Facing Our Fears
We all face fear. At times, fear motivates us. At times, fear paralyzes us.
Our fear can come from almost anything at any time. In some cases, the fear may be of disappointing parents who have set high standards and expectations on us. We are motivated to meet and exceed those expectations, and we are afraid we will let those parents down.
Another type of fear arises when you face a wild animal in the midst of nature. You meet a lion or maybe a skunk face to face. Boy! I tell you what . . . that will get some fear going in you! Because you know what the result of our encounter will be. Like hearing the buzz from a hive of killer bees that have been disturbed, and they are coming after you. That is fear getting into your heart, and you can feel it. You get this adrenalin taste in your mouth, your palms sweat, and your heart beats faster and faster.
This is what psychologists call “Fight or Flight Response”. Your body is pumping up the adrenalin so you can take one of two responses for meeting what is coming at you. You either fight it or flee from it. And sometimes fleeing is what we do. Some situations paralyze us with fear that prevents us from facing certain things other times we get up and try again.
We have to try and overcome fear. If you don’t, in your mind, the fear will get bigger and bigger, becoming so big that you can’t overcome it. I have seen people who were in a relationship, and when it broke up, they were so hurt, so damaged, that they were afraid to get involved in another one. Why is that, it’s because, in their mind, they know what is going to happen, and they know it will not be good.
Fear takes over and controls their life. I’ve seen people who have worked at the same job all of their life, and they absolutely hate their work. They are miserable. You can see the pain in their face. They are stressed-out. Their eyes look tired. There are lines on their faces. They can’t eat. They can’t sleep. They are so afraid to take a chance and make a change that they let it damage their life forever. Fear takes over and controls them.
It seems to me that the best way to figure out how to deal with fearful things is to look in the Bible. After all, the Bible is full of people who faced fear every day, and remember in those days just staying alive was a struggle, the early Christians knew that at any moment they could be put to death for their beliefs and yet the continued doing what they were called to do.
When you are afraid to take that next step, when your fear has you paralyzed; pray. Because when you pray, you are going to get the strength to handle that fear you face. That fear that you can taste. That fear when your eyes get glassy. You know you can’t face this. But when you turn that fear into prayer, you are going to find you can do it! Pray with a thankful heart and pray with all of your heart.
We are told in the book of Philippians 4:6, 7
“Be anxious for nothing. But in everything by prayer and supplications with thanksgiving let your request be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Christ Jesus.”
Be anxious for nothing. Make your request known to God. This is home for me.
I once attended an Extreme Bull Riding competition, and a young bull rider, Jarred Ford, was on the short-go. He came out of the chute and had a good strong ride, but, toward the end, he began to slip. But he didn’t leave his ride. His spur caught in the rigging. You could hear the fear in the crowd as the bull spun around with Jarrod not able to get off. The bull tossed him around like a rag doll. No doubt about it, he was in danger of severe injury or worse.
As the rope released Jarrod’s spur, you could feel the silence in the arena. The bull actually turned around and ran back over the top of him. Again, you felt the fearful silence in the arena. Everybody just knew the next thing would be the ambulance coming to pick him up off the ground. Instead, you saw Jarrod stand up and immediately go down on one knee, thanking God before walking out under his own power.
Jarrod is a strong Christian cowboy, and I later had the chance to meet him and so I asked him what was going through his mind while it was happening. He said that the funniest thing, the strangest thing, was in that moment, he just decided to pray. He put it into God’s hands.
“As I look back on it,” he said, “what better time is there to pray? And I couldn’t believe I was so calm; praying to God to take care of me; to help me out.”
I felt the power within his faith. This cowboy, in that moment when things were going so wrong, conquered fear and had the presence of mind to pray. He wasn’t afraid. He prayed. He knew that God would get him through it. He knew that God would take care of him. He knew that God would be with him and help him through it. And that’s what we are told in the book of Philippians.
“Peace of God surpasses all understanding and will guard your hearts and minds.”
We can also do that because no matter how dreadful our situation is, God can help us learn from it. God is going to be there for us. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us:
“Be strong and of good courage. Do not fear nor be afraid of them. For the Lord our God goes with you. He is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
He will not leave you nor forsake you. We have had that promise throughout the history of time when God has spoken to man. He will be there for us. Do not be afraid. We have heard it in the Psalms.
“Though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil. I fear nothing because God walks with me.”
Over and again, you will see this promise. No matter what you are facing. No matter what you fear, God will reach in and He will help you. He will protect you. He will guide you. Fear in and of itself does not have to cripple us. It can teach us courage. It can teach us how to face things through God. It can teach us how to answer the problems that we face.
I know a lot of young people now in this world who seem to be lost. They don’t know where to get the answers. They don’t know where to turn, so they turn to drugs. Or they turn to alcohol. People turn to this and they turn to that until, one day they find themselves turning into a dead end street. They are afraid of the world. They are afraid to face reality. They lack the skills to overcome their fears. This fear can become so overpowering that they lose their will to live. When that happens, they often turn it over to drugs, to violence, to a lifestyle guaranteed to give them nothing but destruction. We all know people who have been there. We all know people that have done that. And we know what can happen to them. We also know how good things can be for them when they turn their life around.
We learn in Deuteronomy 31:7 that Moses called Joshua and said to him, “In the sight of all Israel, for you must go with his people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them. And you shall cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear nor be dismayed. He will be with you.”
This is a perfect example of people overcoming their fear with the help of God. Another example is the apostles . . . the disciples. Ten of the eleven met death at the hands of non-believers; but the courage of God was with them, and they continued to preach the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Even though they knew what was going to happen to them. Even though there was no doubt, God gave them the courage to face that fear when the time came.
God is going to give you the courage to face whatever it is you need to face when you need to face it.
You cannot let fear guide you. You cannot let fear drive you. You cannot let fear be your sole motivator. You need to let the love of God come into your heart. Let God motivate you. Let God guide you. Then you will find that you can handle your fears. You will find that all your little fears are just . . . little fears. They are little things that you can overcome. If you don’t know how, call out. Reach out. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t have all the answers.” Don’t be afraid to say, “I am down. I need someone.”
Don’t be afraid to turn to others. Be afraid not to because that could put you in a hole that is almost impossible to leave. When somebody offers you a hand up, don’t be afraid to take it. Don’t be afraid to be polite. Don’t be afraid to be nice. Don’t be afraid to be a Christian. Don’t be afraid to live your life the way God wants you to live it. In following this enlightened path, you are going to find your life better. You are going to find your life fulfilling, meaningful, and power-filled. You will live your life as it is supposed to be lived. You will find that you are able to handle relationships.
If you are in the middle of a breakup or in the middle of a divorce with children, don’t be afraid of the future. Take care of those kids. You have to be there for those kids. Do not let your petty jealousies, your petty anger, and petty bitterness get in the way of living and doing right. I have seen cases where people are afraid to talk to each other because they are so angry. The innocent suffer. We cannot let that happen. It needs to stop. It happens too often in our society. It is too easy to let ‘flight’ take over. We don’t fight it anymore. We walk away. We are afraid to face our issues. We must face our issues.
We are not perfect . . . we are just forgiven. If you are not afraid to face your past, and you are not afraid to face your future, if you are not afraid to walk with God, you will be able to live with that past, deal with that future, and face the reality of today. Let the fears in the back of your mind go, turning them over to the power of God. Let Him guide your life. Let Him erase your fears.