I have been wrestling with a particular emotion lately. I am by nature an optimist and a fix-it person. I like seeing the positive in situations and look for new ideas or opportunities around the next corner. My life is interesting and fulfilling at many levels, for which I am thankful. But an unfamiliar guest has entered the arena lately and I have found myself struggling to deal with it. The emotion of fear has been stirred up and is unwilling to be quieted down.
It all started with a root canal. I was doing fine until the dentist told me I needed both dental work and endodontic outpatient surgery on a problem area in my gum. I strongly dislike dental work. I would rather have a C-section, and I can authoritatively say that as I have had three. The dreaded anticipation of not one, but two procedures within four days was the initial derailment of my emotions. It felt silly to be fearful of something so simple, leading to disappointment with myself heaped on top of my fear.
The derailment of my emotions continued when the next few days revealed the news of the escape of three girls held captive for a decade in a Cleveland home just blocks away from family and friends. Something so tragic so close to home brings out the “could it happen here?” question that every parent faces at such times. The following week I headed to a writer’s conference with the goal to learn more about developing further writing skills. As much as I want to attend the conference, the unknown situation of new and intimidating experiences brought thoughts of fear to my mind. And then today, even as I work in my hotel room at the conference, I am painfully aware of the unfolding tragedy in Oklahoma as families fearfully await news of the missing children in an elementary school flattened by a tornado. There seems to be so many reasons to be afraid these days. It becomes difficult to want to know what is going on in our world. We have a fear of fear. We just want fear to go away. But it does not.
So what are we to do with our fear? Do we shove it down into the corners of our soul, telling it to be quiet and go away? Do we feel guilty for our fear, seeing it as a sign that we are not trusting God? Do we feed our fear, allowing ourselves to lock the doors and windows of our homes and our hearts, not letting anything or anyone in so that we can be assured of safety? I must confess that while I don’t believe any of the above suggestions are good solutions, I am not sure what the best solution is.
But here is what I do know. I do know that, “Even though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me” (Ps. 23:4); “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Ps. 34:4); and “…this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.’” (Isa. 43:1-3) These Scriptures do not paint a pretty picture of life, nor do these verses condemn the emotion of fear. What these verses do communicate loud and clear is that fear is dispelled in direct connection to my relationship with God. God being with me. God hearing me. God creating me, forming me, redeeming me, calling me His own. When I am so acutely aware of God’s ever – present loving involvement in my life that I see, feel and hear Him instead of my fear, then fear will lose its grip and I will find peace.
So even though I do not have an easy solution for eliminating fear, I believe that I can at least put fear in its place by immersing myself in God and my relationship with Him. I can be free from the fear of fear. I can enjoy the peace that passes all understanding in Christ Jesus. Amen!