I am a fearful person. I fear what people think of me and how they'll respond to me. I fear for the safety and welfare of my children. I fear that I'll say or do (or write) something that will hinder someone else in their faith. The list goes on and on.
But Scripture tells me there is only one thing I should fear, and that is God. A reverent fear. In a strange way, a deeply comforting fear.
Scripture, on the other hand, tells me NOT to fear men, or what they may do to me. Not to fear for tomorrow, what I will eat or wear. Not to fear for my safety - my life is God's anyway, right?
"The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." - Philippians 4:5b-6
Do not be anxious about anything.
But still, I am afraid.
One of the lovely side-effects of being 50-ish is that I rarely sleep through the night. I usually wake up around 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, still tired but unable to sleep. I have found this to be an awesome time to pray - the house is quiet, and I'm not distracted by the chores that need attending. Basically, I just lie in the bed and pray, pray, pray, until, eventually, sleep returns.
Last night I woke up with such a heavy weight of anxiety on my heart! My kids are scattered to the four corners of the world. Yes, I fear for their safety. I am concerned for the choices they make. Mostly, I am anxious because I want so desperately to be certain that their hearts belong to God. And so, I prayed about these things.
But still, I was haunted with a nagging uneasiness.
I know that God is sovereign. That He is good. That He loves me, very, very much. I KNOW these things. Where then does this disquiet come from?
I think Satan sometimes haunts us, shadows us with an Eeyore cloud of gloom, so that we are unable to rest in and enjoy the peace and assurance that are ours in Christ. Satan cannot make Christ's work or God's sure promises ineffective; instead, he clouds our vision so that we don't feel like God's promises are true, we don't feel like God's Spirit is close at hand to comfort and guide us. What do we do then, when we are troubled by lying feelings?
I read once a piece of advice a father gave to his son. This man told his son never to start a fight. . . but to always finish every fight he was in. Don't start fights. But, if someone else starts one, and you find yourself in the middle of it, make sure that the fellow who starts it walks away limping, that he has reason to think twice about picking another fight. He told his son, it's okay to lose a fight - just make sure the other guy never wins.
This has become my strategy for dealing with these anxieties that sometimes pile in on me in the middle of the night. Yes, I may be discomfited, but Satan is not going to walk away with a win.
So, I pray...for the health and safety of my children. For my husband's job. For the ministry I am a part of at Grace. For the friend living in bondage to sin. For whatever troubles my mind. And if, after praying, I still don't have peace...
I sing. Not out loud (at least not at 2:00 in the morning!), but silently. Words of classic, soul-edifying hymns. Whate'er my God ordains is right: his holy will abideth; I will be still whate'er he doth, and follow where he guideth. Words of praise choruses. Oh, Lord, you're beautiful! Your face is all I seek! The Doxology. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Praise Him all creatures here below.
Amazing how this exercise quiets and calms my anxious soul.
If sin and the devil want to "pick a fight," if they want to play on my fears, then I will hang in and finish the fight. I may not win - my fears may be back to haunt me another day - but I will go down swinging. I intend to leave my adversary with a bloody nose and a blacked eye.
Am I a fearful woman? Yes. What will I do when Satan punches my fear buttons? I'm not even going to give him the time of day. No, I'm going to praise the God who made and keeps me.
3 months ago