Controlling Fear

A few friends with whom I get together every other week ask each other regularly for a “feelings check in”. Understandably, this sounds a little out there, a little emotional and touchy feely. But, we are learning is that the more aware we become about what we are feeling, the more aware we become about what is happening below the surface in our hearts and minds and ultimately, the more aware we become of what God is doing in our hearts. So, the point isn’t just self-awareness but Gospel awareness. I claim that He is living and active but am all too content to remain oblivious to His activity.

So, as a result of one of these feelings check-ins last night, I went from thinking I felt numb, to realizing I felt overwhelmed, to acknowledging that I am scared. Just to simply say it plainly, “I am scared”, is sort of startling to my own system. I don’t think of myself as a fearful person and I don’t rationally think I am in danger. But nonetheless, God needed to show me the truth of what is happening in my heart and how He is committed to growing my faith and trust in Him through it.

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. Is. 41:10

Seeing my fear helps me also to see that I have stopped believing that God is with me always. I subtly come to believe that He is far off, monitoring me from a distance but essentially leaving me alone to survive by own wit and will. This is not what He affirms anywhere in Scripture, yet has somehow become reliable to my wandering heart.

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” 1 Peter 3:14 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, he is the one you are to dread, Is. 8:12-13

So in my fear, I have become mentally preoccupied with solutions, remedies and plans to avoid the things I fear or to attempt to prevent them. I have forgotten that it is God alone who is my hiding place and very present help in times of trouble. I have forgotten that He has promised never to leave me nor forsake me. I have forgotten that He doesn’t allow trouble to shame or punish because all the shame and punishment has already been claimed by Jesus in my place. ALL things working together for good is not just some trite saying of ignorant church goers, even if it does get used that way sometimes, but is the very good news of a very good God who is in control of all things even when I am not.

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” Is. 30:15

The person and work of Jesus reminds me that I don’t have to be in control of all my circumstances and all of my potential suffering in order to eliminate fear. He doesn’t ask me simply to turn away from my fearful and controlling ways, but He invites me to turn to Him as the lover of my soul and the very shelter of my being. While my stubborn heart is inclined to “have none of it”, I am so grateful that He will quiet my heart, give rest to my soul and strengthen me through repentance and trust. Hallelujah what a Savior.

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