"Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7. "There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear." 1 John 4:18. "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. "Only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Franklin D. Roosevelt
Have you ever just had an eerie feeling that comes over you? You can't explain it, you just know or rather feel that it is a sign that something not good is going to happen. (Of course, I am not talking about you being on some dark, lonely street. You certainly would have an eerie feeling). What I am speaking of is not rooted in reality, but in your mind it is real. It does have a name, it's called irrational fear; the kind of fear that is manufactured in your mind without any supporting reason or evidence for that fear. There is also something called rational fear; which, of course means there are valid reasons to fear. Let's zoom in a little.
We have all experienced irrational fears from time to time. Irrational fear is having anxiety about something even though there is no direct threat to us; like the fear of the dark, bugs, dogs, clowns, doctors, elevators, flying, etc. But, you manage to deal with these things. For example, you might leave the light on all night; if bugs should come too close, a swatter used accurately takes care of it, and you force yourself (or someone else convinces you) to go to the doctor. However, these fears can rise to the level of interfering with your normal activities. They are still irrational, but should they hinder your daily movement you would be wise to seek professional help.
Rational fears are those that present an obvious and present threat; where we have to protect ourselves; not unrealistic or exaggerated due to emotion or otherwise. These are fears that are normal and even helpful (triggers flight or fight responses) when in dangerous situations. It is normal to feel some anxiety when flying through a storm or when you see a dog charging toward you that is not known to you, neither the owner. Most times with such fear, immediate action is taken.
Both these types of fear have something in common: They can consume your life.
It is amazing the things we worry about and that we allow to block the path to our progress, and more distressing that we dig in even deeper when we are told to stop worrying about things we cannot control or even things we can control. We must find a way to put fear and anxiety in its place. It is not as simple as reciting: "If you are going to pray, why worry?" "If you are going to worry, why pray?" Oh were it that simplistic, we would not need the anxiety medications that pharmaceutical companies are constantly peddling; rather successfully, I might add. Realistically speaking; Will worrying change things for the better? (I think for the worse). "Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" Matthew 6:27. No. Then why do it?
To categorize fears, it would look something like this: (For the sake of brevity, I have selected four headings). Fear of the unknown, Fear of the known, Fear of failure, Fear of success. Sounds a little crazy right? But, it's real. I'll list a few things, and then you can decide which category you think they go under. On second thought, I will put them where I think they belong. You can agree or disagree. You can write "what if" and fill in the blank. I am sure you can think of a few things to add to the list.
Fear of the Unknown
What if I get sick? What does my dream mean? What if a loved one gets sick or worse? What does this eerie feeling mean? What if I get mugged? What if I lose my job? What if I fail the test? What if the pilot falls asleep at the controls?
Fear of the Known
What if my illness prevents me from working or debilitates me? What if my investments continue to lose value? What if my rent continues to increase and my salary does not?
Fear of Success
What if I hit the Mega millions? What if I get that big promotion? Will my life or that of my family be in danger if I become popular or wealthy? What if my investments quadruple in value?
Fear of Failure
What if people hate me? What if my company downsizes just to get rid of me? What if the stock market crashes, negatively impacting pensions and long term investments? What if I get fired?
I know, we might respond "get over it." Sometimes fears are complicated and bear further scrutiny before we respond. However, it is how we address fears that make all the difference. Do you face fear head on? Or, do you cower?
Below are two case studies that show different approaches to dealing with fear. Perhaps you can draw some advice from these examples.
"Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets (of Baal; a false god) with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like one of them." "Elijah was afraid and ran for his life." 1 Kings 19:1-2.
David said to Saul, "Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine (Goliath); your servant will go out and fight him." Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth." "The Lord rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear and He will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine." I Samuel 17:32-37. Goliath had absolutely no fear of David. He scoffed when he saw him. He said to David, "Am I a dog that you come after me with sticks? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. "Come here," he said. "And I'll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!" 1Samuel 17:43-44.
Yes, both the prophet Elijah and the young shepherd David faced real threats. God had given both victories in prior conquests. So, why did Elijah run in fear? And, why did David stand tall and face the threat without fear? To put it succinctly, Elijah had a temporary lapse in his faith, while David was emboldened by his faith. David remembered the one who loved him and had brought him through in the past. Perfect love casts out fear.
