“The worst evils of life are those which do not exist except in our imagination. If we had no troubles but real troubles, we should not have a tenth part of our present sorrows. We feel a thousand deaths in fearing one, but the (the Christian) cured of the disease of fearing.” – Charles Spurgeon
If there is one blight upon my personal resume that I long to be erased it is this issue of fear. Even typing those words of transparency cause me to be anxious – what will readers think if they know I struggle with this? Who might take advantage of me if they become aware of this propensity? If this type of fear is sin, am I hazarding my fellowship with God by failing to conquer it? Fear is a persistent virus, contagious and corrosive.
Praying this morning through some of my weaknesses, I am again reminded that a consistent dose of trembling is necessary for me in my walk with Christ. We all know that the fear of God is a healthy thing, the beginning of wisdom so say the Scriptures. Yet the fear I’m referring to is an unease of heart and mind when things are beyond our control – you know the words – dread, foreboding, gnawing anxiety. It is the breathshortening awareness that we are not the ones calling the shots. It is an eye-opening acknowledgment that we are sometimes as powerless as a mouse in a room teeming with malnourished cats. God seems to be purifying His church in our nation as every crutch we ever once leaned upon is being removed in greater degrees. Will Christians still be singing “How Great Thou Art” as we potentially fall off the fiscal cliff with the rest of the Republic? Perhaps you are learning along with me that we have stood with great presumption in years past, calling it faith when it was little more than outward ease and inbred formulas of living for the Lord. There are two typical responses to fear that come naturally to humans: fight or flight. We either drive our flag into the ground and choose our weapons or, conversely, we turn tail and run to wider spaces wherein we hope to breathe more easily. For the Christian there is a third option and it is the one that I am learning to choose more and more frequently.
When I sense fear in my heart, I humble myself in stillness and wait for the One who has never feared to come to my aid. And He always does so in His time.
This response is neither fighting nor fleeing. It is waiting and yielding. We respond in becoming still while knowing it is God to whom we look. He alone can help. He alone has the plan. God Himself is the appointer of times and seasons and boundaries and doors which open and close. Do you have a very real, provoking enemy? Fear God, not the person who troubles you. Have Sickness and Lack set up a two-man tent in your front yard? Seek humbly the Ruler of the winds to undeniably relocate that tent and replace it with the citadel of grace and mercy (why fear the tent when you have the fortress available?) When your thoughts betray the goodness of God and lie to you daily that He cannot come through again, silence them with a song of praise – perhaps Great Is Thy Faithfulness – and see if those anxious thoughts don’t begin to dissolve. We hear of impending wars overseas, threats of terrorism awaiting the ringing of bells on Christmas Day, the eventual collapse of unreliable world economies, social woes and sinful trends abounding…certainly there is much to fear if we choose. Choose something better; choose to think upward and rejoice in the final chapter of the book of man’s history.
The final chapter doesn’t end with man and his futility. It ends with Jesus Christ, His glory and His redeemed. And in ending thus, it simply opens up to a whole new book which will endure for eternity. Fear is for those whose hope is rooted in time and finitude. We need not serve fear because we have a greater Master whose name is Hope. Your fears may never completely leave you in this life – mine have not thus far. But if we are to live with them, grant them only the most unworthy seat, starve them or feed them next to nothing, never groom them nor clothe them – no, show your fears the worst hospitality and treat them despicably. And most of all, forbid them to speak…they have no praise for your Lord to share with you.