A woman went to doctors the office. She was seen by one of the new doctors, but after about 4 minutes in the examination room, she burst out, screaming as she ran down the hall. An older doctor stopped and asked her what the problem was, and she explained. He had her sit down and relax in another room. The older doctor marched back to the first and demanded, “What’s the matter with you? Mrs. Terry is 63 years old, she has four grown children and seven grandchildren, and you told her she was pregnant?” The new doctor smiled smugly as he continued to write on his clipboard. “Cured her hiccups though, didn’t it?”
How often we live in fear.
We wake up in the morning and we might think of how difficult the coming day will be. Some people are afraid they’re going to be late for work, so they speed, which puts the fear of the police in their heart, and raises their adrenaline. They get to work and are afraid they won’t be able to get all their work done, and so they’re afraid they’ll get fired, which makes them afraid of their future and what will they do without a job and no money….
So much fear. This is why Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
We need to be willing to get away from our fears every day. Break the binds fear has on your mind. Undo the chains of fear that have your heart trapped. Open up a way to see clearly God’s love for you.
So often we don’t even know how deeply we live in fear. It’s become our normal state of being. It’s our condition, and we’ve come to accept it.
But it’s unacceptable. It may be tough to overcome the fear you’ve lived in but it’s not impossible. We simply can’t be blessed and find our peace and live with the hope that frees us if we’re willing to be trapped by our fear.
God wants to deliver you from being afraid so often. Scripture says, “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’”
Take the Lord up on his offer. Turn to God in your heart. Lift up what the Lord is going to do for you instead of what bad you believe is going to befall you.
The truth is everything we don’t have yet, everything we aren’t yet, everything we want and should become is on the other side of our fear. This is what our scripture reading tells us.
Psalm 27 begins with the twin ideas that we’re afraid of the dark and of being without hope. If you have light and salvation, then you’re no longer in the dark nor hopeless. The Lord is your light and your salvation—don’t be afraid.
The Lord is our stronghold. Our God is our refuge. When storms come, turn to God. Find your peace by finding a time to be connected to the one who overcomes all things. Be consoled with a closeness to God that nobody and no event can break. Let go of your fears by holding to your faith in the love of Jesus Christ for you.
Of course we don’t really believe we are fearful people. We are just as we’re supposed to be. In fact, just ask us: We’re brave.
But brave people like us have to face things and find the right words and the right actions. Sometimes saying No, is simply the bravest thing we can say.
Especially when we’re younger, the temptation is always to go along with someone else and what they’re doing. But being afraid to say No means losing the ability to say Yes to something better.
We can’t always see the better option than the one being offered to us but we have to believe there is. Keep the faith that something good is coming. Say No to the lesser and say yes to God’s better.
We have choices. If you act on fear instead of acting on faith, it will keep you depressed and miserable. We feed ourselves fear by what we watch and read and believe about the world.
Now of course there are things to fear. But so many are surrounded less by those fears than inundated by their self-created fears. Fear blows things out of proportion. Fear makes problems much bigger than they really are. Maybe what you’re fearing is never even going to happen. Maybe that obstacle that looks permanent is really only temporary.
Just because we have had difficulty doesn’t mean we should tell ourselves it’s impossible. Fear say, “You’ll never get ahead. You’ll never get well. You’ll never get married. You’ll never feel safe.” That’s fear talking.
But God is saying, “Don’t be afraid. Stay in faith and I will deliver you. I will protect you. I will heal you. I will watch over you.”
Fill your hearts and minds with God’s word. Catch yourself when you start listening to the old thinking. Dispel that gloom and start again with hope.
Our scripture reading asks us what we are afraid of. Well if you’re like every other human you have ten strong human fears. 10. Losing your freedom 9. The unknown 8. Pain 7. Disappointment 6. Misery 5. Loneliness 4. Ridicule 3. Rejection 2. Death 1. Failure
This must be why scripture says hundreds of times in hundreds of ways “Fear not.”
It’s not easy to conquer our fears, mostly because it plays a trick on us. After a while of being afraid, we no longer feel it. We just feel the consequences: anxiety.
Being afraid of something particular, such as not having enough money or never finding the love of your life, devolves into something much less concrete: Anxiety. This is the overall negative sense that things, life, is off, turned against us, can’t be controlled, and dangerous. Sure, some things seem fine, but most of life is aligned against oneself.
And now the particular culprit of which we used to be afraid can no longer be found; it has been swallowed up in a generic force. We’ve turned something manageable into something unmanageable. Now we’re surrounded and even suffocating on a nervousness and an anxiousness that comes from nowhere and continues unabated.
Recognize the amount of anxiety in your mind and heart. Listen to your body. It will tell you all about it if you will pay attention. Don’t think it’s natural or alright to be under such stress. The Lord can’t help those who continue to live in the same way that has brought them to their present fearful and anxious condition.
We need to be like it says in scripture, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
I believe we all have anxiety—some more and some less. Everyone has had fears in their lives. I was afraid of spiders, small ones for years, actually until recently. But when you’re a man and you have kids, at some point you’ve got to be less afraid of a daddy long leg and other little house spiders than your little children. For me, that was about two years ago…!
The real problem with fear that devolves into anxiety is that it robs us of the ability to feel other things. Sadness is difficult to find, loss of desire and happiness that is deeper seated is tough to uncover. Love has a way of
being pushed to the side, atrophied, and even distorted under the glacial weight of anxiety.
What this means is that anxiety leads people to use anger or depression as their go-to emotion in most situations, and depression is just anger turned inward.
But anger is the answer that is no answer, the solution that can do nothing but create more problems, as we see time and again in ourselves, our communities, nation, and world.
The consequences of fears are long-lasting. It’s time to let go of what you’re afraid of.
Some of the best men and women of the Bible struggled with their inner fears when their dreams didn’t come true, when the challenges seemed too much. Peter was one such person.
As we know, Peter was one of Jesus’ most important disciples and closest friends. When Jesus asked, “Who am I?” Peter responded, “You are the Messiah!”
Even the night Jesus was arrested, Peter followed behind to see what would happen. He just couldn’t believe this was happening. He had to see for himself.
While Jesus was in the high priest’s house being questioned, Peter hung around in the courtyard near a fire. Other people were also there. A servant girl noticed Peter and said, “Don’t you know Jesus?” At that moment, everything turned on him.
Peter grew really afraid. He wasn’t ready to be recognized. Jesus was already in incredible danger and now here he was so close to stepping into the same situation. Peter said, “Nope, I never met the man before.”
For his part, Peter didn’t run away, but he couldn’t face getting caught either. That night, two more people asked Peter if he knew Jesus. Two more times, Peter denied knowing Jesus.
Following Christ where you don’t know how it will go can be a scary thing. We can never do it with a faith that is seated in our heads alone. Our willingness to follow Christ has to be something that comes from our heart.
Find a way to take fear out of your heart and put in faith in Christ instead. Resurrect your faith in the one who suffered, died and rose for you.
But that’s not the end of Peter’s story. After Christ’s resurrection, Peter became a changed man. His fear was gone. He wouldn’t stop anymore, no matter what. Christ had risen in Peter’s heart.
His fear conquered, and his affection for Christ complete, he eventually was arrested, and faced his own death. He along with Paul, both martyrs, became the twin cornerstones of the Christian Church.
Reduce fear by turning to faith. Banish anxiety by enlarging your hope. Put away anger by lifting up the Prince of Peace, so Christ’s love can be poured into your hearts, refresh your spirit, and feed your soul.
Can the church say Amen?