On a smaller scale, when I take my grandchild's hand to walk him across the street, he skips knowing that he can trust me to walk him across safely. Now that's love both ways. "May you know this love that surpasses knowledge." Ephesians 3:19.
Can we access this love and peace that eliminate fear? How?:
1. One day at a time is all we can manage. By managing our lives without fear on a daily basis, we allow our tomorrows to naturally unfold. We ask for trouble when we bring tomorrow's concerns into the present day. Doubling our worry load does not increase our chances for resolution. (More than likely it increases the odds to become seriously ill over it). "Do not worry about tomorrow; sufficient are the worries for today." Matthew 6:34. If we are honest, we have our hands full dealing with today. Nothing can be changed by worrying. In the interim, our daily living is dysfunctional and overwhelming. So much valuable time is being wasted. Rather, we are to learn to trust God to provide as He has taught us. "Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11.
2. Count your blessings! When we look back over our life, many will note that we are the recipients of many good things; things that we did not earn or deserve. Who do you think is responsible for those things? I am going to let you answer that. Think about the little victories and the big victories in your life; like waking up this morning in your right mind, being able to feed and clothe yourself. The fact that you have a job, food to eat and a place to live means that you have much for which to be grateful. Give thanks to the source of those blessings. If we can just go a tad deeper; has there ever been a time when you found yourself in a bind and you had no one to turn to so you decided to give God a try? And then,"miraculously, you were successful in getting out of the bind." I can attest to this in my life. And, then when I got in another bind, I just about worried myself silly about how I was going to get out of it. What happened? I, like Elijah, forgot the one who loved me with an everlasting love and who was just waiting for me to trust Him again. What about you? Retrieve that trust. "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23.
3. Stop wasting your braincells on worry! Believe me, they are wasting fast enough on their own! Seriously though, it is insane to think that anything can be accomplished by worrying. Remember, the definition of insanity is when you do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. I have heard people say, "worry is what I do." It would be rude of me to tell them that they are insane. But, I do tell them that their time could be better spent. Real talk; do you embrace fear as a way of life? Believe it or not, you are not alone, but that does not make it any less futile. Yes, some scary things can and will happen; worry will not prevent it. Rather, you must face them head on instead of retreating to a state of paralysis. You are not helpless. If you fear that you will get sick, go to a doctor and see how you can live healthier and/or take medication to minimize or prevent debilitating illness. If you fear that you will not have enough money to live on later in life, start saving now and spend according to a budget. Eliminate unnecessary worry; do something about it, take appropriate action.
4. Quiet your mind long enough to distinguish between what is under your control and what is not. Last year my family and I went on a wonderful cruise. The skies were sunny and the ship sailed along smoothly for about three days. And then on the evening of the third day, a terrible storm hit. The strong winds blew and the waves thrashed violently against the ship. The waves were so high that we could see them out of the port windows as we ate, and some people stumbled when they walked due to the rocking of the boat. I must admit it was a little disconcerting, but not enough for us to stop enjoying our meal. After the meal, we decided to return to the cabin and call it a night. As I prepared for bed, I looked through the glass door of the balcony and I could see the massive ocean and the great waves; and I stopped and looked up and said, "how great Thou art." A peace came over me that I could not explain. "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10. I got in my bed and the ship's movement in the storm rocked me to sleep. In hindsight, I acknowledged that the storm was out of my control, but in the hands of the One who controls the wind and the waves; that He loves me with a perfect love, and therefore there was no cause for fear. "Then He arose and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm." Mark 4:39.
Remember, we were not made to handle everything in our own strength. When it comes to fear, we are told clearly what to do. Let's just do it, and be at peace. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6. "Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance." Jude 2:2.
Here's to living life in peace!
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P. S. - Thank you for your tremendous love and support as evidenced by your presence at my recent book signing. Because of your strong presence at my book signing, it was a major success. I am sending my heartfelt appreciation to you for your participation in this special event in my life. May God richly bless you. If you were not able to make it, I thank you for thinking about me. You can still show your support. "Rescue Me" is available online and in stores: Amazon, Barnes and Noble and on Apple iTunes. I remain truly appreciative. (Tell a friend).