December 1, 2020
Scrape. Screeeeeech. Scraaaatch.
I lay in bed trapped in fear, paralyzed at the sinister sounds outside my dark window. My mouth felt like the Sahara Desert. Pounding against my chest, my heart beat loud enough to give away my presence. Unable to breathe, I fixed my gaze upon the pane and the shadows of long, bony fingers clawing at the glass. Surely, any moment the intruder would burst into my bedroom.
I was eight years old then. Today, I don’t recall how long I remained in that state of terror before escaping into slumber. But I do remember the next morning waking to those same sounds—wind whipping tree branches against the side of the house.
When we hear an unfamiliar sound, see something strange, sense an unknown presence, or face changes or challenges, our minds often spin into worst case scenarios. What creative thinking—albeit not always positive thoughts—we have during these moments.
Think back to a time you were afraid and your fears turned out to be unfounded. What fueled the fear? How did you respond? When did your fear dissipate? Was it when you discovered F.E.A.R.—the acronym leading to the truth: “False Evidence Appearing Real”?
Last month, we focused on what it is to fear God. Now, let us take a look at scriptures that encourage us to fear not.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
If only we could remain calm before spiraling into frenzied fear. Following are actions I have found helpful:
Steps We Can Take to Cultivate Courage When Fear Invades Our Thoughts:
- Take a deep breath, several in fact, making sure to exhale slowly. This sends the message to our minds and bodies that we are capable of responding rather than reacting.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)
2. Now that our mind is clearer, we can ask God for the truth of the situation.
- Listen for His answer.
- If we hear, or sense, the Lord revealing there is no real threat (as in the case of my harmless tree branches), believe Him.
- Quote a bolstering verse, e.g. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3 (NIV)
- Move forward in faith and trust.
But what do we do when there is no doubt whatsoever that we are in a dire situation, or worse yet, about to be harmed?
Steps We Can Take to Cultivate Courage When Harm is Imminent or We Face Changes/Challenges:
1.Take several deep breaths, exhaling slowly, whether in a job interview or being held at gunpoint. We need to be as fully functioning as possible to deal with this situation, and most importantly to clearly communicate with God.
2. Ask God for the truth of the situation.
3. Listen for His answer.
4. Ask Him to open our spiritual eyes so we can see what He sees.
- I am reminded of a foreign missionary who was surrounded by a murderous mob. As the woman prayed, God opened her eyes to see angels between her and the besiegers. She watched as the attackers retreated, leaving her unharmed.
“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them.” Psalm 34:7 (NIV)
- Although I have asked God to show me what He sees on various occasions, I have yet to receive a vivid picture in the spiritual realm. However, I have been flooded with peace—another way of seeing.
- Ask for God’s protection.
“He will cover you with His feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” Psalms 91:4 (NIV)
- Put our hands in His to walk through the circumstances:
“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)
- It is vital to know God doesn’t always deliver us out of harm’s way, or a threatening situation, but He does always bring us through to the other side, whether it be on this earth or in heaven. Either way is a win. David the shepherd boy, then king, stated it perfectly:
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 (ESV)
- When God walks with us through the fire, we are strengthened, wiser, and more prepared for what is to come.
- Embrace and rejoice that we are not alone in this.
“Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (HCSB)
The Bible is full of stories where real threat was present, yet those who were involved feared God and did not fear what man, or anything else, could do to them. There was Daniel in the lions’ den, Moses crossing the Red Sea with less-than-friendly soldiers hot on his heels, Joshua facing an army of enemies, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, among many others. It is encouraging to read these accounts, and with Google at our fingertips, it is easy to transport ourselves into these amazing annals.
When fear flies in our face, if we are familiar with what God has done over the ages to rescue people, we can take heart, knowing He will do the same for us.
I embrace this following verse personally, believing God wants me to encourage all of you, whether you are a follower of Christ, a non-believer, or one who is searching for answers:
“Tell everyone who is discouraged, Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue…” Isaiah 35:4 (GNB)
I love you, my dear readers, and want the very best for you. Whether you believe God exists or not, what do you have to lose—except fear— in calling out to God, even if He is unknown to you, when circumstances seem insurmountable?
Presently, we all are in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, political turmoil, and a national economic struggle, among other challenges. None of us knows for sure what lies ahead regarding each of these, but the following verse gives me hope:
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)
Prayer: “Thank you, Lord, for blessing readers of this blog with your love, your promises, and your presence. May they be blessed, protected, and have hope. Amen.”
Thought for the Day: “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”—Plato