II Timothy 1:7: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (NIV).
Let’s be honest. Living in fear really isn’t living. Being afraid can keep you from trying new things, taking chances, or making fun memories. If you’re one that becomes paralyzed with fear, it can seriously harm your health. High blood pressure, heart disease, as well as other chronic health problems are a direct result sometimes of living a life in fight or flight mode. Your body wasn’t designed to live in such a high-stress environment all the time. It needs more periods of rest and relaxation than times of high-anxiety or stress. And the ironic thing is…most things we fear never come true! So, that’s a lot of time spent worrying about something that didn’t exist in the first place.
I struggle with fear. Being a parent who has a tendency toward fear presents a challenge as I try to teach my children courage. I definitely have had to work on this area in my life so that my kids don’t follow the same footsteps I’ve walked. It’s difficult at times to tell my kids to trust God when our family knows from personal experience that trusting in God doesn’t automatically result in what we fear never coming true. The truth is…pain does exist, what we fear does sometimes occur, and bad things happen to everyone equally. But, just because something could happen doesn’t mean my focus should stay on the fear or the what if. No, there are many reasons that God tells me in His Word to trust Him.
I am privileged to have many examples of how to live a life not ruled by fear. One friend in particular asked for prayer for her father who was set to undergo tests the following week to determine whether or not he had cancer. I agreed to pray with her and waited to hear the results. The following week she emailed me to let me know that what they saw originally wasn’t a malignant tumor or life threatening. Her example of giving God the results of the test ahead of time and then going about living her weekend, resting in his peace, were great. If she had spent the entire time from the initial call until the test results came back worrying, she would have wasted more than a week of her life. Instead, she continued to do what God called her to do and chose not to worry.
Made me stop and think…how much time do I waste in worry? Monday morning the local weatherman mentioned a possible blizzard on Thursday, only to find out Thursday we don’t even get a dusting of snow. A phone call from the doctor to discuss test results…three weeks later turns out to be, “You’re fine, come back next year.” How are we going to pay the unexpected bill is resolved with a long-forgotten rebate check received the same week.
As I look back over the past year, I definitely have improved in this area of my life. I worry less, give God my fears more quickly, and don’t take them back as often as I did, but I’m still a work in progress. Since I’m better at initially giving God my fears, now my focus will be to leave those worries in His powerful hands while I go about doing His will for my life. I’m going to choose to forget about what troubled me until either it’s come true and I need wisdom to deal with it (turning to God for that answer as well) or, more likely, the threat passes without even a hint of disaster. I can’t promise it’s going to be easy for me or I’ll get it right all the time. It is January and there will be the threat of more than one blizzard, but at least I’ll get plenty of practice.