Fear


I struggle with fear.  I get overwhelmed unexpectedly.  I think it is just the way my brain works.  I can be calm, calm, calm, calm and then suddenly not so much.  The 'not so much' is particularly strong at 3am in the morning when I feel like the sky is going to fall in on me.  Thankfully I awake again at 6am and it isn't all so grim.

The Bible says a lot about fear.  God seems to kinda "get" that part of being human is getting scared.  There's a lot in there reassuring us to "Fear not".  And why are we encouraged to be less fearful?  Because God is with us.

I don't think the Bible is dismissive of our fears.  It's not saying 'oh don't have fears' because fear is pretty instinctive.  When I'm standing at the edge of a cliff, fear is a right response.  Fear actually protects me at that point.

But fear can come from other places too.  How about FOMO?  Fear of not getting what I want out of life.  Fear of my children not turning out like I had hoped.  Fear of not keeping up with my peers financially.  Fear of not being sure if I can cope with what I'm having to give up.  Fear of failing when I'm usually pretty successful.  Fear of losing control.

In Matthew 14:25-31 we read the (kind of bizarre) story of when Jesus walks on water.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.  'It’s a ghost they said and cried out in fear.'  

But Jesus immediately said to them ‘Take courage, it is I.  Do not be afraid’.  

‘Lord if it’s you, Peter replied, tell me to come to you on the water’ ‘Come’ he said.  

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink, cried out ‘Lord save me!’  

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, ‘you of little faith’ he said ‘why did you doubt?’

I'm interested in Peter in this story.  I can see how Peter so truly wants to trust Jesus.  Jesus has already shown Peter and the other disciples his power.  Power over nature and death and sickness and food and powerful people.  In his head Peter knows what Jesus is capable of.  So he walks out of the boat believing that Jesus can get him there.

But then "he saw the wind" and got scared.  And sinks.  Jesus ask Peter why he didn't have more faith.  Not that Peter should have tried harder, but why didn't he believe that Jesus could help him get there?

When the winds and waves of life overwhelm us (and those around us) we have to look to Jesus.  Why do we often take our eyes off Jesus?  Well, every other message in this world tells us that only we are the masters of our destiny.  That only we have control over our futures.  Later on in the gospel story Jesus asks Peter why he follows him and Peter responds, "Where else do we have to go?".  It is only Jesus who has the words of eternal life, it is only Jesus who has the power to give us a future beyond this life.  And it is only Jesus who has power to take away our fear.  

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More on my journey with fear here

Comments

Deb L said…
Great to read something from you on your blog again.
Anonymous said…
I read this in the early hours of this morning when unable to sleep because of anxiety, so it was really timely to come across it on FB!
Today I had a first appointment with a psychologist for yet another of my children whom is suspect is on the Autism spectrum as well as having other mild abnormalities, so really encouraging to read these thoughts.
I think that just as fear is helpful when we’re near a cliff, it’s needed in daily life too. It helps us be alert to issues before they become real real problems. As mothers with children at home, we’re constantly making decisions that affect our children’s lives. I think fear helps us evaluate these - to always think that everything is ok might be kidding ourselves too often. We’re not always going to make the right decisions, fear helps us prepare ourselves for taking new directions.
I wonder too if fear prevents us from feeling too at home in the world. I’m aware that my children’s problems won’t go away and I can anticipate some of the difficulties they’re likely to experience throughout life. But hopefully these make it easier for them to long for the life that Jesus has prepared for them once this world has passed away.
Thankful for what we never have to fear with God beside us, loving us, listening to our thoughts and having a plan for our lives.
Jenny said…
Thanks anonymous for sharing and I'm really encouraged that you found the post at the right time for you.

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