It goes like this: Maybe a possible scenario pops in our mind, we are faced with a decision to make, or maybe our brains are reacting to a small occurrence in our day but either way, we allow the future to fearfully unravel in our minds.
In the future, all hell breaks loose. The bad thing that popped into our mind now unfolds in gruesome detail (and we definitely believe it is actually going to happen). All the fearful possibilities that surround the decisions we have to make are now unfurling in our brains as if they are the sole definers of our choices. That wayward look we got from our boss, that “non-like” we got on our Instagram feed or that small weird mark we found on our child are all now pointing us to ultimate demise.
Therefore, we retreat, we self-preserve, we do anything we can to put a band-aid on the fear and in one split second we become a slave to that thought.
Problem is, when we unravel this fear-filled imaginary future in our minds, we always fire God.
God is never there. Fear takes Him completely out of the equation and, without Him, we have no hope. When you get down to the nitty-gritty of it, all fear boils down to one thing: future telling.
The Bible tells us that future telling is not our job. It’s Gods. But we bit from that apple because we so badly wanted God’s knowingness. So we bite from the apple over and over and over again every time we think our fears know more than God does.
We fill in the gaps with all our limited knowledge. We trust our brains far more than we trust all the mysteries that God protects us from and in our fear, we determine that we know best. We turn to Google, WebMD, studies, and social media, and we become addicted to believing that our fear knows best.
God cannot be fooled, He is calling us out of our fear and calling it what it is: a lack of trust. “Pish posh,” we say! Our fear is not mistrust, it’s just reason! We like our fear, we are comfortable reacting to it, and we don’t want to travel down any road that brings us toward fearful thoughts.
In these things I think of Job. Poor Job. I mean from Job verse 1, you just feel for the guy. God allows everything to be taken, I mean everything. All the things we fear most wrapped up in one tragic life.
Job loss. Death of loved ones. Chronic sickness. Broken marriage. Betrayal from friends.
You name it, Job faced it. So, we watch Job, we learn from him because we wonder what it would be like if all our greatest fears came true. What does he say? What does he do? Most of all, what does God do and say?
Well, duh, Job curses the day he was born. Who wouldn’t? Job 3:3 says, “May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, ‘A boy is born!’ That day—may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine upon it.”
Job stirs and he aches and he pleads to God for mercy and answers. Why God? Why would you do this? Why let this happen?
When I sound like Job it sounds like this, “Why God? Why let the babies die? Why allow pregnancies to fail and infertility to remain? Why cancer? Why terrorism, hurricanes, tsunamis, beheadings and car accidents? Why lust? Why are doubt, insecurity and fears endless? Why? How can you possibly ask us not to fear?”
To all of these, God gently guides me to the conclusion of the book of Job and He prods me with this question: Who is better at my job? You or me?
In Job chapter 38 God finally speaks to Job. It says:
Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said: Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the Earth’s foundation?
No sympathy, no fear stroking or babying, God speaks out of the storm to remind us that at the end of all things and in the beginning of all things He alone is God. Our fears, our plights to become all that He is, foolishness. Who are we that darkens his counsel without knowledge?
We think we know, but we don’t. This coming from a mother who convinced herself that ending her pregnancy early was the way to avoid the most pain. Doctors told me my baby boy was going to die anyway, so why carry him? Fear told me to end it. God told me that His plans are not my plans, and I held my full-term baby boy in the most treasured 90 minutes of my life.
In those months of carrying Gideon, God convinced me to not fire Him anymore. The future is His and the only thing that He has given me to be mine to manage is today.
So today, when fears come what do we do?
Here are three quick tips that help me:
- Is your fear based on what could happen in the future or what you know to be true today? If it is a future-conjuring fear, name your truths of today instead.
- Hand over the reins back to God. If you are fearing job loss, judgment, sickness or pain make a list to God and then rip it up. Give it all over to Him.
- Remind yourself of ways God has been sovereign over your past. Remember God is painting a larger picture for your life, when today is muddling the grander view, look back to see all the ways that God has already proven faithful.
This article is an excerpt from Maria Furlough’s Breaking the Fear Cycle: How to Find Peace for Your Anxious Heart. Used with permission.