Have you ever been so afraid that you had to remind yourself to breathe? I am certain most of us, at least once in our lives, have felt this kind of fear. It’s a consuming, distracting fear that causes us to lose sleep at night, develop stomach ulcers, and do absent-minded things like put the milk away in the pantry or take a shower and forget to wash our hair ( not that I’ve ever done those things! :) )
Living with this kind of fear for very long is not good for us emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Fear results in stress and worry. Stress and worry can lead to a variety of physical and emotional health problems. The more fear we allow in our lives, the less room there is for faith and trust that God will provide for and protect us and those we love.
We know these things, so the question is: how do we get rid of this fear once it takes hold of us?
I think we have two choices. We can let it dominate our thoughts and maintain it’s grip on our lives or we can choose to do things that diminish its power. In my experience, I’ve encountered two kinds of fear:
- fear about something I can change, and
- fear about something I can’t change.
Sometimes our fears are about things that we have some degree of control over such as a fear of heights, a fear of failure, or a fear of being alone. There are other circumstances that we have little, if any, control – the fear that comes with a cancer diagnosis, the fear we feel when a loved when is gravely ill, or the fear of knowing someone we love is in danger.
For both types of fear, the best solution I have found begins with surrounding the fear with prayer and scripture. It starts with admitting my fears to God and asking Him to help me overcome them. The next step is being prepared with a few key verses that I can repeat to myself whenever the fear starts to grow into something much too large. For me, these verses are:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-disciple. – 2 timothy 1:7
Trust in God; trust also in me. – John 14:1
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. – Isaiah 41:10
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27
Both types of fear also involve action. In order to overcome fear about something I can change, I must be willing to attempt to do whatever it is that scares me, otherwise the fear will stay with me indefinitely. In order to not be consumed by fear about something I can’t change, I must be willing to surrender my fear (worry) to God and trust that He is in control (because He is whether I am willing to admit it or not).
Easier said than done, right? :)
There is much in the world to make us afraid.
There is much more in our faith to make us unafraid.
Frederick W. Cropp
How do you handle fear?
Have a great day!