Have you ever felt absolutely swallowed up, surrounded, suffocated, and strangled by fear? Have you laid awake at night, tossed and turned, stared at a ceiling that holds no answers, prayed until you don’t know what else to say? Have you cried about the things you worry may happen? Have you been paralyzed by terror?
Even Christians can be fearful. Even when we know that the Keeper of the Universe is in charge of things and is our Father and Friend, we worry. Maybe this is because, although we know that He is in control, we are still concerned about what He may choose to do with our lives. After all, we have seen people more godly than we are who are dealing with cancers, accidents, crime, and a host of other scary situations. We know that, yes, bad things can happen to good people. And, even when we can truly believe in our souls that whatever happens will glorify Him, we still naturally don’t wish to endure the hardships that we so fear.
I have always been exceptionally gifted in imagining the worst. I love a good imagination, but mine sometimes works overtime creating any manner of terrifying scenarios that my kids, my husband, or I may face. I can come up with some of the most wacky, off-the-wall, totally irrational fears. In fact, I am so good at imagining these things that when I was in the sixth grade I began to have panic attacks.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had a panic attack, but it is one of the most awful feelings I have ever experienced. You feel like you’re going to die. Heart pounding, throat closing, everything is spinning, and you feel completely out of control. I haven’t had a panic attack in over 20 years, and I still vividly remember what it feels like. I learned at that tender age that I was going to have to be utterly dependent on the God I had trusted to save my soul several years before. I learned how to breathe. How to allow the Holy Spirit to minister to me in those horrifying moments. I figured out that God is there. I remembered that I can trust Him.
And every day since then my life has been a continual exercise in remembering that.
Now when I am afraid of losing the ones who are everything to me, I am reminded that there is only one Everything. And, when I think about how I wouldn’t survive if this happened or if that happened, I am gently led by the Holy Spirit to understand that if the worst happens, I still have Everything. In fact, Everything never changes. He is the Great I Am, the One who Was and Is and Is To Come. And, Everything never leaves. He never stops caring. He never leaves me with nothing, even if He takes all that I know. He gives, He takes away, and He remains.
I’ve heard it said that fear is faith in the enemy. I don’t know if I really believe that’s true. Maybe those of us who are especially fearful were created with extra tenderness. Maybe he made us tender and soft and easily broken because in our weakness, in our fearful state, we are constantly learning to trust Him. To believe Him. To acknowledge Him as Everything. And when we can make it through, when we can conquer and we can be tough and we can overcome our fears, we bring Him glory. Because it is so obvious that it isn’t easy for us. But, God can do so much with tender hearts, imaginations that run wild, and utter dependence. Before long, fear gives way to a deeper faith.
Peace to your hearts, my fellow fearers. God sees. He loves. He is working on us.