Fear, worry, and doubt… Such familiar feelings, thoughts, and often talked about topics. Yet we all still struggle with them. It’s just not enough for someone to tell us not to worry; maybe it’s because once the endless thought train starts moving, the momentum is so hard to stop.
Throughout elementary school and part of middle school, I struggled with panic attacks and felt I couldn’t ever escape my worry and fear. If you’ve ever had a panic attack, my heart truly goes out to you because it was an awfully scary, lonely feeling that simply made me want to escape everything. They became so frequent that I thought I’d be struggling with this constant battle for the rest of my life. No, my mom didn’t take me to the doctor to be put on medicine, but God healed my fear, worry, panic, and constant what-if thinking. Thank God for praying mommas like mine. I knew it was irrational and I was worried about something that hadn’t happened, but goodness the pain of fear is so very real. From an early age, I was faced with the obstacle of learning how to combat this eerie feeling with the still peace of God through prayer, worship, and His Word.
In all my worries throughout life, I’ve come to the conclusion that worry (grouped together with doubt, deception, and fear) is the belief that something negative or disappointing will come as a result of my current circumstance. Yes, it’s possible that bad things do happen, but we cannot remain paralyzed. It’s a mindset of negative FUTURE effects based on how I FEEL about something now. Worry does two things: It replaces God’s control with MY control, and it counter-acts God’s Word. It’s imagining our future with a hopeless mindset and uncertainty of God’s guidance and sovereignty.
Here’s something we need to understand…from the beginning of time, Satan used the weapon of doubt/deception against Eve to make her question God’s command in the garden.
In Genesis 3:1 the serpent asks, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
Eve distorts God’s original command saying to the serpent, “You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.” (God’s command in Genesis 2:17 says, “If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”) Verse 6 goes on to say that Eve had been convinced by the serpent; she had fallen into the trap of doubt. And just like that, our doubt/fear causes us to act on our own behalf and control our own future, but it leads to death and separation from God’s love, grace, and most importantly, His perfect plan.
When we’re caught in this whirlwind of fear and worry, it will either paralyze us dead in our tracks, or move us to act without the wisdom of God. However, both have one thing in common: where there is fear, the presence of God does not exist.
We can get rid of worry through FAITH. Fear is a lie from the enemy, but faith is truth and brings the peace, confidence, and all-knowing hope that God loves you, desires good for you, cares about everything you are going through, and that he is FOR you. When we stand on promises of God’s Word, we can boldly act in faith and resist the enemy’s attempts to steal our joy. Here are some important steps in taking this leap of faith:
Become content in not knowing every detail. This is so very hard to do, but it’s a crucial step. We are not going to know every detail to our futures and we have to get used to that. Isn’t it funny that we find ourselves trusting in God more easily when we know some of the details? Really trusting in God is learned when we can surrender our control, and not just when some evidence is there for us. Faith does not possess sight.
Hold onto hope for dear life. Our hope in Christ is not wishful thinking; it’s an all-knowing assurance that God will come through because He is absolutely wonderful at keeping His promises! Reading promises that scriptures offer us (Jeremiah 29:11, Proverbs 3:5, Romans 8:28) and not only agreeing with them, but declaring them with confidence over our lives, knowing God will work on our behalf allows us to loosen our control
Put away all the what-ifs. When our focus is on the what-ifs, it’s not on God’s promises that he will bring good when the enemy meant to harm us. Christ defeated death, so don’t you know that he is perfectly able to come through and take care of ANY situation no matter the outcome? He calmed raging storms, helped Peter walk on water, created the planet, and told us we could move mountains with our faith. We need to CHOOSE to believe that he is never going to leave us but we can’t use our present circumstances as a gauge.
Remember that God is STILL good. Life brings some not-so-pretty circumstances. But God never leaves us. There are deaths, break-ups, losses, failed moments, and bad days, but they allow us to experience God’s grace, love, peace, and goodness all the more! He loves you, and thank goodness our feelings of hopelessness do not determine His sovereignty. He is God no matter how we feel, and he’s big enough to take us through our joy, grief, and everything in between.
Be thankful. Philippians 4:6 tells us to present our requests to God with prayer and thanksgiving. Be thankful and look at what God is doing in your life, and already has done. Thankfulness makes us aware of the hand of God actively working on our behalf, allowing us to really see God will never leave us. He fights for us and intercedes for us, and we can enjoy the waiting by being thankful for his presence in the middle of our circumstances. Most importantly, thankfulness will invite his presence and illuminate his love and cancel out the fear.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. –Jeremiah 29:11