I've heard it said that there are 365 references in the bible that instructs us not to be afraid. Jesus encouraged his followers to "take courage" several times in the New Testament. Maybe it because God knows how many times we would have to face our fears here on this earth, especially if we've been through a traumatic loss or event.
When our daughter Nicole passed away in an accident, my worst fears as a mom were realized. After that, fear seemed to chase me down and haunt me. I knew the worst could happen, so what was to keep it happening again and again?
That is a hard question for us to live with every day, and chances are the worst won't happen. However, if it does, God promises to be with us all the way. I have a God who knows me and loves me. He promises He will never leave me, even in the most devastating circumstances.
In my last blog post, I wrote about how fear nearly robbed me of experiencing the beauty of Arches National Park. I was paralyzed with fear and struggled to move forward.
That is what fear can do to us; Steal from us. However, to deny that we are fearful would not be accurate or beneficial to us. The truth is that often times we are so scared that we struggle not to give into it. That's the thing - What are we going to do with our fear?
Joshua 1:9 says
"Have I not commanded you? BE strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged; for the Lord, your God will be with you wherever you go."
The word BE implies that we have a choice. We can choose to move forward despite our fear, not on our own power, but because God is with us. When we decide to move forward in faith, we are infused with His courage.
I know...that's easy for me to say but harder for us all to do. I am no expert in the handling of fear, but in reflecting on my hiking experience in Arches National Park, I've come up with some practical applications that might help us all when fear threatens to master us.
Trust. Remember that God promises to be with me always. Even in the darkest of days, He is my strength and will carry me through. On our scary hike, Larry told me he would be there for me. He is not God for sure, but I had to trust that he would help me navigate through my fear so that I could complete the hike. So much more, God promises that He will always be with me. Philippians 4:13 is a great reminder. It says, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." ALL THINGS.
Decide. Make a move to take a step into your fearful situation. When I sat down in the middle of the trail because I was paralyzed with fear, I was giving in to my anxiety. However, I had to decide to stand up and move forward. Deciding goes hand in hand with trust because my actions are the evidence of faith that God is with me. If I trust, I can move forward. If I am not moving forward, I am not trusting.
Keep my eyes on the Lord. When I chose to trust and move forward on the trail, I had to keep my eyes planted firmly on Larry's back, not on the steep inclines on either side of me. The devil wants us to focus on the possible scenarios of disasters that could be our ruin if we move forward. Just like Peter walking on water (Mathew 14), as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, he walked on water, but when his eyes were drawn to the waves, he sunk.
Remember. After we've pushed through a scary situation, we must remember what the Lord has brought us through. Then, our faith grows deeper, and the next challenge won't be so challenging.
In that same passage that tells the story of Peter walking on water, Jesus reminds the disciples that they had a choice to be brave when he said: "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." (Matthew 14:27). Take Courage. He is handing it to us; we just need to take it.