Honestly, I’m afraid to write this post. I’m afraid every time I write a blog post, and I’m definitely afraid to publish my book, Tasting Dirt: When Your’re Disappointed With God.
I feel fear about a lot of different things.
So do you, because fear is part of being human.
Fear has a very beneficial purpose, but we’re mostly unaware of it because we let our fears drag us around, make decisions for us, and paralyze us. Fear is not a good leader.
Fear is our warning system. It tells us something is about to go wrong, about to hurt us or the ones we love, and that the risk of bad things happening is greater than the likelihood that they won’t. When we notice that we feel afraid we can identify the source and decide how we are going to handle the threat.
Like when I found a giant black widow spider guarding an egg case on a web strung inside the rim of my son’s toy wheelbarrow. My fear alerted me to a threat, I decided that was an accurate assessment, and I asked Steven to kill the spider by lighting the garage on fire while I went inside and threw up.
Just kidding, I didn’t really throw up. I just changed all my clothes, put them in the washer, brushed out my hair to check it for spiders, and did some breathing exercises to calm down until I no longer felt like throwing up.
See, often our fear is too big for the reality of the situation. Fear sees the potential for harm as unlimited. When, in reality, there really is a limit on how bad things could get.
I wasn’t really in danger from the black widow, and neither was Dorian. There weren’t actually spiders all over me, and I guess the garage didn’t need burned down.
That’s why we can’t let fear make decisions.
Fear likes to overreact. That’s how it steals our happiness and joy. We cannot simultaneously experience gratitude on the deep emotional, physical, and spiritual level which produces joy while we are afraid of losing what we’ve been given. We can’t experience love while we’re afraid we aren’t worth it.
Fear is from Satan, who wants to make us slaves to fear. Namely the fear of death and it’s precursors – loss and suffering.
“The thief [Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [Jesus] have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”John 10:10 NIV
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV
Jesus beat fear for us by beating death.
No matter what happens now, even if the worst happens in this life, we don’t have to be afraid, even to die.
And, we don’t have to be afraid to live, because we belong to God and we don’t have to be afraid of him.
“We need have no fear of someone who loves us perfectly; [God’s] perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what he might do to us. If we are afraid, it is for fear of what he might do to us and shows that we are not fully convinced that he really loves us. So you see, our love for him comes as a result of his loving us first.”1 John 4:16-19 ESV
“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
“…for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.‘ So we can confidently say,Hebrews 13:5 ESV
‘The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?'”
When I read that last line, “what can man do to me?”, my first thought is: a lot, humans can hurt me a lot. Humans have hurt me a lot.
Even if we know we don’t have to be afraid, we still feel fear sometimes. Like a phobia, sometimes the level of fear we feel is irrational. That’s when we need truth. Truth keeps us from burning down the garage.
No human can take me away from God’s love, no one can make God stop loving me, not even Satan can undo what Jesus did on the cross.
“For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.”Romans 8:38-39 TLB
Life is scary. There is a lot of potential for pain here, but that potential is limited by Jesus’ victory over death. There is unlimited potential for goodness because God is good enough and strong enough to take even the pain and suffering we experience and make it beneficial. He takes what our enemy tries to harm us with and reshapes it into something good for us and good for others. When we let him.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”Romans 8:28 NIV
“As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil, for he brought me to this high position I have today so that I could save the lives of many people.”Joseph – after being sold into slavery as a child by his own brothers, wrongfully imprisoned for years, and then made second in power in ancient Egypt
Genesis 50:20 TLB
“What can we ever say to such wonderful things as these? If God is on our side, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son for us but gave him up for us all, won’t he also surely give us everything else?”Romans 8:31-32 TLB
“For I, the Lord your God,Isaiah 41:12-14 ESV
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not,
I am the one who helps you.’”
Like with my book. Out of a miscarriage, disappointment, suffering, depression, anxiety, and a whole host of other scary stuff God is bringing a book which, I believe, will help others.
We can acknowledge our fear, evaluate it, and respond accordingly. Sometimes we do the scary thing anyway. Sometimes we address the threat. But, we don’t let fear burn down the garage, or make any other big decisions for us, because God is the one leading us by the hand. We can trust him because he loves us.
Oh hey, it’s Valentine’s Day! Seems like the appropriate time to write about love, so that will be the next feeling in this series of posts. Thanks for reading!