Sunday, January 27, 2008

Conquering Fear

Before I ever was diagnosed with Panic Disorder, I struggled for years with what I now know is a symptom of that ailment: irrational fear. I was afraid all of the time. There was no doubt in my mind that something terrible was just around the corner. If my husband was twenty minutes late coming home from work, I was already planning his funeral and my life as a widow. It was not unusual for me to wake my husband up in the middle of the night because I thought I smelled smoke or heard a noise. In those early years, Steve did quite a bit of traveling for his job. Not wanting to give my children an inkling that I was afraid, I would have to make myself turn off all of the lights at night as usual when he was gone overnight. Then I would lie in bed shivering in fear, praying to God for protection.

Fear is a crippling emotion. Rationality flees when we are afraid. We can’t think clearly or make good decisions. Fortunately, Scripture has a lot to tell us that will serve to calm our fears. When we learn to see our circumstances in the light of a spiritual perspective, we can put fear in its proper place.

Having a Godly perspective means understanding there is more at work than what we can see with human eyes. In II Kings 6, the prophet Elisha was being hunted down by the powerful king of Aram for his previous influence with Israel’s king. The king of Aram sent a great army and surrounded the city of Dothan, where Elisha was staying. Elisha’s servant was in a panic the next morning when he awoke and saw the city surrounded with horses and chariots. “O my lord, what shall we do?” the servant gasped.

Elisha knew that the servant did not have a full understanding of the situation. So Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” The Lord did just that. Suddenly the servant was able to see, really see. Aside from the forces of Aram surrounding the city, another great army was there. The army of heavenly hosts waited on the surrounding hills with blazing chariots of fire ready to protect Elisha. Suddenly things didn’t look so bad! God protected Elisha and delivered the opposing king and his army into the hands of the Israelites.

I often wonder what is going on in the unseen world that coexists with the material world we see with our eyes. Paul warned the Ephesians: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.” (Ephesians 6: 12) We have a very limited understanding of circumstances, because there is a whole world of forces and action that we cannot see. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4: 18)

We can trust God with our circumstances. Nothing escapes His notice. There are forces at work beyond our imaginings. And we have His promise, that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-9)

What do you fear the most? I am surveying for a book chapter. Leave a comment and help me out!

3 comments:

Heather Nicole said...

so true. for your survey: my answer used to childbrith ;) but now, for some reason, I'm not as afraid. Now, I would say biggest fear: losing Sam.

Elizabeth said...

I think my biggest fear is the fear of failure. Not just any kind of failure, but the kind of failure you experience after you have done absolutely everything possible to the best of your ability. You've given it your everything, only to find that it was never good enough. That is currently the thought that scares me the most.

(the late) linda said...

Aaack! You'd think, with my record, I'd fear being late with my comments (or anything else), but nope, doesn't seem to bother me a bit.

Seriously, though, I'm afraid of needing medical care and finding (a) that my medical insurance won't cover it, or (b) that getting them to cover it will be so time-consuming and effortful that I just won't be able to get myself moving to do it. Just saw the bill for my not-very-big-deal monthly prescriptions: up by 40 percent this month.