Fear of life’s unpredictable circumstances is a prevalent disease in this century. The Bible says much about fear; it also gives the antidote. But do we take the prescribed cure?
Moses was afraid and doubted himself as he asked God, ‟‛Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh?ʼˮ (Exodus 3:11). God responded by giving Moses His name, ‟‛I AM WHO I AMʼ… Thus you will say, ‛I AM has sent me to youʼˮ (v.14). It is God’s resounding ‟I AMˮ that drowns out our weak ‟I canʼt.ˮ As we react with fear, God responds with assurance. Note the contrast, not only in the meaning of words but in relationship. Fear and a sense of ‟I canʼtˮ center on ourselves; faith and assurance are built upon the character of God and who He is. Note the familiar 23rd Psalm, ‟Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil [harm]; for Thou art with meˮ (v.4). Walking without fear is possible because of Godʼs presence. ‟When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Thy consolations delight my soulˮ (Psalm 94:19). Again, itʼs a matter of changing the focus from ourselves to God, who is completely trustworthy.
The by-product of slaying the fear dragon is receiving Godʼs peace. During the long intercontinental flight to Asia, God reminded me of the promise in Philippians 4:6-7, ‟Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.ˮ Although Bill and I experienced firsthand the Aquino revolution in Manila, Philippines, we had perfect peace, something only God could supply.
When we returned back to the States, our daughter’s wedding plans began to unfold. The Lord provided one need after another, increasing her faith, a gift we could not have given her from a savings account. Because no risk was involved, I postponed surgery for awhile. But we still had to deal with our future plans for ministry. It became evident we would return to Wilmore, and that ought to have pleased me. Instead, I became anxious.
I dealt with feelings of inadequacy and asked myself, ‟Do I want to be that vulnerable for possible hurt again?ˮ For days I repeated that question to myself. Then God spoke with definite assurance. Yes, I am inadequate, and I can’t project the future. What matters, though, is that God is adequate. The sovereign, almighty God is there in my future, the same yesterday, today and forever. He is not I Was or I Will Be, but He is the great I AM.
Bill and I returned to Wilmore – to the same house (which sold six months later) and to the same ministries. But I was different because of lessons learned over those two years. A new freedom released me to be myself in Christ. A new trust level enabled me to turn circumstances over to the Lord more easily. Troubles did come; changes did happen in our jobs and family. What were ‟not supposed to happen to usˮ did happen. We experienced hurt and pain, but this time we found the God of all comfort to be true to His word.
‟Out of controlˮ could have been the signpost, except that our sovereign God is always in charge and on a personal level. The situation was out of my control, but I could control how I reacted internally and externally. God supplied the inner peace, and He also made me more sensitive to the hurts of others. Realizing my own struggles, I know that others travel similar paths and need to move from fear to faith.
Increased faith comes from greater knowledge of God and His character and that only comes through the study of His Word. One study of particular help to me was in answering the question ‟Who is like the Lord our God?ˮ (Psalm 113:5a). I found answers in such Scriptures as Exodus 15:11-13; Isaiah 44:6-8; 46:5,9; 57:15; Jeremiah 10:6-16; II Samuel 7:22; 22:32-33; Philippians 2:5-11. Search these passages for yourself; find others; prepare a catalog on the character of God. These will become a stronghold when fear threatens your faith in God.
At the first onset of fear, beware. Change your focus from yourself and your circumstances to God and His great love. I make this change of focus in my prayers when I notice they are being said out of fear rather than related to faith. For example, when I pray for our son, that he will not have a car accident on the way to work, I know this is prayer voiced out of fear. I still ask the Lord to protect him, but my focus is on the Lord and His goodness and not on the possible harm. In this refocusing I may have to go through the process of working fear out, to visualize what could be the worst possible outcome—such as, our son having a crash, being paralyzed or killed, leaving his family without a husband and father. But I know that God is there—at the worst possible outcome. And if God is there, His great love is there also.
That night in the hotel I was consumed with fear, and my restlessness kept me awake until I let go of my worries and let God give me His peace. God is faithful, and He is good.