Our generation is marked by fear and anxiety, taking pills to manage something we think is a new epidemic. Right now, maybe more than ever, anyone with anything to sell knows the currency value of fear. Write the name of a concern on a price tag, slap it on and people will flock to pay dearly for that product.
Before I go any further, let me pause. This is not a post down on pills. There have been times that I have needed medicine to help breath deeply enough to function, and while long term those have not worked for me, and while long term I FEAR what impact they might have on a person (yes, I just said I’m fearful of that, I get it) I do not begrudge people looking for medicine to receive help for the very real causes and effects of anxiety. Unpause.
Over and over God tells us “Do not be afraid” more than probably anything else in the Bible. Fear has plagued humanity since the beginning of time and from the first moment fear reared up, hiding in the Garden of Eden crouched half naked behind a bush, God was concerned for our fear and looked to relieve us of it.
When I was 17, I was a scared broken girl trying to make sense of my world.In those days the panic would sneak around the corner and stick it’s leg out, causing me to crash to the floor, knocking the wind out of me. It was in one of those moments, post-fall, that I first experienced peace that passes all understanding, and knew, God is real, and if this peace was what He could give me, I wanted all of it.
When I was 18, I was still scared, still broken, and still trying to make sense of my world. Fear had walked around the corner by then, no longer needing to hide and jump out at me, but rather setting up as a roommate. One night through conversation with a friend and a mentor, I realized that God wasn’t doing this to me, that He saw my pain and He longed to pick me up, rock me and comfort me. Oh the sweet realization of God as Abba.
And for 16 years, I evicted fear. Sure there’d be moments of worry, moments of concern, moments of cares, but all in all it was manageable. God had seen me drowning in this internal struggle and had pulled me up.
In the fall of 2015 I was in an incredibly difficult situation, a truly unhealthy work environment. I walked around the corner and bam, tripped right over Panic’s outstretched leg. I found myself back in the clutches of fear and those attacks this time felt double shameful. Did I no longer trust God? Was I failing at my faith?
This time the water washing over me was not an internal ocean, but an external one. I often look back at that time now and think of an animal who licks it’s fur off because off stress. I needed medicine to help me for a time, but it was plain to me reading the doctor’s face that the best rx for me would be a change in circumstances. God got me out of that situation, and I can’t tell that story in one sentence, one paragraph or even one blog post, but it was absolutely the hand of God rescuing me. The next time I went to my doctor, having quit the medicine, to tell her I had absolutely no need of it, her jaw dropped in amazement.
It has been well over a year now since that overwhelming fear has been a part of my life. Certainly there has been worry and concern and care, but never outright panic. Friends, whether it is internal or external, God wants you to hear this, “Do not be afraid.” He has the peace and the power to overcome the terror that is out there and He is so ready to hand them both to you.
I had the blessing of a conversation with a dear friend this week that reminded me of all that God has done for me in the area of fear over the past 20 years. It had been a bit of time since I’d revisited the story in the context in which it was discussed and it served me so well to remember that first time I experienced His peace, peace that passes all understanding.
That is my prayer this morning for my friends, for my church and for my country. Peace that passes all understanding and power to overcome.
Do not fear.