Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
I never experienced fear or anxiety. In fact I just couldn’t understand it until crippling fear crept into my heart. I couldn’t sleep because of anxiety. What if I wouldn’t wake up. Irrational fear consumed my thoughts even though I know only 5% of the things you are afraid of will happen no matter what you do. At least 80% of our fears are unfounded. That doesn’t help when you are exhausted and having a panic attack. So I read my bible and turned to Jesus and eventually out of exhaustion fell asleep. However the fears didn’t go away.
Instead the fears became accompanied with doubts. Doubts about things I know, and then more irrational fear. I’d be fine and then one night I would feel it coming the crippling mind numbing all-consuming panic. I finally understood anxiety and phobias. I get why people find themselves in the places they do out of fear. In that moment I knew I had to concur my fear. Which honestly if you have ever experienced it is no easy task.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
The first thing I did was start to identify what I was afraid of. This was hard because I had to take the deep dark middle of the night terrors and expose them to the light of day. Would the anxiety creep into daylight. Would I be ruined by it. More worries and more fears. I also had to identify what had changed in me. It was a simple prayer, but I will never forget it. I prayed for God to make me aware of, saddened, aggrieved by the things that break his heart. I would find myself reading the news and my sorrow would be overwhelming. I had asked for this, but now what would I do with it. I’m sure I only feel a portion of the pain and sorrow, but with the sadness comes fear. It unwraps itself in my sorrow and then it takes root. What if that happens to you? What if……….What if……………..What if……………. The fear that packs a punch and grabs me by the throat comes from grief. The grief of a child lost,, a mother lost, Christians imprisoned, people dying, hate that consumes, and on and on.
Psalm 56:3 Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.
I read an article that said if we could understand what breaks God’s heart we could change the world. It’s one of those careful what you ask for things. Understanding changes us, and I think it bursts that happy bubble we live in. However, being truly happy is all about being thankful. Truly happy people don’t have everything, but they are grateful and content in what they have. In my fear I find myself pausing. Breathing in a moment in case it is the last. Feeling little fingers in my hand and realizing this will pass. She won’t always crawl in my lap and hold my hand. This will pass the rush of childhood. I need to slow it down. I need to breathe in the joy and feel all that is there. The moment when you ride that bike for the first time. That book you fell in love with. The footprint painting, the hand print tile, the crafts from church, and all the little pieces of childhood. Mommy will you take a moment and…………..STOP. That’s it just stand still and take in that moment. Look at them at the dinner table, or coloring, or playing. Stop the busy life and just watch that moment. Commit it to memory and truly enjoy it. Praise God for the joy in that moment.
Philippians 4: 6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Of course not every moment is good and pure. Recently my daughter stuck her finger in the pencil sharpener. What followed was tears and blood. A rushed visit to the doctor and a 25.00 copay for a band-aid were not moments of peace or joy. However as I sat unable to stop the bleeding holding her in my lap I knew she was not dying. This too was a moment of thankfulness. Thank you that there were no stitches. Thank you that I overreacted. The blessings in the bad as well as the good. What if we counted all the thank you’s in a day. What if we stopped and wrote down every moment and used our breath to praise God in it. Would it change the fear? It lingers on the edges just out of reach, but with each passing moment I am less aware. However the truly poignant moments the ones that take my breath away have those fearful thoughts there. What if this is the last batch of homemade cookies we ever share? I want to enjoy these cookies even more because of that fear. I want to enjoy life more because I am here in this moment. If life is just a blur of busy moments wasted until it is over; that is so much worse than anything I fear.
It’s the technicolor, larger than life moments that make up a lifetime………………………
Desert Song Chorus
“I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here”