It grips you with a mere thought of what could be. Its goal is to bring you into utter submission to its power until you are at its mercy. It feels like a tightly bound rope—freezing, paralyzing, tormenting its every victim–not willing to yield even an inch. It preys on the vulnerable areas of our lives; you know, the parts that we haven’t yielded completely over to God, and little by little conquers our frailties, mastering our every weakness. When it succeeds in one area, it moves on inch by inch, trying to cover as much ground as possible when, in reality, the extent of its power is limited to what we are willing to succumb to. This is how fear takes hold of our thought life.
Although fear is generally an unwelcome guest, there is a healthy fear that keeps us—at least most of us—from passing certain boundaries in life. Why? Because they involve consequences that just aren’t worth risking. When I drive down the road, that yellow strip of paint that runs down the center keeps me from hogging both lanes. The fear of being hit by oncoming traffic is a good fear that keeps me safely on my side of the road. In this case, fear is somewhat of a road block (no pun intended) that keeps me from possible danger. More often, however, it prevents any action, good or bad.
Fear is an unwelcome visitor that attempts to paralyze its victim at his or her most vulnerable moments. It often attacks our minds with a bunch of “what if” scenarios. What if I fail? What if I never get married? What if I don’t pass this test? What if something bad happens to me? What if, what if, what if?! We could list a million “what if” scenarios that have run through our minds in just the past day, and if we dwell on them long enough, we may actually believe they are destined to happen.
Fear is definitely a deception. It doesn’t have any real power behind it other than the feeling it triggers inside. It causes us to believe something that generally is not true and never will be. It ruffles our feathers and stirs the pot with only a thought. The more we dwell on the “what if,” the stronger fear’s grip on us becomes until we yield under the power of it and become its slave. What may be a fleeting thought to begin with can easily become an enormous dilemma when we allow fear to toy with our thoughts.
Dealing With Fear
Despite my struggle to keep the unhealthy fear at bay, I often fail miserably. I wish I could just make my fears magically disappear and never deal with them again. But that would be too easy, and I wouldn’t learn anything about trusting God along the way. When I was a child, I had a small wooden plaque that hung on my bedroom wall which read, “At times that I’m afraid, I will trust in God.” At night, while lying alone in the quiet darkness of my bedroom, when fear often gripped me, I found great comfort in that short phrase.
In Isaiah we read, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (26:3, KJV). After being reminded of this passage, I know that it’s God’s will for me to be at peace in my mind, and anything less would be disastrous! Now if I could only learn to keep my mind focused and my heart trusting in Him, I know the “what ifs” behind my fears will not seem so big after all.