“There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18
A friend once told me that he deals with a lot of fear in his life. I was surprised. He didn’t seem like a fearful person in all the years I’d known him. But his confession got me to thinking. Am I fearful? Honest reflection revealed that I too had a lot of fear. I mildly resented him for a while. I was blissfully ignorant before he mentioned HIS problem. Now I had it. Actually he was simply being honest. I was not.
Someone has written, “Fear touches every area of our lives. It is an evil and corroding thread.” I don’t want to awaken you to a problem you otherwise were oblivious to, but I suspect that you struggle as I do with fear.
My daughter recently sent me a cartoon of a young woman, obviously distraught, head buried in her hands. The caption read, “I’m not anxious! I’m just extremely well educated about all the things that can go catastrophically wrong!” Combine our human tendency to worry with the present age of chronic apocalypse and it’s a wonder any of us can breathe.
Let’s confess the obvious: fear touches our lives in an infinite variety of ways. We don’t make any progress by refusing to acknowledge a problem. Once we identify it we can begin to deal honestly with it.
Though fear is pervasive, it is also unnatural. God did not create us to live anxious lives. The fact is we develop a habit of fear and then begin to justify its existence. I had a secretary once who could imagine a 100 different catastrophic results and be right only once. But that one time convinced her that she needed to keep imagining catastrophic results!
Worry does not take away tomorrow’s problems. It only robs you of today’s peace. Accept the diagnosis. Fear is the problem.
But let’s look at the solution. The opposite of fear is trust, and it is at this point that God constantly tries to assure us. John wrote that perfect love casts out fear. He meant that if we love God constantly and deeply then fear is an impossibility. I don’t have a perfect love for God. I don’t have a perfect anything! But I do understand a simple invitation. God is saying, “love me. Trust Me. I will not let you down. I will either show you how your fear is irrational, or I will carry you through the fearful events you encounter.”
What do we do practically here? The best antidote to fear, and the best expression of trust, is gratitude. When you are fearful, pause and think of something you’re grateful for. Thank God for it. That simple prayer makes you aware of a way that God has taken care of you. It is a spiritual reminder that as He has acted in the past, He will certainly act in the present and the future.
Many times we feel so overwhelmed that we forget we have a choice. You DO have a choice. It has been restored to you through your faith in Jesus Christ. You are not alone. Ask God to help you with your fear. Ask Him to remove it, and be willing to let it go.
Dr. Terry Ellis
August 3, 2014