Crashing like a tsunami wave, choking like tough kudzu vines, or seeping in like fumes through the cracks; fear comes. Whether young or old, home or overseas, rich or poor, healthy or ill none of us is exempt from fear.
All kinds of situations can open the door to fear. A scary diagnosis can seemingly wipe out every support we trusted in. Rumors of political unrest can tie us up with fear. Our own doubts fill our heart insidiously with fear.
After the door is open, then our thoughts become frantic. We make unnecessary contingency plans. We fight phantoms all day. Resources for our important activities become exhausted, and we find ourselves irritable with others. We examine ourselves minutely trying to understand why this is happening to us. The result–Isolation on Terror Island.
I had my own battle with fear last month. A small red spot on my arm had changed very little in over four years. Then a tiny spot appeared on my leg. “Cancer, possibly metastatic!” my thoughts screamed. Every possible scenario invaded my dreams.
In the midst of my most recent battle with fear, I found some resources I want to share.
Ask for prayer. I don’t advocate telling everyone about the situation that has frightened us. Some people only add to our fear by telling us their bad stories. And some belittle our fear. They seem to be saying, “That’s too little a thing to scare me, why are you so afraid?” Choose a few prayer partners you can trust to pray diligently for you without judging you or condemning you.
Keep your mind occupied with positive things. Philippians 4:8 became the test of whether I could pursue a line of thought. Is it true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy? If it didn’t meet the test, it wasn’t worth thinking about.
Up-lifting, joyful, Scripture-filled songs were the music of those days. We have some CDs and tapes that have always inspired my faith. Those were the ones I wanted to listen to. Usually I like music without words while I work. But for those days, the words together with triumphant melodies helped me stand and walk in faith.
Do you ever have trouble letting your husband help you cope with your fears? I had to learn to do that. Often we hear, “Women are emotional and men are logical.” That can make us feel that our husbands, with their logical, rational minds are useless in helping us deal with our problems. My husband helped me by asked me questions that searched out reasons for my fear. He helped me remember other times that were similar and yet had a good outcome. He went with me to the doctor’s office and let me know I wasn’t in the battle all alone. His thoughtful, reasonable approach helped calm my seething emotions.
Finally, meditating on The Word, fed my faith and starved the fear. I took a verse at a time, carried it with me, looked at it often throughout the day, and applied it to the things I was thinking about. It became food for that day. Some passages were especially helpful to me. Following are some examples. Let the Spirit lead you to the ones He wants to use in your life.
Who could help me? Deut. 33: 27- “The Eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Isa. 41:10- “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.” Psa. 46:1- “God is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in trouble.”
Why would He help me? Psa. 86: 15-16- “You, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness. Turn to me and have mercy on me. Grant your strength to your servant and save (your daughter).” Psa. 50:15- “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”
What would He do? Isa. 41: 13-” 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.” Isa. 58: 11-“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isa. 26:3-4 “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yahweh, the Lord, is everlasting strength.” Psa. 34:4- “I sought the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
What is my part? Psa. 27: 14- “Wait for the Lord. Be strong, and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the Lord.” Heb. 4:16- “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need..” Psa. 42:5- “Why are you cast down, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
I’ve had other fear battles in the past. Here are a few more verses that were particularly helpful then and may help you, too.
When finances were low: Heb. 13:5-“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'”
When fear of man threatened to overwhelm: Isa. 51: 12-13 “I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men, who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth. . .”
Heb. 13:6- “So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'” Psa. 27:1- “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
When there are rumors of riots and war: Isa. 8:11-13- “The Lord spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. He said: ‘Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear. . .'”
Fear of growing old and needy: Isa. 46:4- “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he. I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
Fear of persecution: Psa. 31: 14-15-” But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.” Psa. 32: 7-” You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.”
These are just a sample of handholds God will give us in our times of fear. I don’t believe God condemns us when we have a fear battle. But He will meet us in those times and use them to strengthen us.
The Message translation of 2 Cor. 4:18 sums it up well. “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”