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Photo of steep, rocky mountain with person standing on edge of it. foreground has II Samuel 22:2 written on it.

photo: leio-mclaren-leiomclaren-299136-unsplash.jpg

One group I write to on my blog is those who are scared. That is a broad group of people. You may be scared you won’t be able to pay your bills this month; scared that your spouse won’t recover from the cancer that was just discovered; scared that someone might break into your home; or scared that those early signs of dementia you see in your spouse will develop into something you won’t be able to manage…and then what will you do?!

Those cover a variety of  types of fear for sure! Some may be life-threatening to you or someone you love. Others may not be a seriously relevant problem for you except as they cross your mind on occasion. While still others are more of a chronic nature and threaten your mental well-being as you ask yourself the question: What is going to become of us?

I purposely used the word scared instead of fearful. Fearful seems more stately and dignified. Scared carries with it (for me) that feeling of panic…bordering on freaking out. It also reminds me of times as a child when I sat in the dark, fearful of all kinds of things as I thought about the future.

We know plenty of Bible verses about fear or not fearing. We know we aren’t supposed to. But that doesn’t really help us when we are scared to death in the middle of the night…well, it does sometimes, but often it doesn’t. We are too anxious to think logically.

So how do we help scared? I’ll give some suggestions. Some will help you more than others and at different times. If you haven’t tried some of them, do it.

Think about/Meditate on who GOD is

Metaphors help me a lot. He is a my rock. No not a little rock on the ground, but like those big ones that are huge and don’t move…ever! Take a look at the one in the photo! That’s a great example. Think about what it is about a Rock that reminds you of GOD?

  • He is strong.
  • He doesn’t move when hard times come.
  • Reminds me of a kind of power that is able to withstand storms.
  • He is a shelter, like the kind of rock that is formed into a cave.
  • He is massive! He is way bigger than any problem that comes along.
  • What others did you think of? Add them to the comments.

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation,
my stronghold and my refuge,
my savior; you save me from violence.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.

“For the waves of death encompassed me,
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.

“In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I called.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry came to his ears.

II Samuel 22:2-7

Honest prayer…like that of a child

When we are scared, our prayers are often not perfect or pretty. In fact, they are downright messy! It is like the panicked child who is crying out to her Father. “Help, I’m scared to death!” Often she is screaming words that are unintelligible! He knows and understands…better than earthly parents. The following is after the panic when the Psalmist was able to put the words down more carefully for public worship.

He is the One we can talk to. He knows the intimate screams of our heart as we lie awake at night. When we can’t tell another living person. He knows. He cares.

To you, O Lord, I call;
my rock, be not deaf to me,
lest, if you be silent to me, 
I become like those who go down to the pit.
Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy,
when I cry to you for help,
when I lift up my hands
toward your most holy sanctuary.

Blessed be the Lord!
For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.

The Lord is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Psalm 28:1-2, 6-9

Remember His commands

He has commanded us not to be anxious or afraid. Evidently, there is an aspect of this emotion, that has volition involved. We can choose to stay in it. To wallow in it and continue there or to choose to not be afraid with certain boundaries. What are they?

Certainly, choosing faith is involved. Choosing to trust that GOD will care for us. Choosing to believe that He loves us and cares for what is in our best interest…not necessarily what will make us happy in any given moment. He is the One who is worthy of our trust. We believe it intellectually. It is sometimes harder to believe it in our hearts at the feeling level…but we are called to integrate our head and heart beliefs.

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life,
what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.

For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn,
and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,
yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today,
and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you,
O you of little faith!

And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.

For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.
Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

Luke 12:22-31

Instructing our minds and hearts

This overlaps with some of the other steps, but certainly includes memorizing Scripture as it applies to our anxiety/fear and scaredness as well as how our faith applies to this part of our life. We need to constantly be instructing our minds in the truth.. How do we allow our anxiety and fear to take over our hearts? How do we forget to trust GOD when hard things happen… especially when they become chronic?

Part of instructing our minds and hearts involves allowing Christian brothers and sisters to instruct us. At this point, I will mention that this has not always happened in my preferred ways over the years. My preferred way has been that some sweet person would tell me what I needed to hear in a sweet kind way, hugging me and  encouraging me along the way. I can tell you now, that this has not always been the method GOD has used. In fact, it has rarely happened that way. I don’t think He is happy about that. But we miss out on many teaching opportunities when we don’t learn from our tactless brothers and sisters.

Many of us have this romantic idea about mentors and how GOD is going to use them in our lives. While I love the concept, I have often been taught by people who were blunter than I would have preferred. They were not as kind as I wanted. In fact, they were often quite unkind.

I don’t want others to learn from me this way for sure, but I would encourage you that if you are only going to learn from those who treat you kindly, you will miss a lot that GOD has to teach you! It isn’t always painless. But GOD will teach you along the way what you need to learn if you are willing to learn it.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,
provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Romans 8:14-17

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God,
which is in you through the laying on of my hands,

for God gave us a spirit not of fear
but of power and love and self-control.

II Timothy 1:6-7

And just to tie up loose ends!

This Scripture finishes off the picture well doesn’t it? “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” Wow! These other verses provide the context. Our anxiety, fear, scaredness doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are other things that come too…including love. The larger passage shows us what we are to to put to death in verses 5-11.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another,
forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
to which indeed you were called in one body.
And be thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom,
singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:12-17