What You Fear
by Sheryl Idema
Uncertainty! There are not many things that can drive us to fear like uncertainty and our present reality feels like walking through life in a fog so thick we can see maybe six inches in front of us. Will I ever recover the 401K that was to be my retirement? Will the childhood fantasy of a princess in a white dress, “I do,” a dream come true, be reduced to five people before a judge? Will my son who was to try out for the Olympic swimming trials miss the one and only chance to fulfill his dream? Will my church ever be allowed to seat as many people as can fit in the doors, without masks, without wondering if the person sitting next to us could be lethal?
Often, when Christians face uncertainty, we grab our favorite phrase “God’s got this!” with an expectation that miraculously: “No more fear! Back to paying the bills!” Then our ears perk up when we hear: “Quarantine will go through June 30!” Then: “There is no way we will make it now!” Followed by: “What kind of a Christian am I? I’m not supposed to fear! My faith is so weak!”
Andrew Murray in his book The Spiritual Life says: “The man who fears lest he should sin against God and give way to the flesh is the man who gets to fear nothing because God is his strength.” Is he suggesting we are to fear? And at the same time be fearless? Scripture says: “Do not Fear!” and it says: “Blessed is the man that fears!” How can they both co-exist. It all depends on what you fear.
Historically my way to cope with uncertainty was to seize control or blame shift, intellectualize or rationalize my way out of uncertainty, or cram my fears in a vault. To admit fear existed, produced debilitating shame that would bring out the “I’m doing great” mask. God in his mercy, has helped me realize that when fear strikes, and I cope in certain ways (my flesh) I am operating apart from Christ. I am attempting to squelch my fear through my resources: intellect, blame-shifting, or picking myself up by my bootstraps and get moving.
Now when the prospect of not walking again coils itself to strike fear to the core, I’m reminded by the Spirit of life inside me that my resources, at best, will give me moments of peace. But when I deny the flesh, and embrace life in the Spirit, I can walk fearlessly no matter the circumstances, because God is my strength. Fear is a Mighty Goliath when fought with my flesh, but a meager pile of dust when fought with God’s strength.
My flesh will never conquer fear. It holds me captive, exhausts me, victimizes me, isolates me. But when I live from the Spirit, I can face any circumstance- fearless because God is my strength. When I am weak, (bringing nothing of mine to the battle against fear), then I am strong (standing fearless in God’s strength). What do you fear? Do you long for life in the Spirit? Do you desire to never fight fear with your arsenal of feeble weapons? If the answer is YES-Walk fearless through any circumstance because God is your strength.
How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!
He will bless those who fear the Lord,
The small together with the great.
He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
2 Corinthians 12:9