-year-old, you know that thinking through the consequences of an action is not yet in his arsenal of understanding. He is fast and he is fearless.

So when I heard his scream, I knew I had made a big mistake. I dashed into the kitchen to find him lying on our back porch floor, crying loudly with a bit of a goose egg swelling on his forehead. He was crying hard but stopped quickly after I picked him up. (He’s a tough little guy.) He seemed to take it in stride.

But I, on the other hand, felt awful. I found myself letting “what if…” scenarios flit through my mind.

This is a small, rather trite example of something that can scare me. Believe me, I realize that. I have friends who are facing much bigger issues with the potential for way greater fears. Depression, a cancer diagnosis, a search for faith, the closing of a deeply desired door and a struggle to find “normal” after a long illness are much more “fear worthy.”

But fear is fear. No matter the size, how do we see our way through it? We want peace and we want to trust God. But, how can we stop being afraid?

In Psalm 143 David had reason to be afraid. An enemy was pursuing him and he was severely depressed, hopeless and anxious. Here’s what he did:

  • He remembered God. He meditated on and considered God’s work in his past.
  • He realized how inadequate he was to fix anything. He spread out his hands and asked God to help him.
  • He trusted God. He hid himself in God and asked God to lead him.
  • He asked God to bring him word of his unfailing love in the morning. Perhaps he was choosing to sleep on it and wait for God to work – on the situation and in his heart.

This is a great example for us so I came up with a few suggestions for when we are afraid:

  • Feel the fear – but don’t feed the fear. “What ifs” are deadly and can create something big out of nothing.
  • Write it down! What exactly am I afraid of?
  • Admit it! I just can’t stop.
  • Remember God. He has been so faithful in the past. Why would he stop this time? I can ask him to do for me what I cannot do for myself by asking him to be my brave. Nestle into Him and get some sleep.
  • Know that God is good. Know that fear is a grand opportunity to put our faith to work and to trust God for whatever he has next for us. Trust builds faith. He can enable us to trust him.

As it turns out, our Oliver is fine. He has a little bump on his head but baby heads are resilient and are built to handle such things like falling down a step.

But I really observed my reaction and my quickness to run to fear. I found Psalm 143 and I prayed and asked God to help me trust him in this small thing. I know there are bigger issues coming and I want to react differently next time.

I can consider this to be a practice run.

What is inviting you to be afraid? Are you ready to give up the working-hard-to-stop-being-afraid game? I encourage us all to settle in, dwell in the safety of God’s presence, and let him be God. This is why we believe. It is for such a time as this.

Deane Watters