I used to live in a state of absolute terror 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I always had a reason to be anxious and worried. If things weren’t going according to plan, I feared that my life would be destroyed and I would have no way of fixing things. If things were going according plan, I thought up every possible scenario that could ruin my state of serenity and I’d live in fear of each and every single circumstance.
Living in fear is not living at all. It’s barely surviving. Living in fear means that every second of every day, we’re tortured by what could happen, what’s going to happen, and how that might leave us in limbo. It’s living off of hypothetical circumstances. In hindsight, I see that I created a lot of my own chaos back then. It was my fault that I had such bad indigestion, back pain, and trouble sleeping. These physical symptoms were signs of an emotional, mental, and spiritual unrest in my life. I wasn’t dealing with several issues appropriately and they in turn, were dealing with me.
I think that fear is a healthy response to a dangerous situation. But in excess, living in fear becomes the dangerous situation. You don’t think clearly because you probably can’t think at all. You expend so much mental energy in worrying, sighing, fantasizing, and slowly deteriorating, that you have very little time to be productive at all. So when you eventually snap out of your fear, you look around and find yourself in the very situation that you were always afraid of: being helpless.
I believe that much of the behaviors, thought processes, and our interactions with our environment are shaped by our experiences as children. For me, living in fear was a learned behavior. I was taught to be afraid of every situation because it was constantly drilled into my head that I wasn’t quite adequate as a young person. One of the worst things that stuck with me from growing up around an emotionally unstable and verbally abusive mother was that she made me feel inadequate and helpless. When you feel inadequate and helpless, the world is quite incredibly scary place.
The enemy is a crafty intelligent little devil too. He picked up on my fears and anxieties and he exploited them at every chance that he could. I consulted friends about my endless worries, coworkers who Inever should’ve trusted, family members, church members, just about everyone. The only person that I did not consecrate my fear to was God. As soon as I started spending quiet time in the morning, my fear level decreased. I read the Word of God which clearly speaks about worry warts like me. Although we’re needy, sometimes unbearable, and mostly irrational, God looked out for His children that would be worry warts when He inspired the written word of the Bible.
In Isaiah 7:4, The Lord instructs Isaiah to tell Ahaz: “Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart…” This verse touches home base quite a bit with me because God instructs Ahaz to be careful first. One has to be careful in order to keep calm and not to be afraid. In other words, I felt like God was telling me that I would have to make a mindful decision not to be consumed by this overwhelming, heart-wrenching, and handicapping sense of fear. I continued to read: “….If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” Isaiah 7:9 By living in fear, I was not living on my faith. Hence, I was not standing at all by crawling on my hands in knees as if a soldier in combat. Indeed I could not stand because I was rejecting my faith in God.
Even though these few verses were somewhat encouraging, God still challenged me not just to cast my fear aside but to completely overcome it. In Isaiah 35: 4, the Bible says: “say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance; with diving retribution he will come to save you.” Living in fear is actually breaking one of God’s commandments as He says in Isaiah 43:1 “…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” I am still in amazement to think that being fearful is actually disobeying the Word of God.
Especially since the recession had just occurred, I was living in fear of my boss. Even though they were rude, obnoxious, and mistreating me, I totally feared that they would fire me. “If they fire me, I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent and I’d have to live out the street” I would tell myself. Thank God (literally) that I stumbled upon Isaiah 51:12 that says: “I am the one who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal men, the songs of men who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your Maker…that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction?” Let me just tell you, after I read that verse, I said out loud: “Praise Him!” He was speaking directly to me. He was encouraging me and yet challenging me to let go of a frienemy that I’ve had since childhood. It’s been a few months now and fear and I still haven’t talked much. Occasionally fear will send me a text saying: “What’s on your mind?”. Armed with the Word of God, I quickly delete the message just so I can’t look at it later. I have officially moved on.
Write out a list of your worst fears and then pray to God about them. Warning: you may walk right into these fearful situations after you do but that is because God wants to walk you right up to your fear and deliver you for good. Now that when you write your list and bring it to God, He will mostly likely bring them to you but only to show Himself mighty.
Are you living in constant fear? Is it affecting your ability to trust God? What may be the causes of your fear? Do you really believe that God can do anything, even deliver you from your worst fears?